Finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction Longlisted for the National Book Award in Nonfiction Named one of the Best Books of the Year by: Washington Post *Boston Globe * NPR* Bustle * BookRiot *New York Public Library From the award-winning,New York Times bestselling author ofWhite Rage, the startling--and timely--history of voter suppression in America, with a foreword by Senator Dick Durbin. In herNew York Times bestsellerWhite Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. WithOne Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as theShelbyruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice. Focusing on the aftermath ofShelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans.
The author talks about how African-Americans, in particular, were disenfranchised by Jim Crow and later voting laws and regulations that were meant to curb their participation in voting. Anyone* who was taught a solid course of American history in high school has heard about the various measures that southern states took to prevent African-Americans from voting: poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, etc (unfortunately, even today, I have known people who were taught various fables about American history - how the south was noble and perfect before those pesky carpetbaggers ruined everything, for instance, so I do NOT take for granted that every American citizen was given access to a proper American history in school).
The times have changed, but the race to disqualify voters who might not vote for a particular party or candidate continues. Just look at the midterm elections and you can see the absolute muck and mire that is our electoral process at times. Brian Kemp, who took pride in "maintaining" the voting rolls (aka purging them), ran for Georgia governor WHILE being in the office that is responsible for "maintaining" the very electorate voting for or against him. Florida is swamped with uncounted absentee ballots (I have a friend whose ballot was mailed in mid-October, and to this date is STILL not counted - she is Latina and her name makes her heritage pretty clear, so I wonder...). And Republicans are crying foul and about "voter fraud" even though they have absolutely NO EVIDENCE for their claims (we are living in a post-truth society, I fear - just shout as loudly as you can about something, and eventually the sheep who can't be bothered to find out the truth themselves with bleat along with you).
The terminology is different, but the effects are the same - and that is the whole point, isn't it? Especially now that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been gutted. Republicans can give a sly wink and say that their new policies aren't discriminatory, even as the effects of their policies show otherwise.
The author talks mostly about African-Americans being disenfranchised, but she also discusses other racial minorities being targeted (North Dakota, for instance, has effectively taken away the right to vote from many Native Americans, as many are not assigned street addresses but PO Boxes due to the rural location of their tribal lands, and that is not "acceptable" now at the polls).
This book is extremely important to our election process, our democracy, and our nation as a whole. Read it.
Anderson has chosen to keep the book concise, which makes it an easy read, but there's probably an even longer book to be written here. The notes are extensive, which makes it possible to track various specific issues if you want. Understandably, given that Anderson is an African-American studies professor, African American voters are her primary focus. She does discuss Latino vote suppression, but I felt that a little more exploration of that issue would have been welcome, especially since politicians seem less likely to cloak their racism when holding out the specter of non-citizen voting.
With only a month to go till the election, this is essential reading--especially since Brian Kemp is singled out for his history of vote suppression in Georgia.
One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson does an incredible job by showing the immediate relevance to the election of Donald Trump, then takes it all the way back to the Jim Crow South where the Democratic former slave owners and other white folks who openly vowed to keep African Americans in their place, which was most certainly not in the voting booth.
The right to vote is completely colorblind, but the results of disrupting and destroying that right is admittedly racist. If you could find in history where a county or district was redrawn to actually lower the amount of eligible white voters, you can be sure underneath the veneer are ripples from that decision directed solely at squashing the minority vote.
Anderson lifts every rock and opens the door to politician's closets long since gone to detail and display how all the efforts wind together into a single rope binding those they deem 'unworthy', 'unclean', and 'unAmerican.' Here are some examples that only scratch the surface, but they will prove the length of time and depth of inhumanity employed in these efforts:
"Senator Theodore Bilbo (D-MS), one of the most virulent racists to grace the halls of Congress, boasted of the chicanery nearly half a century later. "What keeps 'em [blacks] from voting is section 244 of the [Mississippi] Constitution of 1890...It says that a man to register must be able to read and explain the Constitution or explain the Constitution when read to him." Mississippi, the senator bragged, "then wrote a constitution that damn few white men and no n*****s at all can explain.""
That rule in the Mississippi Constitution was over 120-years ago. Today is only different in the language, but not the intent:
"He [Brian Kemp (R-GA)] has displayed a tendency to consistently err on the side of disenfranchisement: such as "when his office lost voter registrations for 40,000 Georgians, the vast majority whom happen to be people of color"; and when his office leaked social security number and driver's license data of voters not once but twice; and when he refused to upgrade the voting machines throughout the state that received an F rating because they were easily hackable and "haven't been updated since 2005 and run on Windows 2000." Kemp had also "crusaded against" and "investigated" voter registration drives by Asian Americans and predominantly black groups. He actually launched a criminal inquiry into the registration of 85,000 new voters, "many of them minorities," but "found problems with only 25 registrants, and "not surprisingly, after all the time, money, and publicity, "no charges were filed.""
Democrats created the beast of voter disenfranchisement with voter intimidation and violence, but when the GOP came in during the Southern Strategy, they realized quickly the unpalatable terms and manner of think could no longer survive. Hence the appearance of "voter fraud" and a gaggle of new "voter ID" laws to protect the integrity of our elections. The GOP took the beast and let it gorge through the advent of innocuous sounding legislation all over the country. One of the crowning achievements of their current "voter ID" white knight, Kris Kobach (R-KS), was the creation of Crosscheck, and interstate program that would collect voter data and double-check them with other states looking for those evildoers who were registered in two different places.
In case you were thinking people like that would get run out of office, the truth is far sadder. Kris Kobach is running for Governor of Kansas, Brian Kemp is running for Governor of GA in the 2018 midterms. Kemp was endorsed by Trump and won the primary and will now go up against Stacy Adams (D-GA) who could very well become the first black woman to sit in the governor's chair. Kobach is still championing the totally unverified and clear straw man argument of "immense voter fraud" and his online baby, Crosscheck, which when studied has a failure rate of over 99%. As of comments I read only today, folks inside the White House are crossing fingers and toes Trump does not endorse Kobach because the Don Quixote of voting trickery has become almost as toxic as Trump himself.
One Person, No Vote should be sent to the offices of every politician in Congress, and every state legislature to remind them and warn them of the breadth of how much damage this programs and crooked politicians have already done. Everything you need to arm yourself and others against losing your Constitutionally protected right is in the book. Read it, read it again, then take action.