Richard M. Valelly

Claude C. Smith '14 Professor of Political Science, Swarthmore College

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About Richard

Valelly’s expertise lies in the history, politics, policy, and law of African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and Native-American voting rights. He also works on the pro-LGBT rights initiatives of the Obama Administration. Valelly often writes for general interest publications on discoveries and debates in political science concerning key aspects of American politics, including such topics as voter turnout, income inequality, and the nature of presidential power.


Will the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Survive?

In the News

"How about Erecting Monuments to the Heroes of Reconstruction?," Richard M. Valelly, The American Prospect, August 23, 2017.
"Is the Voting Rights Act Dead?," Richard M. Valelly, Washington Monthly, July 2, 2013.
Guest to discuss what socialism actually means and the current American political landscape on WHYY's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, Richard M. Valelly, October 24, 2008.


American Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
Identifies strengths and weaknesses of American democracy.
"LGBT Politics and American Political Development" Annual Review of Political Science (June 2012).
Demonstrates that the actual evolution of LGBT politics is not fully understood even though it is currently a major civil rights struggle.
"What Political Scientists Can Teach Us about Income Inequality" The Chronicle of Higher Education (2008).
Shows why political scientists believe – and why they are correct in believing -- that income inequality has significant political origins.
The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (University of Chicago Press, 2004).
Demonstrates that there have been two similar reconstructions of black voting rights and explains why the 20th century process proved more successful than the 19th century process. Essential for understanding the stakes of the current stresses on the Voting Rights Act.
"An Overlooked Theory on Presidential Politics" The Chronicle of Higher Education (2003).
Demonstrates that qualitative historical analysis of presidential politics is powerfully predictive.