What you need to know about voting and why

Kim Wehle

Book - 2020

"Want to change the world? The first step is to exercise your right to vote! In this step by step guide, you can learn everything you need to know. In What You Need to Know About Voting-and Why, law professor and constitutional scholar Kimberly Wehle offers practical, useful advice on the mechanics of voting and an enlightening survey of its history and future. What is a primary? How does the electoral college work? Who gets to cast a ballot and why? How do mail-in ballots work? How do I re...gister? For new voters, would-be voters, young people and all of us looking ahead to the next election, What You Need to Know About Voting-and Why is a timely and informative guide, providing the background you need in order to make informed choices that will shape our shared destiny for decades to come."--Publisher's website

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New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2020]
First edition
Physical Description
325 pages : illustrations, map ; 21 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages [303]-318) and index.
Main Author
Kim Wehle (author)
  • Part I : Voting state-by-state: what you need to know now
  • The two-step "recipe" for voting
  • Moving out of state, missed an election cycle, or off to college? An "ingredient" list for staying registered
  • The latest on ballot confusion and voting machine clunkery
  • Part II: Voting is not a constitutional right (it all depends)
  • What does the "right" to vote even mean?
  • Who gets to vote legally in America
  • Key ingredients to electing a president (and what's the electoral college, anyway?)
  • Key ingredients to electing people to congress
  • Part III: Why your right to vote is in danger today
  • How dug in are politicians? Gerrymandering and limitless terms for Congress
  • Does your vote even matter? Senate malapportionment and winner-takes-all vote counting
  • Money in politics
  • Voter suppression and voter fraud: myths or realities?
  • Voter misinformation: a primer on foreign interference in US presidential elections.
  • Appendix: State-by-state registration requirements
  • State-by state voter identification requirements.
Review by Booklist Review

Law professor and CBS News legal expert Wehle offers a comprehensive primer on voting in the U.S. Drawing on her constitutional expertise, Wehle walks readers through the basics of how voting works state to state, and which articles and amendments in the Constitution relate to voting. She approaches the topic in three parts: what voters need to know about voting, federal elections and the electoral college, and why the right to vote for many citizens is under threat. Throughout her approachable and informative chapters, Wehle emphasizes the importance of voting and challenges the idea that a single person's vote does not matter. Each chapter ends with discussion questions to provoke a deeper understanding of the issues addressed. A thorough appendix allows readers to look up voting policies and how to run for office, state by state. What You Need to Know About Voting and Why is a clearly written resource for voters across the political spectrum, and is especially useful as we approach the 2020 presidential election.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A thorough examination of the specifics of voting in the U.S. Constitutional scholar and law professor Wehle has designed this book as a guide for those seeking greater insight into a variety of related topics, including the slippery concept of the right to vote, the background basics of voting, and the structural barriers to voting. Though the writing is clear and conversational, there is a serious aura about the proceedings. She introduces readers to what she calls the "Voter Two-Step"--first register, then vote. This is not as simple as it sounds, as each state has its own stipulations; furthermore, the Constitution has no express provision conferring the right to vote. State legislatures administer federal, state, and local elections, so Wehle offers state-by-state breakdowns of specific requirements; early, provisional, and absentee voting; and the rights of those with disabilities. She then explores one of the most controversial elements of our political process, the Electoral College--"If this sounds to you like an insider's game, you're right. If this sounds bizarrely anti-democratic, you're right again"--before moving on to gerrymandering ("politics-driven…congressional districts"); term limits; voter fraud and its cousin, voter suppression; the dicey role of money in politics; and the troubling role played by the Supreme Court regarding campaign finance laws. Though Wehle can--and has reason to--get cynical at times, she cogently lays out what readers need to know, all with an eye on an important question: "Who…is in charge of our democracy? If it's not 'We the People,' who is it?" In the face of depressing news and statistics about voter turnout, tampering, and other issues, "the answer isn't despair or complacency," she writes. "The answer is to vote." An appendix lists state-by-state registration and identification requirements, among other useful information. A probing and limpid explanation of an often misunderstood patchwork of systems, requirements, and mechanisms. (illustrations) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.