Center for Voting and Democracy Recent Recommended Books

July, 2001

Whose Vote Counts?
Bushmanders & Bullwinkles.
Challenges to Equality.
Fair and Effective Representation.
Elections in Australia, Ireland and Malta Under the STV.
The Right to Vote.
Elections as Instruments of Democracy.
A Right to Representation
Behind the Ballot Box.
The U.S. House of Representatives: Reform or Rebuild?
Patterns of Democracy.
Making Every Vote Count.
Lift Every Voice.
The Universe and the Teacup.
The International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design.
Electoral Laws and the Survival of Presidential Democracies.
Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual
The Tyranny of the Majority.
Recharging the American Experiment.
Real Choices/New Voices
United States Electoral Systems
Seats & Votes: The Effects & Determinants of Electoral Systems.

Most of the following books are readily available both online and at your local bookstore. In addition, the Center has several of these books in stock (see resources ). More books will be added periodically as they come out.

Whose Vote Counts? Robert Richie and Steven Hill

In an argument made all the more pertinent in the wake of the 2000 election crisis, the authors propose making election outcomes represent all Americans through proportional representation.Winner-take-all elections are used in the vast majority of American elections,
leaving those who voted for losing candidates without representation in government, and too often disillusioned with politics. The Center for Voting and Democracy's Rob Richie and Steven Hill argue that we need a new way of electing our representatives to combat voter apathy and the leveling of political views. Leading activists and scholars, including Cynthia McKinney, John Ferejohn, and Daniel Cantor, respond. Harvard law professor writes the foreword. The book originally appeared as Reflecting All of Us in 1999. From Beacon Press(2001)

Bushmanders & Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Date to Win Elections.
Mark S. Monmonier

An excellent resource for reformers in this redistricting season. This well-reviewed book includes a chapter advocating proportional representation as the best means to represent our diversity. In addition it explains how computers (once thought to be the tool to eliminating gerrymanders) have wound up crafting them, the complicated relationship between race and representation, how the forms of political maps can function as distractions and hindrances to understanding their content, and alternative models of representation drawn from examples in Ohio, Massachusetts, and much of contemporary Europe. From University of Chicago Press (2001)

Challenges to Equality: Poverty and Race in America. Chester Hartman (editor)

This timely work provides multiple perspectives on many important current social issues -- integration and civil rights; President Clinton's race initiative; poverty; education; the environment; democratic participation; disability rights; corporate welfare; and others. The contributors includes such well-known public and academic figures as Julian Bond, Herbert Gans, James Loewen, Jonathan Kozol, Manning Marable, Howard Zinn, Benjamin DeMott, Frances Fox Piven, and Marian Wright Edelman. It contains a chapter on proportional representation by Douglas Amy, Fred McBride and Rob Richie. From M.E. Sharpe

Fair and Effective Representation.
Mark E. Rush and Richard L. Engstrom

Two experts on political representation, voting rights, and the election process debate representation and minority rights, one the most pertinent issues of electoral reform. Mark E. Rush and Richard L. Engstrom, both of whom have headed the Section on Representation and Electoral Systems of the American Political Science Association, discuss the promises and pitfalls of converting from the traditional single-member district to some form of proportional representation. The authors also examine the shortcomings of the existing methods of elections (such as gerrymandering, low turnout, voter apathy, and underrepresentation of minorities and women) and investigate the extent to which proportional representation adheres to the Founders' vision of representation. With an introduction by political scientist Bruce E. Cain. From Rowman & Littlefield (2001)

Elections in Australia, Ireland and Malta Under the Single Transferable Vote: Reflections on an Embedded Institution.   Shaun Bowler and Bernard Grofman (editors)   

The single transferable vote (STV), termed choice voting by many American electoral reformers, has typically been the preferred proportional representation system in the United States and United Kingdom. Yet relatively little is known about its actual workings. Gathering leading experts on STV from around the world to discuss the examples they know best, this book represents the first systematic cross-national study of STV, with a focus on elections in Australia, Ireland and Malta. Rather than seeing electoral institutions in purely mechanical terms, the collection of essays in this volume shows that the effects of electoral system may be contingent on other factors rather than automatic. From University of Michigan Press (2000)

The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States. Alexander Keyssar

Most Americans take for granted their right to vote, whether they choose to exercise it or not. But the history of suffrage in the U.S. is, in fact, the story of a struggle to achieve this right by successive waves of different classes of voters, defined by differences in such areas as wealth, race, gender, age and citizenship. Historian Alexander Keyssar explores the evolution of suffrage over the course of the nation's history, exploring the conditions under which American democracy has expanded and contracted over the years. From Basic Books (2000)

Elections as Instruments of Democracy. G. Bingham Powell, Jr.

