Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

Well-written book documenting the rise and fall of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The book itself is semi-chronological, though it does jump back as necessary to frame the story.

The history that it covers is worth understanding and for that reason I’d recommend it to almost anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the tug-of-war around equal access to voting. It’s hard not to have a visceral reaction to the attempts at dismantling voting rights. The contemporary chapters at the end are especially upsetting since it’s clear how little has really changed.

The post-Shelby voting rights landscape most closely resembled the period before 1965, which the VRA was meant to end, when the blight of voting discrimination could only be challenged on a torturous case-by-case basis. The loss of Section 5, combined with an often hostile judiciary, created perpetual uncertainty when it came to protecting voting rights. Roberts’s long-held view that violations of the VRA “should not be made too easy to prove” was finally being put into practice.

I probably retained about 10% of the information (optimistically) – there’s a lot to learn from this book! This is definitely one I’d consider revisiting or referencing in the future.

Book cover for Give Us the Ballot
Give Us the Ballot
The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
Ari Berman