Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotton History of Democracy in America

Overview


The 2000 presidential election meltdown and the more recent controversy about computer voting machines did not come out of the blue. Steal This Vote tells the fraught but very colorful history of electoral malfeasance in the United States. It is a tale of votes bought, stolen, suppressed, lost, cast more than once, assigned to dead people and pets, miscounted, thrown into rivers, and litigated all the way to the Supreme Court. (No wonder America has the lowest voter participation rate of any Western democracy!) ...
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Overview


The 2000 presidential election meltdown and the more recent controversy about computer voting machines did not come out of the blue. Steal This Vote tells the fraught but very colorful history of electoral malfeasance in the United States. It is a tale of votes bought, stolen, suppressed, lost, cast more than once, assigned to dead people and pets, miscounted, thrown into rivers, and litigated all the way to the Supreme Court. (No wonder America has the lowest voter participation rate of any Western democracy!) Andrew Gumbel—whose work on the new electronic voting fraud has been praised by Gore Vidal and Paul Krugman, and has won a Project Censored Award—shows that, for all the idealism about American democracy, free and fair elections have been the exception, not the rule. In fact, Gumbel suggests that Tammany Hall, shrouded as it is in moral odium, might have been a fairer system than we have today, because ostensibly positive developments like the secret ballot have been used to squash voting rights ever since.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a riveting and frightening account, Gumbel, U.S. correspondent for Britain's Independent, traces election fraud in America from the 18th century to the present, spotlighting the Hayes-Tilden election of 1876, vote buying in the Gilded Age and the history of black disenfranchisement in the post-Reconstruction South. The last 100 pages are devoted to the elections of 2000 and 2004. Gumbel rehearses the Florida mess and argues that those who care about voting rights should be terrified by Justice Scalia's argument in Bush v. Gore that the Constitution doesn't per se guarantee a right of suffrage. Gumbel shows that the confusion (at best) and cheating (at worst) that went on in Florida are not unusual, describing numerous county and state elections plagued with problems: registered voters purged from the rolls; queues at polling places so long that would-be voters gave up; and confusing ballots. Who are the villains? Not just the Republicans; he shows Democrats equally willing to play dirty. This book is sure to be controversial, and if it garners media attention, that's all for the good, for the issues Gumbel so winningly addresses are crucial to the future of democracy. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
After the disputed U.S. presidential election of 2000, most politicians seemed to have little desire to challenge the results of the 2004 election. The suspicion that there had been voter fraud in 2004 (with the new, questionable touch-screen technology) is just one of the topics in this study of over 200 years of American elections. Gumbel, U.S. correspondent of Britain's Independent, proclaims that the United States "has been both a living experiment in the expansion of democratic rights and also a world-class laboratory for vote suppression and election-stealing techniques." Though he covers familiar ground, his survey is eye-opening, indicting both Republicans and Democrats as he moves from the presidential elections of 1800 and 1824 (both decided by the House of Representatives) to the Bush-Gore battle in Florida. Gumbel's focus is not simply on presidential elections; throughout, he provides a wealth of examples from state and local elections. He sees a true "crisis of political representation" and offers a set of sensible remedies, including abolition of the Electoral College. An important book, rich in anecdotal detail and filled with impassioned anger; highly recommended.-Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560256762
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Table of Contents

1 How to steal an election 1
2 The antidemocratic tradition and the new right 27
Pt. 1 Voting in the age before mechanization
3 Slavery and the system 55
4 Patronage, liquor, and graft : the ascent of machine politics 73
5 The theft of the century 91
6 The 1896 watershed and the paradox of reform 107
7 The long agony of the disenfranchised South 127
8 Chicago : the other kind of mob rule 149
Pt. 2 Voting in the machine age
9 Levers, punch cards, and the fallacy of the technological fix 173
10 Democracy's frangible connections : Florida 2000 201
11 The miracle solution 225
12 Backlash 251
13 Round on the ends and high in the middle : election 2004 275
14 Democracy here and there 299
15 The democratic future 315
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