Gilda R. Daniels, "Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression" (NYU Press, 2020)


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Are we asleep at the (common)wheel? Civil rights attorney and law professor Gilda R. Daniels insists that contemporary voter ID laws, voter deception, voter purges, and disenfranchisement of felons constitute a crisis of democracy – one that should remind us of past poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, and physical intimidation – that should spur us to action. Uncounted combines law, history, oral history, and democratic theory to illuminate a 21st century, premediated legal strategy to disenfranchise voters of color.

In Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression (NYU Press, 2020), Daniels establishes the context of 21st-century voter suppression then focuses on the importance of the Voting Rights Act in discouraging voter suppression – and the negative impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013). She elucidates the types – and impacts – of voter deception with attention to possible impacts on the presidential election in 2020. Throughout the work, she connects past and present to demonstrate the radical impact of voter suppression on voting and this is particularly apparent in the chapters on voter purging and felon disenfranchisement.

The podcast includes a fascinating discussion of the impact of COVID-19 on voter suppression – particularly regarding absentee voting. Daniels complements her nuanced analysis of the cycles of voter suppression in America with concrete steps for combatting it urging people to educate, legislate, litigate, and participate.

This timely book offers an analysis that is both deep and highly accessible. It is simultaneously a work of scholarship and a practical call to action.

Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013).

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