Voting and Political Representation in America: Issues and Trends

ABC-CLIO. 2 vols. Feb. 2020. 774p. ed. by ed. by Mark P. Jones. ISBN 9781440860843. $204. REF
Jones (Latin American studies, political science, Rice Univ.; Texas Politics Today) begins with an introduction that covers the United States’ often dispiriting history of restrictions, largely failed reform attempts, and voter suppression, especially targeting African Americans, women, Native Americans, and Asians. The editor also considers representation in state and federal elected government, political parties, voter registration, the Electoral College, party primary rules, and single-member districts. The volumes’ scope is wide, from Supreme Court decisions, candidates, and government functions to all levels of elections, tactics, and movements such as populism. Descriptive and evaluative entries are usually two to three pages each, but many offer extended context and analysis (e.g., voter fraud, redistricting). Articles on polling, social media, racial gerrymandering, and voting methods sit alongside fascinating information about ballot measures that average a grad school reading level. Concerning ballot access, the work cites that United States has more in common with Russia, Iran, and Turkey than with any nation in Western or central Europe, and that our Senate is the world’s most malapportioned legislative chamber, and skewed redistricting maps are also unique to the United States. Several articles examine absentee/mail-in voting, noting possible effects on turnout, but not whether one party benefits. Aids include a lengthy chronology, further reading, and numerous primary documents, such as Mississippi Black Codes, as well as an index.
VERDICT These scrupulously neutral, wide-ranging, and clearly written volumes depict many issues within the U.S. system(s) of voting. Everyone from secondary students on could learn from this timely work.
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