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The Fight to Vote

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  32 reviews
“Important and engaging” —The Washington Post

From the president of NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice and the author of The Second Amendment, the history of the long struggle to win voting rights for all citizens.

In The Second Amendment, Michael Waldman traced the ongoing argument on gun rights from the Bill of Rights to the current day. Now in The Fight to Vote, Michael Wa
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Simon Schuster
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Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
As the next presidential election in the United States approaches, I was drawn to this book by Michael Waldman, which explores this history and importance of voting. Waldman takes the reader as far back as the Founding Fathers and the constitutional conventions to explore some of the earliest sentiments on voting and elections in the early republic. He tackles some of the sentiments about how the Fathers thought of constructing voting eligibility and how the threshold might make for a stronger c ...more
Scott Rhee
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
“[The] right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.” ---Thomas Paine

“Who are to be the electors of the federal representatives? Not the rich, more than the poor; not the learned, more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names, more t
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Waldman's 'The Fight To Vote' is an outstanding , well written history on the struggle to ensure America's most basic promise... the right to vote. Starting at the birth of our nation, following the expansion and contraction of voting rights, to our current sad state, it offers solutions as well as insight.

Read this book if you care about American democracy it's as simple as that.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While not the easiest book you'll ever read, the detail on voting and voter registration in this country, as well as background on campaign finance is extremely good. We've missed a lot in history classes, much to the nation's detriment. ...more
Dimitris Papastergiou
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
When your whole point of view on any topic/subject is "when this happened back in XX's, humanity did a great thing and *insert minority here* could vote." ...then you've lost me.

That kind of phrasing or thinking is bullshit in my opinion. That's like a mother/father saying "I take care of my children"... YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO THAT, you stupid fuck.
WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE fucking civilised and fucking good. We're not supposed to be selfish and racist or anything fucking dumb thing.

The right to v
Richard Jespers
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wish I had read this book when it came out during the run-up to the 2016 election—when I bought it. Even though the last chapters seem dated now, considering what the country has been through, the early chapters give an excellent historical account of how this country has ALWAYS been divided into two camps: those who would like to allow everyone to vote and those who would only have so-called elites vote. White (heterosexual, one assumes) male landowners were comprised that group in colonial t ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very strong and readable history of our tortured history of voting rights. Don't expect much on actions in the past year or possibilities for the future but look for a clear understanding of how we got to where we are. ...more
Paul Huffman
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall very engaging and comprehensive in providing an overview of voter access and voting policy through the nation's history. I appreciated the large number of specific references to practices and conflicts that have existed, the forces driving them, and the counterforces which came into play. Of great value is the detailed addendum which provided a wealth of references on specific periods or aspects of elections and voting rights which can enable the interested ready to get as deep as they w ...more
Susan Miller
This is a comprehensive study of the right/fight to vote from 1787 to 2016. It explores the actions of political groups, the courts, political parties and the people in the ongoing fight to either enlarge or shrink the electorate. It provides significant detail throughout the decades, considering effects on both outcomes and rights. The basic question of weather economic power should prevail in the determination of elections, or should the "one person, one vote" apply not just to the vote but to ...more
Audrey Baughman
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I found this book very challenging. I am very familiar with voting rights, national movements to gain the right to vote, and voter suppression as I have studied the topic very thoroughly over the last five months or so, but "The Fight to Vote" still brought topics to light that I had never known about before. Waldman cites legislation, Amendments, historical occurrences, and Supreme Court cases in an overall guide to the history of voting in the United States. This is a very comprehensive book, ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Voting, access to the ballot, voter suppression, are all very important and highly relevant. I wasn't entirely excited by the author's previous book but I thought the book was still an important read. The author goes through, well, the fight to vote. From the Constitution and on through the struggles down to just about the modern day.

I agree with the negative reviews. The book is very much "First A then B then C happened." It's also a pretty sanitized in many ways. I'm not asking for blood and g
Hannah Krueger
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was published back in 2016, right before the elections, and man oh man, there are depressingly prescient moments where you swing wildly between wanting to laugh and sob hysterically and throw this book against a wall. Most of this book is a thorough, honest history of opting in America, including the fact that the founders wouldn’t have wanted most of the people who vote today to do so, and also that the suffragettes were pretty racist. It also covers extremely depressing recent develo ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
I had difficulty understanding some of Waldman's points. I believe that this is partially due to my woeful lack of background in the subject matter; however, the gaps in my knowledge could have been filled almost effortlessly had the book's language been more precise and had less been assumed. That said, I appreciate the engaging style and the bringing together of a great deal of information, particularly with regard to pre-21st-century history. ...more
Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it
The right to vote has been long fought since the first days of America’s independence and it still remains a core issue for the country today. For the author, major gains have been made over generations, including letting African-American and women to vote. However, new battles have present itself like voter ID laws and the corrupting influence of money in politics. Therefore, American society should seek to fight and preserve for their fair democracy.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating read on the history of voters’ rights in the US up through 2016. You can tell he author most likely leans left, but mostly takes a very unbiased approach to the issues of voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and campaign finance, laying blame on all parties seeking power. Anyone who wants to better understand voting rights issues should start here.
Gordon Kwok
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall, a very good book by a good writer who makes the best of an otherwise esoteric topic. However, like a lot of esoteric topic, just because it is understood by few obscures how important it is. Here, the issue is voting rights and the continuous back and forth between those trying to expand the right to vote (making it easier for people to register and vote) and those trying to take it away (voter suppression).

