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The Voting Wars: From Florida to the Next Election Meltdown by Richard L. Hasen

Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. In , just a few hundred votes out of millions cast in the state of Florida separated Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush from his Democratic opponent, Al Gore. The outcome of the election rested on Florida's 25 electoral votes, and legal wrangling continued for 36 days.

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Then, abruptly, one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions in U. Gore , cut short the battle. Since the Florida debacle we have witnessed a partisan war over election rules. Election litigation has skyrocketed, and election time brings out inevitable accusations by political partisans of voter fraud and voter suppression.

Hasen, a respected authority on election law, chronicles and analyzes the battles over election rules from to the present. From a nonpartisan standpoint he explores the rising number of election-related lawsuits and charges of voter fraud as well as the decline of public confidence in fair results. He explains why future election disputes will be worse than previous ones—more acrimonious, more distorted by unsubstantiated allegations, and amplified by social media. No reader will fail to conclude with Hasen that election reform is an urgent priority, one that demands the attention of conscientious citizens and their elected representatives.


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Hardcover , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Voting Wars , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Nov 29, Daniel rated it really liked it. For a political science book, this one doesn't advocate one specific political agenda except for a better a better voting system overall and is easy for people who aren't interested in politics to get into.

Someone picking up the book and reads only a few pages will gain the impression that the author, Richard Hasen, may be siding with one political party over another, when in fact, he holds both parties accountable for the state of the American voting system. To convey the status of voting in t For a political science book, this one doesn't advocate one specific political agenda except for a better a better voting system overall and is easy for people who aren't interested in politics to get into. To convey the status of voting in the United States and how it became what it is, Hasan uses short stories and analysis to show why a given method, idea, or technology is less than ideal.

The argument the author is trying to make is this, what we've seen so far in elections, with litigation and accusations of tampering, isn't caused by voter fraud or suppression, but gross incompetence and partisanship. This was a good book to read, easy to understand and not very preachy for a political science novel. Dec 27, Ryan Sloan rated it it was amazing Shelves: This was a very readable, well-researched, and detailed account of the conflicts we are experiencing in the law and process of administering elections.

Hasen frames his treatment around two big ideas: He makes heavy use of "war stories" to provide examples, and this makes it a breeze to read. First, the politicization of the electoral process: Hasen explains This was a very readable, well-researched, and detailed account of the conflicts we are experiencing in the law and process of administering elections. Hasen explains that the politicization of election administration got much worse beginning in the election, and is getting worse every year.

Legal battles over election results are now part of every campaign's bag of tricks he refers to the "Margin of Litigation. These officials often act in ways that are or are perceived by the other party to be biased in favor of their party. Partisanship manifests itself again in the fact that liberals and conservatives are upset about totally different issues. Liberals are typically most worried about laws they believe are suppressing voters, and conservatives are worried about voter fraud. Hasen explains that, first and foremost, each party has been guilty of selectively promoting voter suppression in different forms and at different times eg: Second, people often focus on the wrong issues in-person voter fraud, isolated incidents of intimidation, etc.

I appreciated Hasen's honest, even-handed approach on these issues. On the other side, Hasen describes some issues that deserve more attention than they get. For example, the way absentee ballots are handled, the way recounts are conducted, and the fact that voting equipment is a Wild West of bad design.

Interestingly, the last chapter titled "Tweeting the Next Meltdown" and written in proved to be very prescient for the election. Hasen writes about the risks inherent in social media echo-chambers, which proved to be a big talking point this year. When it comes to the decentralized nature of elections in the US, Hasen's argument is that there are way too many inconsistent judgement calls in the way elections are administered. Everything from the equipment that is used to how votes are counted is inconsistent. He points to many examples in which poorly-trained often highly-partisan administrators make decisions that aren't even internally consistent - much less consistent across county and state lines.

Hasen proposes that we depoliticize election administration and turn it into a profession.

Editorial Reviews

He suggests establishing non-partisan panels at the federal, state, and local levels to set standards, allocate funds, and enforce regulations. He proposes that, to keep these from becoming partisan messes, they are appointed by the executive and require supermajority approval, and that they serve long terms. This seems like a rational approach, though he admits it's extremely unlikely to happen - state and local governments certainly don't like the idea of ceding power to the feds, and at every level the Democratic and Republican parties both like having the ability to exert partisan control on elections.

