cover image Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression

Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression

Spencer Overton, . . Norton, $24.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-393-06159-8

Overton takes a wonky but worthy look at the "matrix" of "thousands of election regulations and practices" that can discourage—if not completely suppress—citizens from voting or make their votes count less. A law professor and election reform activist, Overton makes concrete proposals for restoring power to voters. Redistricting, he says, is often conducted in a partisan manner; Overton recommends that the United States assign the responsibility to an independent commission. He calls for federal standards for counting ballots and the provision of voting machines. The much-debated Voting Rights Act, Overton argues, remains vital, though those invoking it should more carefully analyze "practices that disadvantage voters of color." In answer to those bilingual education opponents who might withhold "democracy from Americans with limited English skills," he also argues that bilingual ballots would "advance citizen engagement." Overton warns that a photo ID requirement for voting would exclude those (e.g., the poor, many people of color) who don't have driver's licenses. Citing relatively low voter turnout and lack of centralized election oversight, the author notes how the United States "deviates from democratic norms" of other established democracies, concluding with profiles of activists to inspire the citizens' movement needed to enact the sensible reforms he advocates. (June)