Boston Book Festival 2020 Boston Book Festival 2020

American Elections: Is This the Best We Can Do?

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David Daley

David Daley is a journalist and one of the nation’s leading experts on partisan gerrymandering. His work has been featured in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and many other publications. His first book, Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count, an exposé about redistricting, received numerous positive reviews. His latest book, Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy, follows Ratf**ked, charting activist movements to combat redistricting and provides a blueprint to revive American democracy. Amanda Litman says, “David Daley's work has fired up a generation of activists who are fighting to un-fuck it all up before time runs out. He is a must-read writer for this critical moment.”

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Katherine M. Gehl
The Politics Industry

Katherine M. Gehl is a business leader, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. She is the founder of the Institute for Political Innovation and the CEO of Venn Innovations, focused on new thinking about intractable problems. Gehl was formerly president and CEO of Gehl Foods, a $250 million high-tech food manufacturer. In 2010, she was nominated by President Barack Obama and, in 2011, confirmed by the US Senate to serve on the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Her latest book is The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy.

Alexander Keyssar
Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?

Alexander Keyssar is an award-winning historian and professor of history and social policy at Harvard University. He’s published several books and anthologies, including The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the LA Times Book Award. His latest book, Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?, digs into the history of the electoral college and provides a profound framework to think about America’s future. Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin proclaims, “This is a dazzling contribution not just to American history but to the American future.”

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Anthony Brooks is a senior political reporter for WBUR and has worked as a producer, editor, reporter, and host in public radio for over thirty years. During the 2000 presidential election, he was one of NPR’s lead political reporters. His reports have been heard for many years on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He also worked as a senior correspondent for InsideOut Documentaries at WBUR. His documentary, “Testing DNA and The Death Penalty-InsideOut,” won the 2002 Robert F. Kennedy Award for best radio feature. He has won many awards for his work including the Edward R. Murrow Regional Broadcasters Award, the AP Broadcasters Award, the Ohio State Award and the Robert L. Kozik Award.

You know by now that we have major problems with our electoral process. The three authors in this session will tell us how we can fix the system. Our democracy sort of depends on whether we succeed, so pay close attention. David Daley wrote Unrigged as a follow-up to his previous bestselling book, Ratf**ked, about partisan gerrymandering. Here, he talks about the ways in which citizens can, against the odds, change laws about gerrymandering, voting roll purges, voting rights for released felons, and more, using tactics that range from taking to the streets to circulating petitions to running for office. In Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? Alex Keyssar investigates the long history of that strange artifact which has handed the presidency to the loser twice in modern times. Why do we still have it? Probably not for the reasons you think. And finally, Katherine Gehl, co-author with Michael Porter of The Politics Industry, puts forth an original analysis of the political parties as duopolies that stifle competition. She has some simple, actionable ideas for reforming electoral politics.  Can we do better? Yes, we can! Anthony Brooks, senior political advisor at WBUR, 90.9 FM, will host this session. Media sponsor for this session is 90.9 WBUR.