One Person, No Vote

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

One Person, No Vote is Carol Anderson’s examination of the systemic evisceration of voting rights, a long-term campaign that includes redistricting to minimize the voting power of African American voters, making voter registration more difficult, purging voters from the rolls, requiring identification that is more likely to be held by white voters than black voters, and voter intimidation with selective prosecution of organizers and voters.

One Person, No Vote is a relatively short book, but it is packed with history and information. The first chapter focuses on the history of voter disenfranchisement: the various schemes employed to prevent African Americans from voting during Jim Crow; the reaction to the Voting Rights Act; the many efforts to overturn the Voting Rights Act; and the series of recent Supreme Court decisions that have undercut and eviscerated voting rights. Citizens United unleashed the monied oligarchy. Shelby v Holder took enforcement power from the Voting Rights Act. Vieth allowed partisan gerrymandering.

The Supreme Court decisions unleased multiple strategies to suppress the votes of people of color and poor people, the people Republicans think will vote Democratic. Gerrymandering has become so extreme that in Wisconsin despite 190,000 more people voting for Democrats, the Republicans got nearly two/thirds of the seats.  Similar strategies have allowed minority rule in Congress and in many states. Voter suppression tactics like voter purges, voter ID, persecution of organizations that register voters, and voter intimidation are rampant.

Anderson has full chapters dedicated to Voter ID and Voter Purges as they are two of the most powerful and effective ways of keeping people from voting. Once someone is prevented from voting, they often do not try again, making it an efficient strategy of discouraging a voter for life. There is another chapter that looks at things like making voter registration so restrictive organizations don’t even try. For example, the League of Women Voters stopped operations in Florida. Sometimes they close voting locations so there are longer lines or relocated polling places, even in one example, moving the town’s polling place to out of town. They restrict early voting, for example, in Indiana, smaller counties are allowed multiple early voting sites, but the big cities are not. That’s the opposite of sensible.

The last chapters are on resistance and moving forward. Even they are depressing.

Anderson’s One Person, No Vote is a powerful indictment of our democracy and shows how much we have allowed democratic values to be undermined. Anderson struggles to find hope and suggestions for improvement, but when I finished the book, I felt dispirited. In the end, Anderson made me feel despair. I really want to feel resolve and hope, but there seems so little room for hope. The successful example of resistance was Alabama and Doug Jones’ victory. Anderson shows the important grassroots organizing that brought Jones to victory but Roy Moore was a uniquely flawed candidate and despite that, it took brilliant and long-term organizing to defeat him. Perhaps if she had included a few other surprise victories in special elections that were against candidates who weren’t unindicted sex offenders might have been more inspiring of hope.

This is an important book and one we need to take to heart. We need to rebuild our democracy and it might have left me more helpful if Anderson had mentioned Obama and Holder’s efforts on redistricting. We need something to hold onto or we won’t have the will to do the work.

I received a copy of One Person, No Vote from the publisher through NetGalley

One Person, No Vote at Bloomsbury
Carol Anderson author site
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How timely and on point this book is for these times.  Just coming out of Election Week since we are still seeing movies signs of it going on. I found myself shaking my head so many times about the blatant and despicable ways throughout history that people of color it certain socioeconomic status have been prevented from exercising their right to vote.  It is clear in gerrymandering; the redistricting of voting districts to influence the outcome of an election, how voting machines just don't seem to work or are missing, polling places shutting down or moving, and myriad other ways. This book is very relevant today, and it sheds some light on how we got there and still are there; and even though some progress has been made, it's not enough.  But with people getting educated and paying attention to the illegal tactics that occur to those that can't advocate for themselves, only then are we improving our system of democracy and way of life.

I received this ARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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As we memorialize September 11th, it seems fitting to review two new books that deal with democracy and equality.  Both are written by Carol Anderson, professor of African American Studies at Emory University and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for her earlier best-selling work titled White Rage (multiple copies available in the book club section at the public library).

