Don’t Miss a Thing

Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Search Website

Image: U.S. Embassy in Chile

Reading List October 03, 2020

Voting Is Underway, But Our System Is Broken

BR writers on how we can fix it.

Today marks exactly one month until Americans go to the polls in the 2020 presidential election. But while we were expecting televised debates and (virtual) rallies in key battlegrounds, what happens in the next thirty days is anyone’s guess as Trump announces he has been diagnosed with coronavirus and fears for Joe Biden’s health grow in turn.

As confusion mounts, we are taking a moment to zoom out from the current race and look at the current flaws in our system as a whole—from the problems with the Electoral College and winner-takes-all elections, to the barriers holding back women and third parties. As Archon Fung notes, there are serious issues in our basic framing of elections too. “A problem with our democracy is that the ability to vote is something the political parties are competing over,” he writes. “They should compete over issues and principles and policies, not over who gets to vote and who doesn’t.” Whichever way you look at it, our electoral system is broken. This reading list offers some solutions. 

yochai
Yochai Benkler

The party’s fifty-year strategy has reached an electoral dead end.

trump
Reed Hundt Joshua Cohen

Donald Trump's winning strategy.

White sign with a blue border on a green lawn that says "Vote" in blue capital letters, beneath which is a blue arrow pointing to the right
Justin H. Vassallo

Without pressure from social movements, they won’t produce meaningful and deeply needed reform.

30363515602_53e1e79d08_o
Jan-Werner Müller

Some candidates who lose elections strengthen democracy, but others threaten the democratic system itself.

threeormore
Sam Rosenfeld

Some think it would cure two-party gridlock. But what works in parliamentary governments might not help in our presidential system.

8170272919_1f3d8b5821_o
Reed Hundt

We must institute a method of electing a president that is sensitive to the votes of Americans everywhere.

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 10
Kenneth A. Taylor

The Electoral College once served an urgent political purpose. The time has now come to abolish it.

White-on-vote_feature
Ariel White

Voter ID laws burden minorities, but discrimination starts well before they reach the voting booth.

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Previews are delivered to members every Sunday. Become a member to receive them ahead of the crowd.

Boston Review is nonprofit and reader funded.

Contributions from readers enable us to provide a public space, free and open, for the discussion of ideas. Join this effort – become a supporting reader today.

Sign Up for Our
Newsletter

Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.

Donate Today!


Most Recent

Poetry

But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.

Hannah Craig

The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.

AbdouMaliq Simone

Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.

Eli Friedman