|1824||47,073||John Q Adams||5,441||11.6||Andrew Jackson||35,736||75.9|
|1828||152,220||Andrew Jackson||101,457||66.7||John Q Adams||50,763||33.3|
|1832||157,679||Andrew Jackson||90,973||57.7||Henry Clay||---------|
|1836||178,701||Martin Van Buren||91,466||51.2||William Harrison||87,235||48.8|
|1840||287,695||William Harrison||144,023||50.1||Martin VaN Buren||143,672||49.9|
|1844||331,645||James Polk||167,311||50.4||Henry Clay||161,195||48.6|
|1848||369,092||Zachary Taylor||185,730||50.3||Lewis Cass||172,186||46.7|
|1852||387,920||Frankilin Pierce||198,568||51.2||Winfield Scott||179,182||46.2|
|1856||460,937||James Buchann||230,772||50.1||John Fremont||147,963||32.1|
|1860||476,442||Abraham Lincoln||268,030||56.3||Stephen Douglas||16,765||3.5|
|1864||573,735||Abraham Lincoln||296,292||51.6||George McClelan||277,443||48.4|
|1868||655,662||Ulysses Grant||342,280||52.2||Horatio Seymour||313,382||47.8|
|1872||561,629||Ulysses Grant||349,589||62.2||Horace Greeley||212,040||37.8|
|1876||758,973||Rutherford Hayes||384,157||50.6||Samuel Tilden||366,204||48.2|
|1880||874,783||James Garfield||444,704||50.8||Winfield Scott||407,428||46.6|
|1884||899,710||Grover Cleveland||394,772||43.9||James Blaine||472,792||52.5|
|1888||997,568||Benjamin Harrison||526,091||52.7||Grover Cleveland||446,633||44.8|
|1892||1,003,000||Grover Cleveland||452,264||45.1||Benjamin Harrison||516,011||51.4|
|1896||1,194,355||William McKinley||728,300||61||William Bryant||433,228||36.3|
|1900||1,173,210||William McKinley||712,665||60.7||William Bryant||424,232||36.2|
|1904||1,236,738||Theo. Roosevelt||840,949||68||Alton Parker||337,998||27.3|
|1908||1,267,450||William Taft||745,779||58.8||William Bryant||448,782||35.4|
|1912||1,217,736||Woodrow Wilson||395,637||32.5||Theo. Roosevelt||444,894||36.5|
|1916||1,297,189||Woodrow Wilson||521,784||40.2||Charles Hughes||703,823||54.3|
|1920||1,851,248||Warren Harding||1,218,215||65.8||James Cox||503,202||27.2|
|1924||2,144,850||Calvin Coolidge||1,401,481||65.3||John Davis||409,192||19.1|
|1928||3,150,612||Herbert Hoover||2,055,382||65.2||Alfred Smith||1,067,586||33.9|
|1932||3,150,612||Franklin Roosevelt||2,055,382||65.2||Herbert Hoover||1,067,586||33.9|
|1936||4,138,105||Franklin Roosevelt||2,353,788||56.9||Alfred Landon||1,690,300||40.8|
|1940||4,078,714||Franklin Roosevelt||2,171,035||53.2||Wendell Will||1,889,848||46.3|
|1944||3,794,793||Franklin Roosevelt||1,940,479||51.1||Thomas Dewey||1,835,054||48.4|
|1948||3,735,348||Harry Truman||1,752,426||46.9||Thomas Dewey||1,902,197||50.9|
|1952||4,580,969||Dwight Eisenhower||2,415,789||52.7||Adlai Stevenson||2,146,269||46.9|
|1956||4,576,503||Dwight Eisenhower||2,585,252||56.5||Adlai Stevenson||1,981,769||43.3|
|1960||5,006,541||John F Kennedy||2,556,282||51.1||Richard Nixon||2,439,956||48.7|
|1964||4,822,690||Lyndon Johnson||3,130,954||64.9||Barry Goldwater||1,673,657||34.7|
|1968||4,747,928||Richard Nixon||2,090,017||44||Hubert Humphrey||2,259,405||47.6|
|1972||4,592,106||Richard Nixon||2,714,521||59.1||George McGovern||1,796,951||39.1|
|1976||4,620,787||Jimmy Carter||2,328,677||50.4||Gerald Ford||2,205,604||47.7|
|1980||4,561,501||Ronald Reagan||2,261,872||49.6||Jimmy Carter||1,937,540||42.5|
|1984||4,844,903||Ronald Reagan||2,584,323||53.3||Walter Mondale||2,228,131||46|
|1988||4,536,251||George Bush||2,300,087||50.7||Michael Dukais||2,194,944||48.4|
|1992||4,959,810||Bill Clinton||2,239,164||45.1||George Bush||1,791,841||36.1|
|1996||4,429,891||William Clint||2,206,241||49.8||Bob Dole||1,793,568||40.49%|
|2000||4,913,119||George W Bush||2,281,127||46.4||Al Gore||720,342||47|
|2004||5,769,590||George W Bush||2,793,847||48.4||John Kerry||2,938,095||50.9|
|2008||5,995,137||Barack Obama||3,276,363||54.7%||John McCain||2,655,885||44.3%|
Pennsyvania Voting History - History
In the days since President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, he has relentlessly and falsely attacked the result in Pennsylvania and other battleground states as the product of widespread fraud. His assaults culminated last week in a 46-minute videotaped screed full of demonstrable falsehoods.
Politicians routinely exaggerate or misrepresent the facts, but never before has an American president refused as Trump has to accept the unambiguous result of a free and fair election.
