Much Sound and Fury, or the New Jim Crow?
The Twenty-First Century's Restrictive New Voting Laws and Their Impact
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Intensive look at restrictive new voting laws ostensibly designed to target voter fraud but criticized as being racially-based voter suppression.
Since 2003, several US states have passed new laws that complicate the process of voter registration and voting. Framed as controls on voter fraud, the laws have spawned controversy in both the courts and public opinion, the latter falling along a sharp partisan divide. Much Sound and Fury, or the New Jim Crow? offers a scholarly analysis, not of the intent but rather the impact of these laws. Beginning with a historical overview of the expanding and contracting right to vote, particularly regarding its impact on African Americans, subsequent chapters use quantitative analysis to analyze the impact of identification requirement laws, proof-of-citizenship requirements, felony disenfranchisement, and gerrymandering. Before 2020, the impact of the laws leaned slightly negative but was mixed. More recent developments, however, point to a far more alarming implication—widespread belief in factually-baseless allegations of fraud, which undermines Americans' trust and faith in our constitutional democracy; these allegations reached a crescendo in 2021 as a violent mob seized the US Capitol. The book concludes with an afterword on the 2020 elections and their aftermath.
Michael A. Smith is Professor of Political Science and Chair of Social Sciences, Sociology, and Criminology at Emporia State University. He is the author of several books, including Low Taxes and Small Government: Sam Brownback's Great Experiment in Kansas (with Robert J. Grover and Rob Catlett).
"Unique and very timely, this book makes a significant contribution to American politics, state and local politics, and urban politics. The chapters' varied approaches unite to provide an excellent analysis of this extremely important topic." — Sharon D. Wright Austin, author of The Caribbeanization of Black Politics: Race, Group Consciousness, and Political Participation in America