In this book, a leading scholar of comparative politics asks crucial questions about modern democracies. Of the two great visions of democracy--the majoritarian, winner-take-all vision and the proportional  representation, consensus model - which best serves as an instrument of democracy and policy-making? When and why does each vision succeed or fail? G. Bingham Powell examines over 150 elections in twenty democracies over the past quarter century to arrive at important and sometimes surprising conclusions, one of which is that national legislatures elected by proportional representation are more likely to enact policies supported by majorities in the electorate. From Yale University Press (2000)

A Right to Representation: Proportional Election Systems for the Twenty-first Century Kathleen Barber 

In this book, an outgrowth of her earlier Proportional Representation and Electoral Reform in Ohio, Dr. Barber explores the origins of proportional representation (PR) systems, explains their use and adaptability, and supplies empirical evidence of how they actually worked in practice in five Ohio cities that used the choice voting method of proportional representation in the 1900's. From Ohio State University Press (2000)

Behind the Ballot Box:  A Citizen's Guide to Voting Systems.
 Douglas J. Amy

A comprehensive and objective guide to all voting methods, from variations of winner-take-all elections to variations of proportional representation, with a particular focus on semi-proportional systems, and the plurality/majority voting systems that are currently used in the U.S.  The book includes a set of  criteria for evaluating voting systems, an explanation of the workings of each system, and a discussion of their various political advantages and disadvantages. From Praeger Publishing  (2000)

The U.S. House of Representatives: Reform or Rebuild? Joseph F. Zimmerman and Wilma Rule (editors)

The unrepresentativeness of the U.S. House of Representatives--in terms of ethnicity, gender, race, and socio--economic status--and its nearly closed system for election have generated questions about the legitimacy and authority of the House as an institution which "represents" citizens and whether House membership should mirror directly the diverse population of the nation. This essay collection examines the causes of the unrepresentative character of the House and offers recommendations to make it a more representative deliberative body. The single-member district system is examined as a major causal factor of the unrepresentativeness, and alternative electoral systems--single-transferable vote types of proportional representation, cumulative voting, and limited voting--are explored. From Praeger Press (2000)

Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. Arend Lijphart

This updated and expanded edition of the highly acclaimed book Democracies offers an even broader, more thorough analysis of today`s democracies. Encompassing thirty-six democracies around the world, the book compares cabinets, legislatures, parties, election systems, supreme courts, interest groups, and central banks to arrive at important-and unexpected-findings about what type of democracy works best. A former president of the American Political Science Association and considered by many to be the world's leading authority on comparative electoral systems, Lijphart has "an amazing grasp of the relevant literature [and has] compiled an unmatched collection of data," according to Yale University's Robert Dahl. From Yale University Press (1999)

Making Every Vote Count: Reassessing Canada's Electoral System. Henry Milner (editor)

Among the political institutions inherited from Canada's British past is the winner-take-all, single-member districtd system by which people are elected to office. This electoral system, used by only a small minority of stable democracies, is  now on the defensive even in countries with historical connections to Britain - starting with Britain itself, which has adopted proportional representation for several regional election and is debating reform of elections to the House of Commons. In 1993 New Zealand went all the way and adopted the German form of proportional representation. Now debate about PR is increasing in Canada, and this book brings the a range of up-to-date analyses on the Canadian situation both from at home and abroad. It includes a chapter on reform in the United States by CVD's Rob Richie and Steven Hill. From Broadview Press (1999)

Lift Every Voice, Turning A Civil Rights Setback Into A New Vision Of Social Justice. Lani Guinier

Harvard law professor Lani Guinier prescribes solutions through bringing more people into the political process, rethinking the way we elect people to some four major political institutions, and rethinking how, when and why we talk about race. The book includes an excellent chapter on the case for proportional representation voting methods. Th e book also provides a gripping account of her nomination to run the civil rights division of the Department of Justice and her ultimate "dis-appointment." From Simon & Schuster (1998)