Representatives from the Trump campaign have spouted fiery rhetoric about electoral fraud on a grand scale. But in courts of law, where proof is required and where there are penalties for lying, they haven&rsquot provided evidence or alleged that even one vote in Pennsylvania was deliberately cast illegally. Rather, their legal efforts have been aimed at disqualifying votes that all evidence shows were legitimately cast under rules they disagree with.
As Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, said in dismissing one campaign challenge last month: "Calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here."
Below, we&rsquove gathered and debunked some of the most prominent false claims about Pennsylvania&rsquos presidential election leveled in recent weeks by Trump and his allies.
"They are finding Biden votes all over the place &mdash in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!" Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 4, 2020
Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 4, 2020
On election night, Trump appeared to have a strong "lead" in Pennsylvania, and he expressed confidence he would win the state. He even wrongly "claimed" Pennsylvania&rsquos Electoral College votes in a tweet before the race had been decided. But in the days ahead, as more mail ballots were processed and counted, Joe Biden pulled ahead and ultimately won the state by 81,000 votes, or about 1%.
The slow counting of mail ballots, and the way it eroded Trump&rsquos early advantage, was the direct and expected result of Pennsylvania&rsquos election rules &mdash not fraud.
The counting process took longer than in other states because elections officials were prohibited from starting their work before Election Day.
Most of the votes counted that day were cast in person, and two-thirds of them were for Trump. That&rsquos in part because Trump spent months falsely attacking mail voting as susceptible to widespread fraud, which discouraged his supporters from using the method. Biden and Democrats encouraged their supporters to vote by mail, and in the end, Biden won more than three-quarters of Pennsylvania&rsquos mail ballots.
In-person votes are counted more quickly than mail ballots. So Trump&rsquos early "lead" meant nothing other than that most votes for him were counted earlier than votes for Biden. That change in vote margins as mail ballots are counted is a phenomenon known as "the blue shift."
"They didn&rsquot even allow Republican observers into the building to watch." Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 18, 2020
Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 18, 2020
One of Trump&rsquos most frequent complaints is that Republicans weren&rsquot allowed to watch Pennsylvania&rsquos largest cities count votes. Trump has said observers were barred from even entering the facilities where votes were being counted.
That&rsquos not true. And in every county where Republicans raised objections, courts found that officials applied the observation rules evenly to both parties.
Trump has directed much of his ire at Philadelphia, where at one point his legal team sought an emergency order to stop the count. But under sharp questioning from a federal judge, Trump&rsquos lawyers conceded that "a nonzero number" of the president&rsquos supporters had been allowed to watch.
"I&rsquom sorry, then what&rsquos your problem?" U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond asked, sounding exasperated.
Trump&rsquos team also complained that its observers were too far away. Initially, observers from both political parties were 30 feet away from the count. The city later allowed them to be as close as six feet away &mdash the best it said it could offer given the need for coronavirus precautions.
In the end, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that state law only requires partisan monitors to have access to the room where votes are being counted. It does not grant them the right to hover over the workers conducting the count.
Says more than one million Pennsylvania mail ballots were "created out of thin air." Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 28, 2020
Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 28, 2020
A week ago, Trump tweeted that more than a million Pennsylvania mail ballots had been "created" and counted improperly.
The false conspiracy theory at the heart of the tweet involves data that State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) said he found on the Pennsylvania Department of State&rsquos website. Mastriano claimed the data showed a 1.1 million-vote gap between the number of mail ballots requested and the number returned.
But the figures referenced in tweets by Trump and Mastriano conflate Pennsylvania&rsquos June primary election and the general election. And contrary to Mastriano&rsquos claim that the data have been deleted, they are still available.
Trump and Mastriano compared the number of mail ballots cast in the June primary election with the number cast in last month&rsquos general election. The two figures have nothing to do with each other, nor are they evidence of fraud.
"Why did Pennsylvania Democrats pre-canvass votes in liberal areas, but not let Republicans do the same?" U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), in a tweet on Nov. 10, 2020
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), in a tweet on Nov. 10, 2020
"Pre-canvassing" refers to the process of preparing mail ballots to be counted, which state law prohibits before Election Day. Republicans have argued that "curing" flawed ballots that arrive with problems such as missing signatures &mdash a separate practice that some Pennsylvania counties performed this year &mdash is also a form of pre-canvassing.
A week after Election Day, one of Trump&rsquos allies in Congress accused Pennsylvania Democrats of doing this, while blocking Republicans from doing the same. But that criticism, lodged by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, is baseless.
All counties were allowed to notify voters of such problems, but not all counties did. That was a choice made by county elections officials, not one imposed by Democrats. Some of the ones that gave voters a chance to fix problems do indeed lean Democratic, but there&rsquos no evidence that those counties treated voters differently based on party affiliation.
A group of Republican candidates and voters filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate any mail ballots that were cured, arguing it wasn&rsquot fair for some voters to get a second chance when others did not. That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by the Commonwealth Court, and other courts have repeatedly shot down the argument that Republicans were disadvantaged by counties&rsquo uneven application of ballot curing.
But some state lawmakers won&rsquot let it go.
In a letter Friday to the state&rsquos congressional delegation, Republicans urged it to dispute the state&rsquos Electoral College votes because they think ballot curing violates Pennsylvania&rsquos prohibition against processing ballots early.
However, the majority of mail-ballot requests &mdash even in conservative counties &mdash came from Democrats, so not curing them would disproportionately affect Democrats.
Gov. Tom Wolf sought to modify the rules and give counties more time to process ballots before Election Day, but Republican state lawmakers blocked that effort. This is why it took days to learn that Biden won Pennsylvania.
