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The Way We Vote
The Local Dimension of American Suffrage

Author(s): Alec C. Ewald

To a degree unique among democracies, the United States has always placed responsibility for running national elections in the hands of county, city, and town officials. The Way We Vote explores the causes and consequences of America's localized voting system, explaining its historical development and its impact on American popular sovereignty and democratic equality.

The book shows that local electoral variation has endured through dramatic changes in American political and constitutional structure, and that such variation is the product of a clear, repeated developmental pattern, not simple neglect or public ignorance. Legal materials, statutes and Congressional debates, state constitutional-convention proceedings, and the records of contested Congressional elections illuminate a long record of federal and state intervention in American electoral mechanics. Lawmakers have always understood that a certain level of disorder characterizes U.S. national elections, and have responded by exercising their authority over suffrage practices--but only in limited ways, effectively helping to construct our triply-governed electoral system.

Biography of Author(s)

Alec C. Ewald is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont.


  • A must read for students of American elections and election law.
    --Rick Hasen, Loyola Law School, author of The Supreme Court and Election Law
  • Ewald has created a tool for all of us to more fully understand our civic duties.
  • ""The Way We Vote is valuable both in its effort to use American suffrage as a case for the expansion of the denotation of political development, and for its provision of a concise history of voting in the United States. It offers a variety of audiences, from political development scholars, to political science students, to curious voters, a concise, well-argued, and highly readable text. It is a solid addition to the existing literature on voting in America."
    --The Political Science Quarterly
  • important work in the field of elections.
  • His book is an impressive piece of scholarship, worthy of attention from specialists interested in elections administration and US electoral history. Highly recommended.
  • Historians must draw upon his comprehensive synthesis of various literatures and debates.
    --Brian K. Pinaire, Lehigh