ONE PERSON, NO VOTE discusses various attempts to limit voting, particularly by African Americans and Latinos, since the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court ruling.  Of course, as a voter, I had experienced the increase in verification and request for ID.  What honestly shocked me about Anderson's work was the systematic effort to disenfranchise certain subgroups with new laws passed by over 20 states since that time. She thoroughly documents (a third of her book is devoted to footnotes and sources) the discriminatory voter ID practices, voter roll purges, "rigging the rules," and subsequent resistance. Citing "the fallacy about rampant cheating at the polls," Anderson recently contributed to The New York Times an op-ed piece about voter fraud which she had adapted from ONE PERSON, NO VOTE.  That text lists over two dozen organizations that are doing "the heavy lifting of democracy" by registering voters (see end of this post) and/or fighting disenfranchisement.

It is absolutely critical to make sure that you are registered to vote and participate in democracy. For more information, look online at When We All Vote or League of Women Voters or Rock the Vote. We will also have displays in the Library and Library Commons listing the requirements for Illinois since the League of Women Voters will be on campus during the lunch periods on September 25, National Voter Registration Day, to register students and staff.


LOCAL APPEARANCE: Please note that Carol Anderson will be speaking 
Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, 7:00 PM  at
Evanston Township High School Auditorium
1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60201
More info available through Family Action Network at
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This book is somewhat dense, but a short read nonetheless. Full of history, goes straight into Roy Moore, argues NC as an independent nation would rank between Iran and Venezuela in measuring fully fledged democracy... I loved the final chapter's examples of resistance, particularly how Selma continues to rise as a community when in peril. Excellent book, thanks so much for the ARC, Netgalley.
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The author did an amazing job highlighting the voter oppression that has occurred in our Democracy since 1865 until the present.  Every person that is of voting age needs to read this book and then register to vote if they aren't already.  There are many hard lessons from the past to learn from in this book, but the point is that we learn from them and not repeat them.
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This book is about the history and the continuation of disenfranchisement of people of color. Anderson goes back to the beginning of voter suppression; as far back as 1865. It has not gotten better, it’s gotten systematically worse. The people responsible for essentially usurping the right to vote from those living in poor communities, have only gotten more creative with the ways they do it. Carol Anderson lays it all out on the table and sheds light on the disgusting manipulation of district boundaries (gerrymandering), the plain disregard for the VRA, and their sneaky tactics to prevent voters from exercising their fundamental right to vote. From imposing ridiculous ID laws, to closing down DMV’s, to refusing to provide transportation to those who lack it in order to get to the nearest DMV which is 50 miles from their home, just to get an is just abhorrent. Because so many people of color were unable to vote, many seats in Congress and the Senate were filled individuals who fail to represent the people of their communities, of their state. The voices of those who needed to be heard were being shut out. 
This is not a fiction novel. This is real. It’s been happening and it continues to happen even today. The U.S. needs to do a better jobs of protecting our right to choose who we want to represent us in our government. 
I totally recommend this book. We don’t hear a lot about voter suppression so we don’t imagine that could ever happen in a country as great as the United States, but it is alive and well. This book was a total eye opener.
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One Person, No Vote is an essential read in our current political climate—and thankfully, Anderson’s writing is not only informative, but also easy and pleasant to read. The book gives a detailed account of efforts to suppress the political voices of black and Latinx would-be voters, from 1865 to the 2016 election. Read this before this year’s midterm elections—and then vote for candidates who will protect voting rights.
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I got an ARC of this book.

Do you enjoy being enraged by a book? Do you live in Kansas or Alabama? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you have to read this book. Of course, your location doesn't matter, but this book will hit even harder if you are currently living in Kansas (more to come on that later).

This book starts with a history of voting rights for black Americans. This covers Jim Crow laws, lynching, socially making sure black people can't vote, changing laws to make sure black people can't vote, and so many illegal things done by politicians. The book gives that false sense of security that this epidemic is over, until chapter two. The rest of the book really covers what has been happening in the modern "post-racism" society. The society where Trump got elected and he cried that he should have gotten more votes if it weren't for voter fraud that was never found. The world of Kobach literally going against the constitution and moral logic in his voter laws in Kansas (even more on this later, I promise). This book will not sit well with you if you see black people as people, you know the whole they deserve equal rights thing that is so complicated for so many people to understand. If you value democracy, then this book will hurt. 