"Report: Dominion deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide. Data analysis finds 221,000 Pennsylvania votes switched from President Trump to Biden." Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 12, 2020
Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 12, 2020
Among Trump&rsquos supporters, the word Dominion has become synonymous with fraud.
It started when the president falsely claimed on Twitter that Dominion Voting Systems, one of the most widely used election technology firms in the nation, "deleted" votes for him and "switched" thousands of votes cast in Pennsylvania to Biden.
There is no evidence of this &mdash and Trump won in 12 of the 14 Pennsylvania counties that use the company&rsquos devices.
Hours after Trump sent his tweet, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which oversees election security, released a statement defending the Nov. 3 election as "the most secure in American history."
"There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," the agency said. (Trump later fired its director.)
Dominion released a statement that it "denies claims about any vote switching or alleged software issues with our voting systems," and Ellen Lyon, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said there is "no factual basis" for claims that thousands of Pennsylvania votes were compromised.
"Specific allegations were made, and we have massive proof, in the Pennsylvania case. Some people just don&rsquot want to see it." Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 28, 2020
Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 28, 2020
Trump&rsquos lawyers vowed to present proof of widespread voter fraud when they asked U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann last month to invalidate Pennsylvania&rsquos election results &mdash but they never did.
Brann stressed this point in his withering Nov. 21 opinion dismissing the case.
"One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption," Brann wrote. "Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations un-pled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence."
Brann is a former Pennsylvania Republican Party official and a member of the conservative Federalist Society who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama at the behest of Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican.
When the Trump campaign made its case again before three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the judge who wrote the decision stressed the same deficiency.
"The number of ballots that our Campaign is challenging in the Pennsylvania case is far larger than the 81,000 vote margin. It&rsquos not even close." Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 28, 2020
Trump, in a tweet on Nov. 28, 2020
To overturn the results of Pennsylvania&rsquos presidential election, the Trump campaign would have needed to challenge and successfully invalidate enough ballots to wipe out Biden&rsquos 81,000-vote margin of victory.
The original legal complaint the campaign filed in federal court seeking to invalidate Pennsylvania&rsquos results included no evidence that even a single vote had been cast illegally.
Trump campaign lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani acknowledged this during a Nov. 17 hearing before Brann.
"This is not a fraud case," Giuliani said when Brann asked if he had proof to back up his claims.
The campaign&rsquos amended complaint asserts &mdash without evidence &mdash that statistical analysis would prove some 70,000 mail ballots cast by Biden voters were improperly counted to seal his victory. But the campaign filed that amended complaint too late, and Brann declined to even consider it.
Separately, the Trump campaign has asked courts to throw out nearly 12,000 mail ballots with errors such as missing signatures or incomplete home addresses as well as 10,000 mail ballots that were postmarked by Election Day but arrived up to three days after.
Even if the contested ballots had been invalidated, Biden&rsquos victory would still stand.
At least partially true, although none on the presidential level.
So far in the 2020 election, Pennsylvania officials repeatedly have said there is no evidence of fraud in the state. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania called Trump's allegations "disturbing" and said there was no proof of widespread wrongdoing in his state.
When asked about Pennsylvania's election integrity, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Thursday that there are "very strong" processes in place to "make sure that voter integrity and security are constantly followed by every county in the state."
Facing Gap in Pennsylvania, Trump Camp Tries to Make Voting Harder
Trailing in the polls, President Trump and his campaign are pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress the mail-in vote in the critical state of Pennsylvania.
PHILADELPHIA — President Trump’s campaign in the crucial battleground of Pennsylvania is pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress mail-in votes in the state, moving to stop the processing of absentee votes before Election Day, pushing to limit how late mail-in ballots can be accepted and intimidating Pennsylvanians trying to vote early.
Election officials and Democrats in Pennsylvania say that the Trump effort is now in full swing after a monthslong push by the president’s campaign and Republican allies to undermine faith in the electoral process in a state seen as one of the election’s most pivotal, where Mr. Trump trails Joseph R. Biden Jr. by about six percentage points, according to The Upshot’s polling average.
Mail-in votes in Pennsylvania and other swing states are expected to skew heavily toward Democrats. The state is one of a handful in which, by law, mail-in votes cannot be counted until Election Day, and the Trump campaign has leaned on Republican allies who control the Legislature to prevent state election officials from bending those rules to accommodate a pandemic-driven avalanche of absentee ballots, as many other states have already done.
At the same time, the campaign has pushed litigation to curtail how late mail-in votes can be accepted, as part of a flurry of lawsuits in local, state and federal courts challenging myriad voting rules and procedures. On Wednesday evening, the Supreme Court refused to hear a fast-tracked plea from Pennsylvania Republicans to block a three-day extension of the deadline for receiving absentee ballots. But Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat who is Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, advised counties to segregate ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day, as the issue remains before the court.
The Trump campaign has also dispatched its officials to early voting sites, videotaped voters and even pressed election administrators in the Philadelphia area to stop people from delivering more than one ballot to a drop box.
The Trump campaign’s on-the-ground efforts in Philadelphia have already drawn a rebuke from the state attorney general, who warned that the campaign’s foot soldiers risked being charged with voter intimidation. But the Trump campaign has defied local leaders and is running a similar operation in Delaware County, one of the suburban “collar” counties around Philadelphia that have become increasingly Democratic since the 2016 election.
The campaign’s strategy is backed up by public statements from the president, who barnstormed the state on Monday and repeatedly made false claims about the security of voting in Pennsylvania along with ominous warnings.
