Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters [NOOK Book]


Imagine a country where the right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution, where the candidate with the most votes loses, and where paperwork requirements and bureaucratic bungling disenfranchise millions. You’re living in it. If the consequences weren’t so serious, it would be funny.

An eye-opening, fact-filled companion to the forthcoming PBS documentary starring political satirist and commentator Mo Rocca, Electoral Dysfunction ...
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Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters

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Imagine a country where the right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution, where the candidate with the most votes loses, and where paperwork requirements and bureaucratic bungling disenfranchise millions. You’re living in it. If the consequences weren’t so serious, it would be funny.

An eye-opening, fact-filled companion to the forthcoming PBS documentary starring political satirist and commentator Mo Rocca, Electoral Dysfunction illuminates a broad array of issues, including the Founding Fathers’ decision to omit the right to vote from the Constitution—and the legal system’s patchwork response to this omission; the battle over voter ID, voter impersonation, and voter fraud; the foul-ups that plague Election Day, from ballot design to contested recounts; the role of partisan officials in running elections; and the anti-democratic origins and impact of the Electoral College. The book concludes with a prescription for a healthy voting system by Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote.

Published in the run-up to the 2012 election, Electoral Dysfunction is for readers across the political spectrum who want their votes to count.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Since 1789, the franchise in America, once limited to white propertied men, has steadily expanded. Still, as noted in this companion volume to the PBS documentary, the U.S. has the “lowest voter turnout of the world’s established democracies.” Bassetti, former chief counsel of a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee, looks at the expansion of the franchise and why voters bother to cast their ballots (and often don’t) in the first place, before exploring the many shortcomings of our system, such as the poorly designed ballots in 2000 that cost 1.5 million votes (and quite possibly Al Gore the presidency). Basseti sometimes strains too hard to be nonpartisan. For example, she writes: “Both political parties... manipulate the system for maximum partisan advantage.” (The truth comes out only a few pages later: “Registration rolls are purged more aggressively by Republicans than Democrats, with profound impact on people’s ability to vote”). The book also could have used a set of recommendations to make the system more functional. Still, this is a well-written, enlightening look at how, when it comes to access to the ballot box and other voter rights, the world’s second oldest democracy still has a long way to go. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Crisply written, irreverent yet engaged. . . . A lively, witty survey of the numerous ailments that afflict the American electoral system." —Alexander Keyssar
Kirkus Reviews
A delightfully provocative history and review of voting in America. Conceived as a companion to the PBS series of the same name, this handbook about elections and voting will undoubtedly appeal to both first-time voters and those who participate regularly. Bassetti, a political professional who has worked with various judicial and legislative bodies, provides a history of the struggle to secure and broaden the franchise and an analysis of who votes and why. She outlines the working of the Electoral College, the multilevel patchwork of election administration and the role of political parties. Federal election law, she explains, is at the top of a pyramid encompassing more than 13,000 electoral districts, each of which can be subject to different legal and procedural regimes. The author's initial provocation is that the right to vote was not originally enshrined in the Constitution. Excluded as one of the compromises that ensured adoption, the right to vote entered via the amendment process. Elections, she writes, have been driven since the beginning of the republic by disputes between those who want to broaden enfranchisement and increase turnout, and those who want to suppress the vote. She argues that it is through such political conflicts, as well as the emergence of much broader movements for emancipation, women's suffrage and civil rights, that progress has been made. Bassetti also historically and comparatively discusses election turnouts and the demographic characteristics of those who vote. Vote buying and fraud are presented in a historical context, which emphasizes that restrictive administrative and legal measures have a far greater effect on the vote than individual criminality at the polls. Four appendices provide documentation and access to additional resources. A well-organized, important tool that will remain useful beyond the present electoral cycle.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595588210
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Victoria Bassetti has worked with legislative and judicial bodies of the U.S. government, including serving as chief counsel/staff director to a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. She has been active in numerous political campaigns and participates regularly in Election Day voter-protection efforts. Electoral Dysfunction is directed by Bennett Singer, Leslie D. Farrell, and David Deschamps, whose credits include multiple Emmy, Peabody, and duPont-Columbia awards.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Mo Rocca ix

Introduction xv

Chapter 1 In Search of the Right to Vote

Do Americans Really Have the Right to Vote? 1

Chapter 2 The Epic Battle for the Vote

Who Gets to Vote in America and the Quest for Universal Suffrage 17

Chapter 3 To Vote or Not to Vote

Who Votes and Why 49

Chapter 4 The Mystic Agency of the Electoral College

The Bewildering Way America Elects Its Presidents 75

Chapter 5 A Ramshackle House

The Convoluted and Misunderstood Election System 101

Chapter 6 The Games We Play

The Partisan Fight over Voting 143

Afterword Heather Smith 183

Appendix A Constitutional Provisions Relating to Voting 193

Appendix B Timeline of Major Events in American Voting 199

Appendix C Illustrations 205

Appendix D Additional Resources 221

Acknowledgments 225

Select Bibliography 227

Index 249

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I read some of it and came to conclusion that when someone says

    I read some of it and came to conclusion that when someone says bipartisan or nonpartisan, they mean to the left. Victoria writes well, but if you pay attention to a more detailed explanation on the voter id, she takes sides and phrases an opinion it would be discouraging the voters more aka voter suppression, basically saying proving that you are eligible to vote is discouraging to the voters according to her. She says that having to use Voter ID, which by the way is a regular ID that you need in many aspects of most people's lives, is a voter suppression. She claims that Republicans want voter ID and Democrats call it voter suppression and fight it, but yet she takes the side of discouraged voters when it comes to proving you are eligible and not fraudulent. She also takes it upon herself to explain some articles of our constitution, which she does well, but yet presenting the side of voting being phrased to suppress those who were slaves in some states, rather than the fact the the voting was phrased indirectly for south to not get the votes needed and therefore try to abolish the slavery from the north. If she was in fact bipartisan or nonpartisan, she would have known to properly explain those several items that I mentioned here. This book fails to be bipartisan, but yet claims to be. Hypocritical is more like it, but well written as far as pretending to be bipartisan or nonpartisan. If you are looking for explanation on the voting process, she does relatively good job, but if you think that this is an open minded opinion without taking sides, you would be mistaken and therefore somewhat swayed to one sided direction of the political spectrum.

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