“Lichtman’s important book…uses history to contextualize the fix we’re in today. Each party gropes for advantage by fiddling with the franchise… Growing outrage, he thinks, could ignite demands for change. With luck, this fine history might just help to fan the flame.”New York Times Book Review
Americans have fought and died for the right to vote. Yet the world’s oldest continuously operating democracy guarantees no one, not even its citizens, the right to elect its leaders.
For most of U.S. history, suffrage has been a privilege restricted by wealth, sex, race, residence, literacy, criminal conviction, and citizenship. Economic qualifications were finally eliminated in the nineteenth century, but the ideal of a white man’s republic persisted long after that. Today, voter identification laws, registration requirements, felon disenfranchisement, and voter purges deny many millions of American citizens the opportunity to express their views at the ballot box.
An award-winning historian who has testified in more than ninety voting rights cases, Allan Lichtman gives us the deep history behind today’s headlines and shows that calls of voter fraud, political gerrymandering and outrageous attempts at voter suppression are nothing new. The players and the tactics have changedwe don’t outright ban people from voting anymorebut the battle and the stakes remain just as high.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: Voters and Nonvoters 1
1 The Founding Fathers' Mistake 8
2 A White Man's Republic 36
3 Constructing and Deconstructing the Vote 70
4 Votes for Women 99
5 The Absent Voter 128
6 The Voting Rights Act of 1965 147
7 The New Wars over the Vote 180
8 Reforming American Voting 231
Conclusion: The Embattled Vote 252