The book details constant law breaking by politicians in power to disenfranchise people of color and poor people from being able to vote. This book just made me sick. It was like watching a kid torture an animal while laughing and getting praised for doing in. It was horrifying and it needs to be read by more people. The more support that can be given to making sure everyone can vote, the better the country will be. Right now there are too many politicians that control things in a way that guarantees their victory or the victory of their friends with no regard for what that means for the people in that state. There is a lovely section on Roy Moore, which happened so recently that it is still on so many minds. An accused serial pedophile was running for office AND ALMOST WON. How has America sunk so low that someone who hurts children repeatedly become the person that gets a fancy office and more power to hurt children? Part of that is because of the voting laws that make is so thousands to millions of people are not able to vote, part of it is a lack of good education in that state. Both of which can be controlled by the people in power, but people with no education will follow like sheep if they can even figure out how to vote. So why would the people in power fix the issues when it gives them ultimate power?

Kobach's reign of terror over Kansas voters was described in such great detail throughout the book. It gets so graphic that I can't imagine anyone even considering voting for him for governor since he has such little regard for people. I only wish that this book could have been pushed back a few months to detail his morally bankrupt running for governor where he is controlling all the recounts and magically pulling ahead in the polls. I would also like to note that Kobach has demanded that the state of Kansas pay all of his court costs and fees for when he was sued for his unconstitutional voting laws and then his contempt of court fees too when he refused to listen to court orders. All things that happened that this book misses, but only  because the book in being released in two weeks. I would also like to note that trans people were/are also in jeopardy of not being able to vote in Kansas due to the unconstitutional laws that Kobach started and the way that one has to apply to change gender markers in Kansas. While trans rights are not the point of this book, it felt like it was a good point to mention to show that Kobach goes after all minorities if he can, making him that much more of a slime. 

This is a book you need to read. No matter your background, no matter your political views, this book will point out so many things that are so important. Things that range from politicians consistently lie about voter fraud despite having no proof and this ranges from Trump to Kobach to the Jim Crow politicians. If you get nothing else, hopefully it gives you a healthy distrust of those in power and gives you enough pause to fact check what is being told to you by politicians more than you did before.
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Carol Anderson is brilliant, and this book presents such a well crafted and eye opening argument. You may have heard political pundits claim Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election because black and brown voters didn't show up, but Anderson pushes back against that claim with this clear, concise, and compelling description of racialized voter suppression from Jim Crow through today. People of color didn't fail Democrats; they were systematically excluded, disenfranchised, and discouraged from turning out to the polls. One Person, No Vote is impeccably researched and perfectly argued. It's a must-read for anyone interested in politics, policy, and polling.
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Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC of this book. Much like Rat F@(Ke! of a few years ago, this book is more important than it is good. Ms. Anderson clearly has an agenda here and I think, it is obvious without the editorializing. Sometimes, the facts just speak for themselves. Presenting massive voter suppression and nefarious tactics are good enough without words like "nefarious." If one were just to read about what happened in Kansas or Alabama, one would be moved to action. When one is inundated with a lot of emotion about the events, one feels manipulated. I know that people who should read this book will not and people who already think one way will read this for some self-fulfilling reason, but I wonder if some of the adjectives and adverbs were removed, if the book would actually be more powerful. I will tell people to read it because it is important, but I will temper my recommendation with "look past the editorializing and see the facts." Facts matter. This book is filled with them. That is good enough.
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Well-researched and well-written, this book clearly outlines voter suppression in the US: its history and its status.  It made me want to holler and wave it overhead to get everyone's attention.  It's a quick read.  Voter suppression is the most un-American, anti-democratic thing we do as a nation.  It's one of the most important issues facing us today, since it precludes solving many other problems.  This is a great read.  A frustrating, maddening, horrifying read.  But a great read.  Thank you Carol Anderson.

I got a copy to review from Net Galley.
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As we hear from so many in conservative circles, the Constitution is law and it's the defining document everything should flow from. OK, I think in abroad sense we can all agree that's where our country took the first shaky step towards the vision of a Democratic Republic. Yet, almost from the time the Equal Protection Clause was enshrined to protect our right to votes as citizens for those we want to represent us in Congress and elsewhere, it was attacked, undermined, avoided, and even openly ignored by those in power and wanted to stay that way.

'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] Consistution 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 Heorgians, 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 unplattable 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.
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