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The Voting Wars

The Voting Wars

Richard L. Hasen
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Voting Wars
    Book Description:

    In 2000, 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. Then, abruptly, one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history,Bush v. 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. These allegations have shaken public confidence, as campaigns deploy "armies of lawyers" and the partisan press revs up when elections are expected to be close and the stakes are high.

    Richard L. Hasen, a respected authority on election law, chronicles and analyzes the battles over election rules from 2000 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.

    Also available:The Fraudulent Fraud Squad, an e-excerpt fromThe Voting WarsReleased February 2012 9780300187489 $1.99

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18421-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction: THE NEXT MELTDOWN
    (pp. 1-10)

    Election Day. Another presidential election goes down to the wire. It all hinges on the battleground state of Wisconsin, which has erupted recently in partisan rancor as the governor tried to break the power of public sector unions. As the polling places close, election returns begin to trickle in from the various counties

    The lead between the Democratic and Republican candidates seesaws all night as returns roll in. Some counties report quickly, others slowly, and the candidates remain within a few hundred votes of each other. In the middle of the night, when it appears that all the returns are...

  6. 1 All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Florida
    (pp. 11-40)

    “Well, why isn’t the standard the one that voters are instructed to follow, for goodness sakes? I mean, it couldn’t be clearer. I mean, why don’t we go to that standard?” United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sounded exasperated, her voice rising.¹

    Al Gore’s attorney, David Boies, was patiently trying to explain to Justice O’Connor and the other justices at the oral argument inBush v. Gorehow the Palm Beach County canvassing board decided which votes to count for Gore, George W. Bush, or the other eight presidential candidates in the November 2000 election when the board...

  7. 2 The Fraudulent Fraud Squad
    (pp. 41-74)

    Mario Gallegos had undergone a liver transplant in Houston, and after tests showed elevated enzyme levels and the possibility of rejection, he needed a biopsy. Gallegos had complications after the biopsy, and against his doctor’s advice, he went to Austin and was resting in a hospital bed installed inside the Texas capitol building.¹

    Gallegos was a Democrat representing the Houston area in the Texas Senate. In May 2007 he was the only person standing in the way of the state’s adopting a strict voter identification law requiring people to show a specified form of photo ID before they could vote....

  8. 3 ¡No Votes!
    (pp. 75-104)

    ¡No votes!” That’s what the 2010 television advertisement from Latinos for Reform urged Spanish-speaking Nevada voters. “Don’t vote!” The full ad explained the logic:

    It’s an election year. So here come more promises about immigration reform. Last time, President Obama and the Democratic leadership made a commitment that immigration reform would be passed within a year. But two years have gone by and nothing. Not even a vote in Congress. With a Democratic president and supermajorities in both chambers of Congress, they have no excuses. Clearly, the Democratic leadership betrayed us. And now, when they need our votes, they are...

  9. 4 Who Counts?
    (pp. 105-130)

    As in 2004, the 2008 presidential election in Ohio was nasty and contentious. The race there could determine the next president. Democrats and Republicans were engaged in an all-out war over election rules, from registration to early voting to cleaning up the voter rolls. Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio secretary of state, was at the center of the storm.

    Secretaries of state serve as chief elections officers in most states, and in thirty-three of them, including Ohio, the position is an elected partisan one. Ohioans elected Brunner, a Democrat, in 2006 following the controversial tenure of her Republican predecessor, Kenneth Blackwell....

  10. 5 Margin of Litigation
    (pp. 131-158)

    The morning after Election Day in 2008, Norm Coleman faced a tough question from reporter Curt Brown of the Minneapolis news paper theStar Tribune. “If you were down by 725 [votes], would you say forget it and save the taxpayers’ money?”¹

    It is a question no candidate slightly ahead of a competitor wants to answer. Although the public accepts election totals as they come in on election night as an accurate representation of the truth, such numbers are usually wrong and almost always incomplete. In the rush to get everything done on Election Night, election officials sometimes misreport numbers...

  11. 6 Deus ex Machina
    (pp. 159-182)

    Hail! to the victors valiant

    Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes

    Hail! Hail! to Michigan

    the leaders and best

    Hail! to the victors valiant

    Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes

    Hail! Hail! to Michigan,

    the champions of the West!¹

    Paul Stenbjorn, the technology guru of the Washington, D.C., elections and ethics board, was not amused, but many in Ann Arbor were. The University of Michigan’s fight song, “The Victors,” was playing through the board’s computers. Go Blue!

    The Wolverine hacking came in response to the board’s 2010 invitation to computer geeks to “give it your best shot” at exposing vulnerabilities in an...

  12. 7 Tweeting the Next Meltdown
    (pp. 183-202)

    Election Day, August 2011. Following the contentious Wisconsin Supreme Court race and the controversy over Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickolaus’s handling of the ballots in that race, it was time for another vote.

    Justice David Prosser, the ultimate winner in that earlier race and a former Republican legislative leader, did what everyone expected: he cast the deciding vote on the state Supreme Court to uphold the Wisconsin law limiting the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions against a challenge that the state legislature did not follow proper procedures in passing it. Few doubt that had Democrat Joanne Kloppenburg won...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 203-234)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 235-239)