Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny

by Ali Meyer // Published August 3, 2009

Theresa Amato is perhaps best known as campaign manager for Ralph Nader's 2000 and 2004 presidential runs. She has recently written a book which, through highly detailed accounts of the intricacies of getting a third-party candidate on the ballot in states across the country, provides coherent suggestions for systemic reform to our election systems.

Indeed, the most valuable part of Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny may be its substantial concluding section in which Amato offers specific steps to substantive reform. Many of these will be familiar to FairVote supporters, but she manages to provide a very compelling and pragmatic case for the realization of these goals. These tangible reforms range from an affirmative right to vote, to voting rights for ex-felons, to the abolition of the Electoral College. Her suggestions in this section are plausible, practical, and detailed, so that potential implementation seems just around the corner.

Amato's section about the nine Supreme Court cases that need to be overturned is also interesting, and it exemplifies the research and creativity she invested in the book. She also has a plethora of statistics about every possible facet of election law; she has done her research, and it shows.

A few of the notable reforms Amato advocates include:

1. Elimination the Electoral College. She argues that this is important because a true democracy provides more than two candidates or parties for any election, and she sees the Electoral College as the major obstacle preventing us from achieving a more legitimate democracy. (See more about FairVote's position on the Electoral College here. We're not for it.)

2. Federalization of Federal Elections. This is necessary, she writes, in order to make the elections more uniform. She asserts that states have proven too inept and prone to corruption, and people themselves are mobile and not bound by mere geography. FairVote's solution is similar; we suggest implementing federal standards for elections, even as states hold their own elections.

3. Proportional Representation and Instant Runoff Voting. At both the state and federal levels, Amato encourages these methods of voting, as they allow for greater fairness and greater representation, she contends. FairVote heartily agrees

Amato's book is rife with potential means to improving our elections; these are just three notable examples that she suggests. Grand Illusion, though also a heavily detailed account of real-life campaign experience, serves as a valuable tool in the fight for electoral reform. Like-minded readers will certainly find themselves better-informed in matters of electoral reform laws and the struggle faced by third parties in America.