How American elections are increasingly vulnerable—and what must be done to protect them
Until recently, most Americans could assume that elections, at all levels of government, were reasonably clean and well managed—most of the time. Yes, there were exceptions: some states and localities were notorious for occasional election-rigging, losers often complained that winners somehow had unfair advantages, and money increasingly distorted the electoral process. But even when voters did not like the results, the overall system of elections did not seem nearly as corrupt or warped as in many other countries.
That positive view of American politics now seems outdated, even naïve.
This new book by Elaine Kamarck and Darrell West shows how American elections have been compromised by what used to be called “dirty tricks” and how those tricks are becoming even more complex and dangerous the deeper we get into the digital age. It shows how old-fashioned vote-rigging at polling stations has been overtaken by much more sophisticated system-wide campaigns, from Russia’s massive campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election through social media to influence campaigns yet to come.
Dirty Tricks in the Digital Age looks not just at the past but also toward the future, examining how American elections can be protected from abuse, both domestic and foreign. State governments have primary responsibility for elections in the United States, but the federal government also must play a major role in shaping the system for how Americans cast their votes.
The book explores what political leaders are doing and must do to protect elections—and how they can overcome the current toxic political climate to do so. It outlines five concrete steps that state and federal leaders must take to secure the future of American democracy.
Dirty Tricks in the Digital Age is a valuable resource for scholars, students, journalists, politicians, and voters—indeed, anyone interested in securing the most basic element of democracy.