Jonathan Zimmerman: Voting 'Reform' Across the AgesRoundup: Historians' Take
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and lives in Narberth. He is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory" (Yale University Press).
Once upon a time, American elections were rife with corruption. Party bosses bought votes with strong drink and cold cash, or stuffed ballot boxes with bogus names. Then along came the good-government reformers who cleaned up our democracy with new election laws and regulations.
That's the story we all learned in high school. And it's true, up to a point. But it leaves out a crucial fact: Those measures also sought to bar certain people from the polls. The goal of election reform wasn't simply a clean vote; it was also to keep out the "wrong" kind of voter.
Pennsylvania's voter-ID law, which is being challenged in state court, follows this pattern. On its face, it seems neutral and unimpeachable: Who could object to safeguards against fraud? But in practice, as opponents told the court last week, it would make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote....
comments powered by Disqus
- Watch every presidential debate since 1960
- Clinton-Trump Debate Expected to Be Rare Draw in a Polarized Age
- Obama hails opening of the African American Museum
- Palestinians' Abbas seeks British apology for 1917 Jewish homeland declaration
- Anger as Churchill's home turned into Hitler HQ for Transformers 5
- Karl Dietrich Bracher, German Historian of Nazi Era, Dies at 94
- Allan Lichtman predicts Trump will win
- Doris Kearns Goodwin scores an interview with Barack Obama
- Art historian Kellie Jones wins a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant
- Historians note that prisoners have been treated inhumanely throughout American history