“A lot of strange things happening in Philadelphia,” he said during a stop in Allentown. “We’re watching you, Philadelphia. We’re watching at the highest level.”
The president’s comments drew an angry response on Wednesday from Lawrence S. Krasner, the city’s district attorney.
“The Trump administration’s efforts to suppress votes amid a global pandemic fueled by their disregard for human life will not be tolerated in the birthplace of American democracy,” Mr. Krasner said. “Philadelphians from a diversity of political opinions believe strongly in the rule of law, in fair and free elections, and in a democratic system of government. We will not be cowed or ruled by a lawless, power-hungry despot. Some folks learned that the hard way in the 1700s.”
Some residents have been left bewildered by the Trump campaign’s attention this year. During the primary election over the summer, Adam S. Goodman, an insurance lawyer, posted a photo on Instagram in which he proudly held up two mail-in ballots outside a drop box. He soon found that the picture had been included in litigation the Trump campaign filed against the city. The campaign used the photo of Mr. Goodman along with other photos to say that some voters were dropping off more than one ballot at drop boxes.
But Mr. Goodman said his husband was simply standing out of the frame when the picture was taken.
“I find it very concerning that they are taking photos out of context from people’s Instagram pages or posting surveillance photos, and there’s no follow-up to determine if that’s the case,” Mr. Goodman said in an interview. “My husband didn’t want to be in the photo. He was with me, and I took a picture of the ballots.”
He called the campaign’s actions “manufacturing evidence that doesn’t exist, and that’s what concerns me.”
The intensity of the Trump campaign’s efforts in Philadelphia stems in part from the man running its Election Day operations nationwide: Michael Roman, a native Philadelphian who cut his teeth in city politics before running a domestic intelligence-gathering operation for the conservative Koch brothers. Like his boss, Mr. Roman has persistently made public statements undermining confidence in the electoral process.
Mr. Roman did not comment for this article.
In a statement, Thea McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said: “While Democrats have attempted to force rule changes and sow chaos and confusion every step of the way, Republicans have clearly and consistently advocated for stable, understandable rules so that every voter knows how to cast their ballot and can do so with confidence it will count.”
After the June primary, the Republican strategy began in earnest, in a battle that pitted Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, against the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Because of the pandemic, states like Pennsylvania are being flooded with mail-in ballots. Local election administrators and the governor sought to allow early processing of the ballots, known as “pre-canvassing,” but Republicans attached conditions among them, they wanted to do away with drop boxes, impose new signature-matching requirements and allow poll watchers to cross county lines, a step that good-government groups feared would invite intimidation and delays.
The state has a history of aggressive Republican tactics. In one of the more notorious episodes, Republican poll watchers stationed at a polling place at the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 began challenging the identities of large numbers of students waiting in line to vote, who had to get friends to sign affidavits for them.
Democrats were not seeking to actually scan the ballots early, as many other states are doing. Instead, they simply wanted to allow local officials to get a head start by opening envelopes and flattening the ballots, to get them ready for processing.
“This felt like a layup,” Suzanne Almeida, a lawyer for Common Cause in Pennsylvania, said, adding, “county elections officials and county commissioners were very clear about how critical this was to them.”
But the Republican maneuvers mean even those efforts will have to wait until the morning of Election Day.
“Pennsylvania did nothing” to prepare, said Amber McReynolds, chief executive of the National Vote at Home Institute and the former head of Denver’s election system. “The Legislature has completely failed the counties.”
As a result, Ms. Almeida said, “we’re certainly not at a place where we’re going to have results on election night.”
“There’s just no physical way,” she continued. “There’s three million people who have requested a mail-in ballot.”
The campaign also brought an array of legal maneuvers that could disqualify some mail-in ballots. It successfully sued to prevent election officials from accepting ballots that arrive without their inner envelopes, known as secrecy sleeves. A Philadelphia election official warned that the disqualification of such “naked ballots” could lead to the rejection of more than 100,000 ballots statewide. That prompted a huge voter information campaign, including a video of naked celebrities.
Republicans also challenged the installation and use of drop boxes to allow voters to avoid the Postal Service, but that challenge failed in state and federal courts.
Aggressive tactics also continue on the ground. The Trump campaign first sent poll watchers to satellite election offices in Philadelphia where voters were dropping off and filling out mail-in ballots. But those poll watchers were barred by city officials, who said monitoring of election offices fell outside sanctioned poll-watching activities.
Governor Wolf Signs Historic Election Reform Bill Including New Mail-in Voting
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf made voting more convenient and secure by signing Act 77 of 2019, the most significant improvement to Pennsylvania’s elections in more than 80 years. The bipartisan compromise legislation takes effect for the April 2020 primary election and makes Pennsylvania a national leader with voter-friendly election reforms.
The law creates a new option to vote by mail up to 50 days before an election and be placed on a list to permanently receive a ballot application by mail. It also provides more time to register to vote and authorizes a $90 million bond to help counties fund the purchase of new voting systems with a paper trail that strengthens the security of our elections.
“This bill makes voting more convenient and more secure for millions of Pennsylvanians and continues my commitment to modernizing our elections,” said Governor Wolf. “This is the biggest change to our elections in generations and will strengthen our democracy by removing barriers to the voting booth and encouraging more people to vote. I applaud all of the legislators and stakeholders for their work with my administration and their spirit of compromise.”
Increasing the opportunity to vote increases turnout. According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report in 2016, providing more days to register to vote and no-excuse mail-in ballots increased voter participation by more than four percent. That is nearly 250,000 votes in Pennsylvania.
