Elections are at the very foundation of our democracy, but voter turnout in the last presidential election was only about 57 percent. It’s easy to be nostalgic for the Gilded Age era of 80 percent voter turnout… until you consider all the people who weren’t eligible to vote back then. Then again, for more than a century, one class of people who don’t vote today were allowed to vote: non-US citizens.
On this special Election Day episode of BackStory, the History Guys put current voting trends in historical perspective. They also consider the changing mechanisms of voting, and look at the how for much of American history, the electoral college system maintained racial hierarchies in the South. And, as always, they field calls from listeners interested in exploring the history of voting in America.