Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Oxford Handbook Of American Political Development


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.


voting rights, suffrage, political parties, public policy, collective action, representation, election law, American exceptionalism, race, gender

Published By

Oxford University Press


Richard Valelly, S. Mettler, And R. Lieberman


This material was originally published in The Oxford Handbook of American Political Development edited by Richard Valelly, Suzanne Mettler, and Robert Lieberman, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

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