No excuse mail-in voting
The law creates a new option to vote by mail without providing an excuse, which is currently required for voters using absentee ballots. Pennsylvania joins 31 other states and Washington, D.C. with mail-in voting that removes barriers to elections.
50-day mail-in voting period
All voters can request and submit their mail-in or absentee ballot up to 50 days before the election, which is the longest vote-by-mail period in the country.
Permanent mail-in and absentee ballot list
Voters can request to receive applications for mail-in or absentee ballots for all primary, general and special elections held in a given year. Counties will mail applications to voters on the list by the first Monday of each February. Voters who return an application will receive ballots for each election scheduled through the next February. Pennsylvania is the 12th state to provide voters with the automatic option.
15 more days to register to vote
The deadline to register to vote is extended to 15 days from 30 days before an election. Cutting the current deadline by half enables more people to participate in elections. The new more flexible and voter friendly deadlines provide more time to register to vote than 24 other states.
Extends mail-in and absentee submission deadlines
Voters can submit mail-in and absentee ballots until 8:00 p.m. on election day. The current deadline is 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before an election, which is the most restrictive in the country. Pennsylvanians submitted 195,378 absentee ballots in 2018, but 8,162 – more than four percent – missed the deadline and were rejected. The national average is only two percent.
The changes do not impact the November 5, 2019 election.
“The bill modernizes our antiquated voting laws. Now a voter’s kitchen table can become their voting booth, and researching candidates can be done in real time,” said Senator Lisa Boscola. “SB 421 puts the political parties on the run, and gives voters more control. This law will bring polling to the people, and that is closer to a modern democracy: no excuses and no exclusions.”
“The people of Pennsylvania have sent divided government to Harrisburg and, with that, this is what governing looks like,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. “We are thankful for the governor’s willingness to work with us to enact the most historic change in how we cast votes since the election code was enacted in 1937. Compromise has given Pennsylvanians a modernized election code that preserves the integrity of the ballot box and makes it easier for voters to choose the people who represent them.”
“This bill was not written to benefit one party or the other, or any one candidate or single election,” said House Majority Leader Representative Bryan Cutler. “It was developed over a multi-year period with input of people from different backgrounds and regions of Pennsylvania. It serves to preserve the integrity of every election and lift the voice of every voter in the commonwealth.”
The law also authorizes the governor to pursue a $90 million bond to reimburse counties for 60 percent of their actual costs to replace voting systems. The new systems have enhanced security to help guard against hacking and produce an anonymous paper record so voters can verify their ballot is correctly marked when casting it. Paper records also allow officials to conduct the most accurate recounts and audits of election results.
“Voters in Pennsylvania won for this election and elections to come,” said Micah Sims, executive director, Common Cause Pennsylvania. “This package provides the infrastructure of new voting machines to produce secure elections and now we have some good reforms that will create greater engagement and participation.”
“This commitment of $90 million is crucial for counties who are continuing to work to meet requirements to purchase new, voter-verifiable paper trail elections systems by April 2020, and we thank the Administration and General Assembly for their partnership in securing this funding,” said Kathi Cozzone, CCAP president and Chester County commissioner. “Ultimately, the winners are our mutual constituents – both voters and county property taxpayers.”
In April 2018, the Department of State informed counties they must select the new voting systems by the end of 2019 and the new system must be used by voters no later than the April 2020 primary election. At least 52 counties, or 78 percent, have taken official action toward selecting a new voting system. And 46 counties, or 68 percent, plan to use their new voting system in the November 2019 election.
Earlier this year, Governor Wolf launched an option for Pennsylvanians to request absentee ballot requests online for the first time. In his first term, Pennsylvania launched online voter registration, which more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have used since 2015.
Pennsylvania ranks 25th for voter participation with 51 percent of the eligible population voting in the 2018 election.
The Keystone State’s Presidential Election History: Eleven Pennsylvania Electoral Winners Who Lost
Fun fact: As the second state admitted to the Union on December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania has been involved in all 57 U.S. presidential elections since 1788!
The Keystone State has had a strong impact on the outcome of those elections, because it has always been among the most highly populated states, meaning it has always carried a large number of electoral votes. Pennsylvania currently holds 20 electoral votes, but in earlier years when it ranked higher in population in relation to other states, it held as many as 38 (1912-28).
But did you know in 11 of the 57 elections, however, Pennsylvania’s electoral votes did not go to the candidate who ultimately won the high office? In the first instance, the 1796 election, Pennsylvania favored Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson, 1/11, over Federalist John Adams, although Adams won the national election and became president.
Incidentally, also in 1796, an elector from Pennsylvania, Samuel Miles, who had pledged to vote for Adams, cast his vote for Jefferson instead, making Miles one of the first “faithless electors.”
Twenty-eight years later, Pennsylvania rejected Adams’ son, John Quincy, 2/11, in the 1824 election, giving Andrew Jackson all of its 28 electoral votes. Although Jackson received more votes in the national election than Adams, neither candidate received the required supermajority, so the election was decided in the House of Representatives, which chose Adams.
It would be another 60 years before Pennsylvania favored a losing candidate. In the meantime, in 1856, Pennsylvania’s votes went to its native son, Democrat James Buchanan, the only President to this day who hails from Pennsylvania.
In the following election of 1860, however, the state’s votes went to Republican victor Abraham Lincoln. That marked the beginning of Republican voting trend and Pennsylvania followed the nation through the era of Republican domination (1861-1933), voting for the party of Lincoln even in the few instances when the national vote went to a Democrat, such as Grover Cleveland in the elections of 1884 (Pennsylvania favoring losing Republican James G. Blaine, 3/11) and 1892 (Pennsylvania favoring losing Republican Benjamin Harrison, 4/11) and Woodrow Wilson in 1916 (Pennsylvania favoring losing Republican Charles Evans Hughes, 6/11).