For someone who started with only a passing and admittedly partisan view of election law, this was a really wonderful introduction. Nov 18, Sophie added it Shelves: Very few people understand the complexity of election administration and how widely competence varies. Hasen distills those issues and the way partisans now weaponize them for political advantage. I take issue with the Hasen's suggestion that there should be "more power in the hands of the states than localities.

The Secretary of State's office is much more political than our county e. Novem Very few people understand the complexity of election administration and how widely competence varies. It also appears the SOS office has little understanding of local election administration. Laws are passed with good intentions and terrible processes e.

What's pitched as innovation is anything but e. That leaves aside the fact that the state does not currently pay its fair share and with a larger role it would need to foot an even larger portion of the bill. I can't see how consolidating power at the state level in California would lead to better results.

I'd welcome more clarity around election code but I would hate to see that benefit at at the expense of our county's ability to run superior elections. But it is easy to cast doubt on the fairness of the electoral process and the legitimacy of the winner. The story should by now be familiar: Neutral election officials, whose allegiance is not to a political party or candidate but to a fair election system, must be the norm.

These officials should be professional and technically competent to deal with the difficult task of running a complex election process and everything that it entails: Running a smooth election is no easy job, even without a meltdown. There should be uniform standards for how to deal with absentee ballots and provisional ballots. Election laws should be updated so that the rules are clear and established in advance. Apr 04, Terry rated it liked it.

Unusually readable for a political science book. That's partly because the author tells a lot of very specific "war" stories in the voting wars--many really outrageous, some just ludicrous. The fact that the author is clearly personally engaged in the voting wars also helps--he is often an in-person observer or party to a law suit or author of an amicus brief he's a law professor. While he is most critical of Republican efforts to suppress the vote, he is also balanced in condemning Democrats Unusually readable for a political science book. While he is most critical of Republican efforts to suppress the vote, he is also balanced in condemning Democrats when they over-react.

Lou Harris actually looked at the facts in the Ohio Presidential election. On that advice, so did Bobby Kennedy.


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  5. Kennedy examined the dramatic exit poll discrepancies, the dramatic anomalies in which, according to Ken Blackwell's certified results, both Democrats and proponents of gay marriage in large numbers more than the reported margin of Bush's victory voted for George W. Bush rather than John Kerry. Kennedy's well researched and documented conclusion that the Presidential election was stolen preceded the discovery that the Republican computer serving apparatus in Chattanooga, TN, SmarTech, was interconnected with the Ohio Secretary of State's entire election operation in the election.

    It also preceded the discovery of the illegal destruction of some 1. Rick Hasen dismisses Bobby Kennedy's work on the basis of a superficial criticism from an unqualified critic. Thus, Hasen's "Voting Wars" misses Karl Rove's real war on democracy through corrupt funding, voter suppression and large scale vote count rigging. According to Hasen, Karl Rove's grand thefts of elections are outside the margin of reasonable litigation and are the stuff of wild conspiracy theorists. The book contains good material on the fraudulent attack upon Democratic voter fraud, which is why I did not give it a one-star rating.

    Makes you wonder how obtuse our elected officials are! Superb acting and realistic depiction of the voting wars in This film is the best explanation for what happened and how it happened. Thank you producers, directors, and actors. Wonderful and riveting script. I agree with the summary of maskirovka.

    I strongly disagree with the reviews of: However, I do NOT support most of the author's proposed solutions to the problems he outlined in his book as I believe they would make most problems only worse.

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    For example, on page of his book Prof. Hasen suggests we need non partisan professional election administration officials at all 3 levels of government, but does not really say how to achieve that result. It would be difficult to find "non-partisan" people to serve on election boards. Furthermore, on page , he proposes the federal government register all voters, pay the cost and verify them. Again , I prefer to keep that function with the state and local government entities and out of the federal government hands.

    Centralized control could compromise liberty. In any case, I thought Prof. Hasen's book well worth reading for all americans concerned with understanding various voting problems in the U. See all 17 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway.

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