ELECTION MELTDOWN by Richard L. Hasen
Kirkus Star

ELECTION MELTDOWN

Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A hard-hitting critique of the American election process as timely as it is frightening.

In a slim, cogently argued analysis, legal scholar Hasen (Law and Political Science/Univ. of California, Irvine; The Justice of Contradictions: Anthony Scalia and the Politics of Disruption, 2018, etc.) points to four dangers threatening the voting process in 2020 and beyond: “voter suppression, pockets of electoral incompetence, foreign and domestic dirty tricks,” and “a rising incendiary rhetoric about ‘stolen’ or ‘rigged’ elections.” Each of these problems causes voters to distrust the fairness and accuracy of elections—the basic tenet of democracy—and may provide fuel for Donald Trump in 2020 if he refuses to concede a close election by raising “unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.” As Michael Cohen remarked in February 2019, “given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” That fear was so great before the 2016 election that the Barack Obama administration, assuming a Hillary Clinton victory, “came up with contingency plans,” calling for an oversight committee of congressional Republicans, former presidents, and former Cabinet-level officials to validate the election result. Hasen looks in depth at Republicans’ efforts to suppress voter registration and notes that as the 2020 election season began, “more states passed new laws aimed at curtailing voter registration drives in the face of high African American turnout.” Addressing the problem of technological disruptions of the voting process and manipulation of public opinion, the author urges members of the current administration to take seriously “cyberthreats to America’s power grid, critical infrastructure, and voting technology, and that they take defensive measures despite being led by a man who has proved himself more than willing to look the other way (at best) regarding Russian involvement in American elections, particularly when that involvement benefits him.” Overall, Hasen calls for “nonpartisan, professionalized election administration” and enhanced civics education about the nation’s vital “multifaceted plural democracy.”

Required reading for legislators and voters.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-30-024819-7
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2019




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