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Keeping Down the Black Vote: Race and the Demobilization of American Voters

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A controversial examination of how our political system, despite "get out the vote" rhetoric, works to suppress the vote—especially the votes of African Americans.

"Karl Rove began to impress upon leading Republicans...that...one way to address the party's electoral problem...was to suppress black and Hispanic turnout—a task that would become far easier if the airwaves were ...
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Overview

A controversial examination of how our political system, despite "get out the vote" rhetoric, works to suppress the vote—especially the votes of African Americans.

"Karl Rove began to impress upon leading Republicans...that...one way to address the party's electoral problem...was to suppress black and Hispanic turnout—a task that would become far easier if the airwaves were buzzing with news of voter-fraud indictments."—Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post

Today, over forty years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 demolished bars to voting for African Americans, the effort to prevent black people—as well as Latinos and the poor in general—from voting is experiencing a resurgence. A myriad of new tactics, some of which adopt the mantle of "election reform," has evolved to suppress the vote. In this sharply argued new book, three of America's leading experts on party politics and elections demonstrate that our political system is as focused on stopping people from voting as on getting Americans to go to the polls.

In recent years, the Republican Party, the Bush administration, and the conservative movement have devoted a remarkable amount of effort to controlling election machinery (the scandal over federal prosecutors was in part over their refusal to gin up election-fraud cases). But Keeping Down the Black Vote shows that the effort to rig the system is as old as American political parties themselves, and race is at the heart of the game.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

From three distinguished academic authorities on vote suppression comes this comprehensive historical assessment of the corruption of American electoral procedures. From the founding of the two political parties to the 2008 election campaign, the authors describe how both parties have manipulated crucial African-American, immigrant and minority voters. As late at 1956, African-Americans wishing to register to vote were made to take literacy tests with questions like "What is due process of law?" and "How many bubbles are there in a bar of soap?" The authors argue that much of what is termed "election reform," "ballot security" and "electoral process integrity" serves much the same purpose as the old legal obstacles to universal suffrage. The authors' analysis of Reagan's second successful presidential campaign uncovers how both parties pay lip service to voter registration, while not wanting to identify too strongly with disenfranchised groups. The National Voter Registration Act, signed into law by Clinton in 1993, is also meticulously evaluated, highlighting the problems inherent in implementing federal regulations on state and local levels. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595583543
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 2/10/2009
  • Pages: 281
  • Product dimensions: 6.76 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Frances Fox Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the author (with the late Richard A. Cloward) of The Breaking of the American Social Compact (The New Press), among many other books. Margaret Groarke is an assistant professor in the government department and the director of the peace studies program at Manhattan College. Lorraine C. Minnite is an assistant professor of political science at Barnard College. All three live in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Adam Cohen Cohen, Adam

Introduction 1

1 The Party Logic of Voter Demobilization 9

2 Race and Party Competition in Post-World War II America 34

3 Black Voting Power in the Cities 48

4 Party Resistance to National Voter Registration Reform 98

5 Beyond Race? The Parties Search for a "Third Way" 127

6 Keeping Down the Vote: The Contemporary Revival of Vote Suppression Tactics 164

Epilogue 205

Notes 211

Index 259

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