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

Frances Fox Piven, Author, Lorraine C. Minnite, Author, Margaret Groarke, Author . New Press $26.95 (282p) ISBN 978-1-59558-354-3

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.)

Reviewed on: 12/01/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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