DUPLICATE How Suffrage Politics Made, And Makes, America

Richard M. Valelly , '75, Swarthmore College


Most Americans believe that the franchise has steadily and gradually expanded since the Founding. In fact “suffrage politics” has been far more complex and disjointed. This contribution develops a party-centered approach that identifies several types of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement, as well as suffrage regimes–that is, bundles of institutions and election law that are meant to buttress allocations of voting rights. This party-centered approach allows one to grasp that America’s struggles over the right to vote are, in cross-national perspective, not just unusual but highly unusual, and have been a central force in American political development.