New: Book Report: Deliver the Vote

Deliver the Vote is a history of crooked elections in the U.S. of A. It doesn't try to describe all crooked elections. Just some good stories, just enough to fill up a few hundred pages.

George Washington bought booze for voters. As far as corrupt electioneering goes, this was pretty benign--Washington wasn't having anybody beat up, shot, or what-have-you. He was just handing out alcohol. Our elections nowadays are fairly harmless--the theft is done through miscounting, not through violence. But there's been a constant theme of theft. If anyone tells you that the 2000 election was an anomaly, laugh at them.

Bleeding Kansas.

Rutherfraud Hayes.

In the late 1800s, Southern Democrats weren't happy about black folks, generally Republicans, getting the vote. So the Democrats used violence and ballot-stuffing to wipe out those votes. When you hear about civil rights folks heading South, risking harm at the hands of violent racist Southerners, it's easy to think, "Well, that violence happened because these 'invaders' riled them up." But the violence had been going on the whole time.

A polling place gets moved to a place where some uppity neighborhood's residents can't find it. Mysterious boxes of votes are "found" late on election night. When the women of Texas wanted suffrage, it was once voted down, with most of the votes coming from mysterious precincts whose polls had never opened.

Bush/Gore does get a mention--the overseas absentee ballots that arrived after the election ended, many without postmarks, but which were nonetheless counted.

Maybe we get the government we deserve, but we don't necessarily get the government we mostly ask for.

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Posted 2008-10-08