If you are looking for a good introduction book to the topic of the history of t
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thorough but concise and clear history of voting rights in the United States, up to the cusp of the 2016 election. Argues for voting systems and policies that encourage the participation of any many people has possible, and identifies those who have worked, and continue to work, to insure government by the rich and powerful through voter suppression in many forms.
Zhivko Kabaivanov
Nov 03, 2020 rated it liked it
The Fight to Vote (2016) is about the struggle for democracy in the United States, from the American Revolutionary War right up to the present day. These blinks detail the battle that has been waged over generations to guarantee the right to vote, and explain how this right continues to be undermined.

Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This will make you VERY aware of what Congress and the Supreme Court may or may not do to protect our hard won right to vote. Never take it ,or any right you have for that matter, for granted. It can all go away while you're watching Jerry Springer! ...more
Stephen Rynkiewicz
The originalist view of elections was unenlightened. The Constitution gave the Electoral College authority to choose the president. and state lawmakers voted for Senator. Eventually white male landowners won the ballot. Former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, now running the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, tracks how we got to (kind of) universal suffrage, and recounts recent efforts at voter suppression. Fun fact: In the original days of fake news, Abe Lincoln funded a German-langua ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written with Waldman's usual articulate grasp of his subject matter. I was fascinated by the Founding Fathers chapters but felt impatient through the rest of it. I've set it aside to try and re-read at a later point. ...more
Wenshi Gao
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The history of fighting for vote in America is tough for people except White rich men.Read in Blinkist.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Fight to Vote, is a good brief, 268 pages for the entire history of the United States, reference on the history of voting in a democracy/representative republic. The spoiler is that we have never been without voter suppression in American, since our inception. Michael Waldman does his best to stay in the middle of the road, pinning partisan voter suppression mostly on Democrats prior to the Civil Rights Act, and Republicans post, and more recently on the Roberts lead Supreme Court. Even the ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and thorough look at current American democracy from 1776 through 2016. The subject was interesting, and often overwhelmingly emotional, and worth the time to finish it.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive history of voting in the United States that highlights IMPORTANT issues up to the 2016 election and considers those beyond including Citizens United ("dark money" and the billions donated to political parties), gerrymandering and poor voter registration (60% of eligible population votes in presidential elections and 40% in midterm elections). A passage I think is important:

"Some perspective: recall the scandal that first led to the first federal campaign finance law, that electri
Kristi Richardson
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” Abraham Lincoln

This was an engrossing story of the evolution of voting in the United States. Today, we take for granted the right to vote but the constitution originally only gave votes to white, male landowners. The Senators were voted by the States Governors and Legislators, not the people.

Before we were a country, some colonies allowed women and free blacks the right to vote. That was taken away in the Constitution. Women were angry when Black men we
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics
A breezy, very readable history of the expansion – and retreat – of the right to vote since Jefferson wrote the immortal words, "All men are created equal." The book is split into four parts – the founding generation, the 19th century constriction of democracy, 20th century expansion and today's current retreat from voter equality. The first three parts are excellent; if anything, they read too quickly, and I wish Waldman had spent more time delving into the details. The last part is less histor ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting book which looks at the whole history of democracy and the voting franchise in America, back to colonial times. (In contrast to the other recent book I read "Give Us The Vote" by Ari Berman, which focused on the time period since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.) While there is some hand-wringing over the recent efforts for conservatives, aided by the Roberts Court, to suppress minority, elderly and youth voting, this is put in the context of a long history of repeated e ...more
victor harris
May 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-history
Timely as we are in an election year and there has been a cascade of legislation to deter people from voting. The battle to secure and retain the franchise has been ongoing since America began its political experiment. From the LBJ era with the Voting Rights Act and through the late 70s, there was a commitment to protecting the rights of minority voters. Since Reagan and his conservative court appointments the trend has been to reverse that trend. Recent Supreme Court decisions have sanctioned t ...more
Nelson Rosario
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memory
The right to vote is in my opinion our most crucial right. This book covers the growth and contraction of that right during our country's history. The book is accessible, scholarly, and extremely timely during this unprecedented 2016 presidential election cycle. There are many nuggets of information that will surprise most readers. The author does a wonderful job of weaving together the history of the major elements related to voting: registration, machinery, campaign finance, primaries, turnout ...more
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24 likes · 5 comments
“And there were men who worked as hard to restrict the vote as others did to expand it, such as John Randolph of Roanoke, who fought to deny the franchise to men without property, declaring, "I am an aristocrat. I love liberty. I hate equality.” 1 likes
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