Electoral Dysfunction

A Survival Manual for American Voters

Published to coincide with the nationally broadcast PBS documentary starring Mo Rocca, this eye-opening guide shows why there's something funny about voting in America—and offers an Rx for fixing our electoral dysfunction

“The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote.” —U.S. Supreme Court, 2000

Imagine a country where the right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution, where the candidate with the most votes loses, and where paperwork requirements and bureaucratic bungling disenfranchise millions. You’re living in it. If the consequences weren’t so serious, it would be funny.

An eye-opening, fact-filled companion to the PBS documentary starring political satirist and commentator Mo Rocca, Electoral Dysfunction illuminates a broad array of issues, including the Founding Fathers’ decision to omit the right to vote from the Constitution—and the legal system’s patchwork response to this omission; the battle over voter ID, voter impersonation, and voter fraud; the foul-ups that plague Election Day, from ballot design to contested recounts; the role of partisan officials in running elections; and the antidemocratic origins and impact of the Electoral College. The book concludes with a prescription for a healthy voting system by Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote.

Published in the run-up to the 2012 election, Electoral Dysfunction is for readers across the political spectrum who want their votes to count.


“People are dying to vote—but not in the U.S. where only five in 10 exercise the privilege in presidential elections. What’s standing in the way? Electoral Dysfunction begins the national conversation we need to have.”
—Mark McKinnon, co-founder of No Labels
“Delightfully provocative. . . . A well-organized, important tool that will remain useful beyond the present electoral cycle.”
Kirkus Reviews
“This is a well-written, enlightening look at how, when it comes to access to the ballot box and other voter rights, the world’s second oldest democracy still has a long way to go.”
Publishers Weekly
“Crisply written, irreverent yet engaged. . . . A lively, witty survey of the numerous ailments that afflict the American electoral system.”
—Alexander Keyssar, Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard, author of The Right to Vote

Goodreads Reviews