For the election of 1912, former president Theodore Roosevelt, 5/11, unyielding after his loss in the Republican primary to incumbent William Howard Taft, formed his own Progressive Party and ran against Taft and Democrat Wilson. In a rare turn of events, Pennsylvania’s electoral votes went to Roosevelt—the only time a third-party candidate won the election in the state—however, the nation put Wilson in the White House.
Even as the national tide began to turn in 1932, Pennsylvania held fast to incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover, 7/11, over Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the campaign that led to FDR’s first term. Although Pennsylvania’s votes went to Roosevelt in the following three elections, the state favored Republican Thomas E. Dewey, 8/11, over FDR’s Democrat successor, Harry S. Truman, in 1948. Twenty years later, in the ninth instance that Pennsylvania’s vote failed to have an impact on the national outcome, the state’s electoral votes went to Democrat Hubert Humphrey, 9/11, over Republican Richard M. Nixon.
In recent years, Pennsylvania has been considered a swing state, where the margin of support for the two major parties is tight, with the result having a strong impact on close national races. Since 1992, however, Pennsylvania has consistently voted Democrat, including two elections with losing Democrat opponents—in 2000 with Al Gore, 10/11, over George W. Bush and 2004 with John Kerry, 11/11, over Bush for his second term.
For this year’s election, we’ll know in just over a week who Pennsylvania will choose with its electoral votes — and if they’ll be the ultimate victor. Have a happy election day, PA!
Pennsylvania Heritage is a popularly styled, illustrated magazine featuring stories about the commonwealth’s rich culture and historic legacy, published by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. A one-year subscription of Pennsylvania Heritage is available as a premium with membership in the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation, the PHMC’s non-profit partner organization. Individual issues are available at www.shoppaheritage.com.
Look for the launch of the Pennsylvania Heritage Online in 2017.
Pennsyvania Voting History - History
With the 2020 United States presidential election just weeks away and the campaign in a pitched battle regarding mail-in ballots, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own mayoral election in 2017. The issues of voter fraud and mail-in ballots were recently reviewed by Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan of the Western District of Pennsylvania in connection with a lawsuit brought by the Trump campaign. Judge Ranjan issued an opinion stating the Trump campaign had no standing due to a lack of evidence of actual fraud. Judge Ranjan opined as follows: “While Plaintiffs may not need to prove actual voter fraud, they must at least prove such fraud is certainly impending.”
I was the Republican candidate for mayor of the City of Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 2017 and know a thing or two about voter irregularities. That’s right, Scranton, Vice President Joseph Biden’s hometown. Scranton, once the epicenter of anthracite coal mining, is an economically challenged blue-collar city with incredibly hard-working people. The city has fallen on tough times financially primarily because of its eroding tax base and decades of mismanagement and corruption. In fact, my opponent in the 2017 election was recently sentenced to seven years in federal prison for accepting bribes while serving as mayor.
The politics of Scranton are clearly nowhere near as good as its hard-working people. Scranton has been controlled by the Democratic Party for decades while the population has dwindled from a high of 125,000 people to about 65,000 today. Voter registration in the city is lopsided: Democrats have an edge of about three to one over the Republicans. The last real Republican mayor elected in Scranton was David Wentzel in 1985. Accordingly, I knew I would face an uphill battle even before I announced my candidacy.
Nevertheless, I was undaunted, knowing I had a tremendous amount of Democratic support. Unchallenged in the primary, I was able to focus my efforts on my Democratic opponent’s lackluster record and the general election. Our campaign team was second to none and worked tirelessly from the day of our announcement in February right through election day, November 7, 2017. Our internal polling in the summer months of 2017 had us slightly behind, but gaining ground fast. By September our polls reflected a dead heat. This was evident from the number of people attending our rallies and yard signs popping up in the front lawns of traditionally Democrat voters. My opponent must have realized that his campaign was in trouble and started airing negative ads.
In mid-October, the Republican Party of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, received information regarding the delivery of 112 absentee ballot applications from a paid campaign operative of my opponent. Several days later the Republican Party was told that the same campaign operative delivered another 43 absentee ballot applications. While requests for absentee ballots are not unusual, the requests herein were suspect because they came from two precincts within the city and were all delivered by the same paid worker of my opponent.
A majority of the 155 applicants had the last name Patel and lived in the same housing complex. An analysis of the 155 applications reflected that 154 of the applicants would be out of the city on election day. That too was suspect. The reasons stated on the applications for being out of the municipality on election day ranged from going to a wedding, going to a birthday, and one applicant claiming an emergency. Further, a large number said they did not have a ride to the polling place, while the said polling place was across the street from the housing complex in which they lived. What was even more alarming is that most of the absentee applications appeared to reflect the same handwriting.
The county Republican Party was extremely concerned at this time and filed a complaint with the Lackawanna County Board of elections on October 31, 2017. It also hired an investigator who uncovered that the paid operative who had harvested the absentee applications was a felon. The investigator also uncovered how the voting scheme was going to work. My opponent’s paid operative and a member of the Scranton Indian Community assembled over 100 members of the Indian community at a temple and had these unsuspecting individuals sign off on absentee applications that had already been filled out for them.
The investigation also revealed that once individual applicants received the actual absentee ballots, they were to reach out to the operative or his contact within the Indian community to deliver their ballot to the temple. One absentee applicant told the investigator that he and his wife were to give the actual blank ballot to one of the two organizers of the scheme and that they wouldn’t have to go to the poll to vote. The complaint by the Republican Party with the Board of Elections must have been enough to stop the scheme in its tracks. Only nine of the 155 absentee ballot applicants actually voted by sending in their ballots.
Although we were able to derail the first scheme, my opponent and his campaign operatives were determined to take advantage of this unsuspecting minority group and therefore hatched plan B — Operation Assistance. Since the majority of the absentee applicants lived in public housing directly across the street from Scranton 9-1 and 9-2 voting precincts, my opponent had his campaign workers “knock and drag” these people to the polls. Once inside the polling place, the innocent voter was greeted by a Watcher who spoke to the individual in their native dialect and told them to request assistance.
Operation Assistance entailed having designated poll watchers fluent in the Indian dialects stationed inside the voting precincts where large numbers of electors who were members of the Indian community lived and voted. The voters were then escorted by my opponent’s campaign workers and handed over to the poll watcher inside the voting precinct like a relay baton. Once voters were in the precinct, the Watcher would approach the electors before they signed in to vote, speak to them in their Indian dialect, and tell them to ask for assistance. Watchers/operatives would then volunteer to provide assistance and would enter the polling booth with the elector and literally vote for the person or point to the ballot as to whom to vote for. After receiving numerous complaints, the Judge of Elections for these particular precincts admonished the watchers to stop pointing and touching the elector’s ballot. But it did no good. This intimidating and unscrupulous practice continued until the polls closed at 8:00 p.m.
A review of the election results for the precincts identified in this article clearly showed an anomaly in the votes cast. The votes cast for the office of mayor approximated the total number of voters who cast ballots. Conversely, the votes cast in the same precincts for other offices on the ballot were, in most instances, less than 10 percent to 40 percent of the total ballots cast. This was consistent with the scheme: the incumbent mayor and his campaign workers who provided assistance to the members of the Indian community provided the elector with a political handout containing the names and offices of three candidates only. This campaign handout, which was prepared specifically for Indian voters, was used to show the elector how to vote for only three candidates — my opponent being one of the three. This would account for the higher percentage votes being cast for the mayor despite there being other races on the ballot.
To determine the validity of this theory we requested and were given access to the individual and paper ballots after the election was certified. A count of the individual ballots identified the number of ballots where electors only cast ballots for the three candidates whose names were on the crib sheets. The number of ballots in the two precincts mentioned herein totaled 143. To determine if this same pattern existed in other precincts, we analyzed several precincts throughout the city. Out of the seven precincts sampled, only seven voters voted for only three candidates.
In the end I lost the election by a mere 515 votes out of 14,831 votes cast despite these clear voting irregularities. The point of this article, however, is to show that voter fraud does exist and will continue until our elected officials get serious about placing safeguards on the process. Pennsylvania’s Democrat Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, weighed in on the recent decision by Judge Ranjan and told the Associated Press, “It’s important to note they didn’t even need to prove actual voter fraud, just that it was likely or impending and they couldn’t even do that.” Maybe the attorney general should take a look at my file and Scranton in particular.
Attorney James Mulligan was Scranton’s 2017 Republican mayoral candidate.
How Young Activists Got 18-Year-Olds the Right to Vote in Record Time
As the uncertainty over the outcome of the 2020 presidential election sorted itself out, one data point was clear as day: The racially diverse youth vote was “instrumental” in sending former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris to the White House. According to researchers at Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), young voters aged 18-29 preferred the Democratic ticket by a 25-point margin. Their cohort, particularly young people of color, played a key role in “flipping” battleground states including Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and the estimated youth turnout increased significantly from 2016.
Given such numbers, it’s not surprising that the misbegotten impression holds today that the younger the electorate, the more favorable the electorate for liberals. But the decades-long push to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, which culminated in the 1971 ratification of the 26th Amendment, came about because young Americans of different races, genders and political persuasions came together, taking on an ambivalent and resistant government, to gain the right to vote.
Passed by Congress on March 23 and ratified by the required 38 states by July 1, the amendment became law in 100 days, the fastest route to ratification of any of the 27 amendments to the Constitution. It declared “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.” Ten million new voters were now enfranchised. Many historians and journalists have attributed the Amendment’s passage to the work of anti-war protesters of the 1960s, who could be conscripted into military service at 18 but could not vote until 21. But the real history is more layered than that.
President Richard Nixon shakes hands with members of Young Americans in Concert after signing the 26th Amendment on July 5, 1971. (Bettmann via Getty Images)
“It was a perfect storm in many ways,” says Seth Blumenthal, a senior lecturer at Boston University and the author of Children of the Silent Majority: Youth Politics and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1968-1980. Blumenthal notes that the tragedy of Kent State in 1970 had exacerbated nationwide tensions around the generation gap. “America,” he says, “needed a steam valve. All the sides saw ways in which [the youth vote] would be beneficial and work” for them.
The fight to lower the voting age began in earnest decades earlier, in the early 1940s, in response to a different conflict: World War II. Between 1940 and 1942, Congress passed successive Selective Service laws that lowered the military draft age first from 21 to 20, then from 20 to 18 in 1942. The 1942 age limit sparked debate in Congress about the connection between the voting age of 21 and the age of military service, and the fairness of conscripting men into service who could not vote.
“If young men are to be drafted at 18 years of age to fight for their Government,” said Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan as Congress considered his bill to lower the voting age, “they ought to be entitled to vote at 18 years of age for the kind of government for which they are best satisfied to fight.”
Legislators introduced multiple bills into the state and federal legislatures calling for a lower voting age, but despite growing awareness of the issue in public and the endorsement of the cause by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, none passed at the federal level.
