Election 101 — Understanding How We Vote

Introduction

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In the run-up to the election, months are spent considering candidates, positions, and political parties, but it really all comes down to a single moment for each voter. The actual act of voting almost becomes an afterthought after the hoopla of the general election, but as the 2000 Election demonstrated, voting practices, efficiency, and accuracy can be incredibly important.

Fortunately, we have numerous books that explore problems with our electoral system and offer solutions. In a landmark book, The Democracy Index, Heather Gerken argues for a ranking of election practices. These rankings would “grade” districts on things like how long voters waited on line, if polling locations were adequately staffed, and whether their votes are accurately counted and making these rankings public would encourage districts to adopt best practices and improve elections. In Electronic Elections, R. Michael Alvarez & Thad E. Hall show how e-voting can work in the United States and why making it work right is essential to the future vibrancy of the democratic process.

Other books remind us that candidates aren’t the only things that appear in the voting booth (Voting the Agenda by Stephen P. Nicholson) and that elections don’t only happen on a nation-wide, or even state-wide, scale (Local Elections and the Politics of Small-Scale Democracy by J. Eric Oliver).

–Chuck Myers, group publisher in social sciences and editor in political science

 

Exclusive Excerpt

Click here to download an article on Democracy as a National Value

Excerpted from The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History.

 

Featured Book

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The Democracy Index
Why Our Election System Is Failing and How to Fix It
Heather K. Gerken

 

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reading list

 


 

The Reading List

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Electronic Elections

The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy
R. Michael Alvarez & Thad E. Hall
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The Democracy Index

Why Our Election System Is Failing and How to Fix It
Heather K. Gerken
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Voting the Agenda

Candidates, Elections, and Ballot Propositions
Stephen P. Nicholson
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Mathematics and Democracy

Designing Better Voting and Fair-Division Procedures
Steven J. Brams
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Popular Efficacy in the Democratic Era

A Reexamination of Electoral Accountability in the United States, 1828-2000
Peter F. Nardulli
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Local Elections and the Politics of Small-Scale Democracy

J. Eric Oliver, With Shang E. Ha & Zachary Callen
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Breaking the Deadlock

The 2000 Election, the Constitution, and the Courts
Richard A. Posner
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A Logic of Expressive Choice

Alexander A. Schuessler
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A Behavioral Theory of Elections

Jonathan Bendor, Daniel Diermeier, David A. Siegel & Michael M. Ting

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