Rethinking American Electoral Democracy: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rethinking American Electoral Democracy

2nd Edition

By Matthew J. Streb

© 2011 – Routledge

242 pages

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Paperback: 9780415882026
pub: 2011-01-24
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pub: 2011-01-24
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While frustration with various aspects of American democracy abound in the United States, there is little agreement over—or even understanding of—what kinds of changes would make the system more effective and increase political participation. Matthew J. Streb sheds much needed light on all the major concerns of the electoral process in this timely book on improving American electoral democracy.

This critical examination of the rules and institutional arrangements that shape the American electoral process analyzes the major debates that embroil scholars and reformers on subjects ranging from the number of elections we hold and the use of nonpartisan elections, to the presidential nominating process and campaign finance laws. Ultimately, Streb argues for a less burdensome democracy, a democracy in which citizens can participate more easily in transparent, competitive elections.

This book is designed to get students of elections and American political institutions to think critically about what it means to be democratic and how democratic the United States really is.

Part of the Controversies in Electoral Democracy and Representation series, edited by Matthew J. Streb.


"Matthew Streb is one of the leading scholars on electoral politics, and his updated and revised edition of Rethinking American Electoral Democracy is excellent. Streb takes on many of the components of our democratic system and convincingly argues that they are not always for the best. Most of all, the book directly engages readers on many important and contemporary topics and will no doubt cause readers to think in ways they haven't considered about American democracy. In this revised edition, Streb once again make a big splash that will get people talking and debating democracy in America."

Matt A. Barreto, University of Washington

"Matthew Streb offers an accessible and thought-provoking volume that challenges the reader to think beyond the parameters of what is presented through most media outlets. Streb reminds us that what we know (or think we know) about voting behavior is necessarily contextualized by the institutional elements within which such decision making exists. He drills down to the very core of democratic theory with relevant examples and helpful anecdotes to demonstrate the importance (and urgency) of understanding elections in a more sophisticated way."

Stephen M. Caliendo, North Central College

"Rethinking American Electoral Democracy is a terrific book. It offers a remarkably thorough assessment of the structural challenges facing the U.S. electoral system. Streb’s questions are provocative and his answers can be surprising. The analysis is scholarly, but undergraduate students will appreciate the writing style along with the author’s amusing personal stories about the problems he analyzes."

David Jones, James Madison University

"In this era of intensified partisanship, voter anger, and grass roots activism such as the so-called Tea Party movement, students need an intelligent primer on the challenges of maintaining the world’s most stable democracy. As this clearly written and engaging volume demonstrates, not all is well with the American democratic system. Streb provides the fundamentals that students need to know, but he also offers challenges to some of their widely held beliefs about our system and ideas on how to improve it."

Mark Rozell, George Mason University

Table of Contents

1. Creating a model electoral democracy 2. Factors that influence voter turnout 3. The offices we elect 4. Direct democracy 5. Ballot laws 6. Voting machines 7. The redistricting process 8. Presidential primaries 9.The Electoral College 10. Campaign finance 11. Conclusion: Moving toward a model electoral democracy

About the Author

Matthew J. Streb is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University. His books include The New Electoral Politics of Race (University of Alabama); Academic Freedom at the Dawn of a New Century (Stanford University); Running for Judge (NYU); Law and Election Politics: The Rules of the Game (Lynne Rienner); and Polls and Politics: The Dilemmas of Democracy (SUNY).

About the Series

Controversies in Electoral Democracy and Representation

The Routledge series Controversies in Electoral Democracy and Representation presents cutting edge scholarship and innovative thinking on a broad range of issues relating to democratic practice and theory. An electoral democracy, to be effective, must show a strong relationship between representation and a fair open election process. Designed to foster debate and challenge assumptions about how elections and democratic representation should work, titles in the series present a strong but fair argument on topics related to elections and the institutions shaping them, voting behavior, party and media involvement, representation, and democratic theory.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections