** Give Us The Ballot by Ari Berman


Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America tells the story of the Voting Rights Act, from the scandalous treatment of African-American voters in the years before it was signed, in 1965, to its difficult implementation, to today’s covert assaults against it in the form of district reshapings and voter ID laws.

The detailed legislative battles left me somewhat bored, but the author does a great job of explaining how seemingly neutral changes, such as shortening the period of pre-voting or simply short-staffing the polling places where voters from a certain profile are more likely to vote can severely influence the outcomes of elections. The author does concede that the Voting Right Act, because it focuses on only a few states, is itself biased (and indeed always was) but I wish he would more strongly assert that it needs replacing by a nationwide approach that does not discriminate on certain states.

 

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