cover image One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy

Carol Anderson. Bloomsbury, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-63557-137-0

In this insightful study, Anderson (White Rage), Charles Howard Candler Professor of African-American studies at Emory University, scrupulously details the history of racially and politically motivated disenfranchisement in the United States. She focuses on four tactics that are currently harming the principle of “one person, one vote” enshrined by the Supreme Court in Baker v. Carr: voter identification laws, voter roll purges, gerrymandering, and “starving minority precincts of resources to create untenable conditions at the polls.” Keenly aware of both legal and social barriers to voting (such as lack of access to transportation, the internet, or wheelchair ramps), Anderson lays out in clear terms—often aided by damning, surprisingly blunt quotations from the perpetrators—how systems for disenfranchisement have been conceived, implemented, and defended. She illustrates their effects using relevant numbers and other statistics: for example, black Alabama households are three times more likely than white ones not to have access to a car, in a state where public transit is virtually nonexistent. She also takes a deep look at the multipronged, successful effort to restore black voters’ access to the polls to defeat Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in 2017, suggesting this as a model for future change. Anderson brings home that the current state of voting rights in parts of the U.S. is reminiscent of the height of Jim Crow. Anyone interested in American democracy or how equality can be not only legislated but realized will find this account illuminating and clarifying. (Sept.)