The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty. K.C. Cole

Mathematics, Cole explains, enables us to "translate the complexity of the world into manageable patterns," whether we're trying to comprehend the risks of smoking or the usefulness of DNA matches in criminal investigations. Cole also looks at how mathematical principles apply in unexpected fields. One chapter, for example, vindicates the theories on voting rights and proportional representation that cost Lani Guinier her Justice Department nomination in 1993. From Harcourt and Brace (1998)

The International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design.Andrew Reynolds and Ben Reilly

The first publication in the International IDEA
Handbook Series is an easy-to-use guide describing the world of electoral systems and what factors to consider when modifying or designing an electoral system. Created for policy-makers, politicians and election administrators it is also an excellent tool for students. The handbook gives practical information explaining why certain countries choose different systems, and how other countries have modified inherited systems. It describes which electoral systems have proven advantageous for specific cultural, social and economic conditions, and how electoral systems can increase participation, reach out to minorities and help instill faith in a sceptical electorate. It includes a range of helpful graphics and sample ballots. From Broderna Carlssons Boktryckeri AB (1997)

Electoral Laws and the Survival of Presidential Democracies. Mark P. Jones

The success of the current third wave of democracy is interlinked with the performance and survival of the world's democratic presidential systems. Author Mark Jones' goal is to make the relationship between specific electoral laws and the survival of presidential democracy completely transparent.These laws are hence vital to the success and (in many cases) the survival of presidential democracies throughout the world. Jones concludes that presidential systems provide a viable form of democratic government, and therefore a realistic democratic alternatives to a parliamentary system, is one, therefore, that must be given thoughtful consideration. Among his suggestions are that presidential democracies use modest levels of proportional representation. From University of Notre Dame Press (1997)

Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual : How to Rebuild Our Country So the Politics Aren't Broken and Politicians Aren't Fixed. Sam Smith

"Neither right nor left but ahead" is the political course for very independent journalist (editor, Progressive Review ) and founding CVD advisory board member Sam Smith in this entertaining, myth-busting guide to a new American crossover politics. This primer gives hope that the coughing engines and stripped gears of American democracy can be made to work again if we can recover our can-do spirit and practice a politics of common sense and common decency combined with a search for common ground. The book includes an excellent chapter on proportional representation and instant runoff voting, told in his typical style conjoining hilarity and wisdom, education and provocation.  From W.W. Norton. (1997)

The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy. Lani Guinier

Guinier's footnote-laden essays, originally published in legal and academic journals, raise challenging questions about American elections. The Voting Rights Act, she argues, has been more successful in achieving the election of black officials than in altering the conditions of their constituents. She cogently suggests that winner-take-all voting systems that consistently exclude minorities are undemocratic. Instead, she advocates cumulative voting, which is used in many corporate elections and a growing number of local elections in the Unitd States. From Free Pr ess (1994)

Recharging the American Experiment: Principled Pluralism for Genuine Civic Community. James W. Skillen

James W. Skillen, executive director of the Center for Public Justice, calls for united political and social action on the part of Christian and secular conservatives. As part of a broader agenda for reform he advocates making electoral politics truly representative in an excellent chapter on proportional representation. From Baker Books (1994)

Real Choices/New Voices: The Case for Proportional Representation Elections in the United States.
 Douglas J. Amy 

The definitive book on the subject of proportional representation (PR) in the United States. Chapters explain how PR would ensure fair representation for all voters, eradicate gerrymandering, encourage issue-oriented campaigns, break the two-party monopoly, insure fairer representation for women and minorities, and encourage higher voter turnout. From Columbia University Press

United States Electoral Systems: Their Impact on Women and Minorities . Wilma Rule and Joseph F. Zimmerman (editors)

This comprehensive collection examines how different electoral systems impact the election of women and minorities to public office in the United States. Rule and Zimmerman have brought together leading scholars to show how different systems affect local, state, and national elections. Important demographic changes, new opportunities, and formidable problems are underscored in analyses of the effects of cumulative voting, limited voting, judicial election systems, multimember and single-member district, and reapportionment. This study is unusual in combining an overall analysis of electoral systems and case material with proposals for making government more representative. From Praeger

Seats & Votes: The Effects & Determinants of Electoral Systems. Rein Taagepera and Matthew Soberg Shugart

A comprehensive study of electoral systems that describes the electoral rules of different nations, reviews the current state of knowledge about their effects, and offers guidelines for designing new systems. From Yale University Press