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A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

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Volume 14, Issue 1


Race, Party, and American Voting Rights

David A. Bateman
  • Corresponding author
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Government, 218 White Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 14853-7901, USA
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Published Online: 2016-04-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2016-0005


There are few advanced democracies that simultaneously make voting as easy and as difficult as the US. This essay outlines some of the recent changes in voting rights and election law, with a particular attention to the causes and consequences of restrictive changes. I argue that both historically and today this pattern has been driven by strategic partisan calculation, which in the American context almost necessarily results in patterns of access and exclusion that fall sharply on lines of race, class, and civic status. The recent skirmishes in the “voting wars” are a continuation of this historical dynamic, enabled by the unique institutional context in which American elections take place, in which parties retain control over the parameters and administration of a highly fragmented electoral system. So long as this remains the case, and so long as there are relatively few institutions capable of checking the incentive to engage in partisan manipulation, the “voting wars” will continue and are likely even to intensify.


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-04-22

Published in Print: 2016-04-01

Citation Information: The Forum, Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 39–65, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, ISSN (Print) 2194-6183, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2016-0005.

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