One obstacle, says Jenny Diamond Cheng, a lecturer at Vanderbilt Law School, was Representative Emanuel Celler, who wielded power in the House Judiciary Committee. He became chair of that committee in 1949 and consistently worked to stop any bills lowering the voting age, which he vehemently opposed.
Another issue: how American culture viewed teens and those in their early 20s, says Rebecca de Schweinitz, a history professor at Brigham Young University working on a book about youth suffrage. Most youth advocates, she says, were adult social reformers focused on creating greater access to secondary education, regulating child labor and providing services like welfare to young people. These reformers did not “talk about young people as independent agents,” who could handle the demands of adulthood, says de Schweinitz. “They talked and thought about them as people who needed to be cared for.”
Youth themselves were also not enthusiastic about gaining the right to vote. Polls, such as one covered in the Atlanta Constitution, showed 53 percent of American high school students opposed the proposal in 1943.
“This ‘caretaking’ understanding of young people and their rights dominated 1940s and 1950s public discourse and policy, making it difficult for Vote 18 allies to discuss eighteen-year-olds as independent contributors to the country” and therefore worthy recipients of the right to vote, explains de Schweinitz in her article “The Proper Age for Suffrage.”
Two posters encouraging newly enfranchised voters to register and vote in the 1972 election. (Youth Citizenship Fund, Inc. / National Museum of American History)
At the state level, however, the push for youth suffrage gained some momentum. Between 1942 and 1944, 31 states proposed lowering the voting age, political scientist Melanie Jean Springer writes in the Journal of Policy History . Most failed, but one succeeded—in August 1943, Georgia governor Ellis Arnall oversaw the ratification of an amendment to Georgia’s state constitution that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. He invoked what Cheng and other scholars believe was the first use of the slogan “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” by a public official. Georgia would remain the only state to take the plunge for the next 12 years.
The idea simmered on the political backburner throughout the next two decades. In his 1954 State of the Union Address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke in favor of lowering the voting age. By 1960, Kentucky, Alaska and Hawaii had joined Georgia in granting the vote to those under 21 for state and local elections. (Kentucky lowered the voting age to 18 in 1955, and Alaska and Hawaii lowered the voting age to 19 and 20 respectively when they became states in 1959.) In 1963, President John F. Kennedy created the President’s Commission on Registration and Voting Participation to help counter the U.S.’s low voter turnout in comparison to other Western countries like Denmark (at 85.5 percent) and Italy (at 92 percent). The commission recommended solutions such as expanding voter registration dates, abolishing poll taxes, making mail-in absentee voting easier and that “voting by persons 18 years of age should be considered by the states.”
As the U.S. government committed more troops to the war in Vietnam, the “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” slogan re-emerged in Congress and in pop culture with even more force. At the same time, teenagers, who represented the earliest members of the large Baby Boomer generation, heavily involved themselves in political movements like the push for civil rights, campus free speech and women’s liberation. These flashpoints stood front and center in the public consciousness, showcasing the growing power of youth in directing the nation’s cultural conversations.
Politicians “who were supporting a lower voting age in the 1940s and 1950s talked about the potential for young people to be politically engaged. In the late 1960s, they didn’t talk about political potential, because [youth] everywhere” were engaged, says de Schweinitz.
Into the 1960s, more politicians from both sides of the aisle took a public stand in favor of the move. And by 1968, according to a Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans agreed that “persons 18, 19, and 20 years old should be permitted to vote.”
Patricia Keefer of the Youth Franchise Coalition holding signs promoting the 18-year-old vote in March 1971, the same month Congress passed the 26th Amendment. (Bettman via Getty Images)
Youth suffrage became a unifying cause for diverse political interests, including the NAACP, Young Democrats and Young Republicans. Some groups had lobbied for the cause on their own, but in 1969, the activists seized on the rising tide of youth power in all areas of civil rights and brought their cause to Congress. The coalition enjoyed the support of established unions and lobbying groups, including the United Auto Workers and the National Education Association. The teachers’ union even created specialized advocacy groups for the campaign: Project 18 and the Youth Franchise Coalition.
“They brought this network together and allowed people across the country to share ideas and work together on a national strategy,” says de Schweinitz.
The coalition converged in late April that year for the NAACP-sponsored Youth Mobilization conference in Washington, D.C. Organized by Carolyn Quilloin (now Coleman), who had started her activism work as a teenager protesting segregation in Savannah, Georgia, the gathering brought together 2,000 young people from 33 states to lobby Congress in support of youth voting rights.
It was “a coming out event” for the coalition, says de Schweinitz. Unlike earlier suffrage efforts that lacked grassroots support, the coalition “made visible a range of state committees and organizations where young people were pushing for the right to vote. [They wanted] to change the narrative and show that young people wanted to be full participants.”
Member of Washington state's Young Voter Registration Coordinating Committee meet during the summer of 1971, when the 26th Amendment enfranchised an estimated 10 million new voters. (Jack Brow / MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photograph Collection, 2000.107.220.41.02)
In a forthcoming article in the Seattle University Law Review, Mae C. Quinn, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia and the director of their Youth Justice and Appeals Project, writes that despite Quilloin’s experience as a leader, her foundational work soon was overshadowed by three young white men lobbying on behalf of the NEA. According to Quinn’s research, the white lobbyists received more press coverage and were often referred to as “leaders” of the national youth voting movement.
“Young black women and teens are historical subjects who don't often get talked about and yet have been very powerful and at the forefront of change,” says Quinn in an interview. “The 26th Amendment is a place where we see that front and center, and it's important for us to remember that.”
Scholars disagree over the extent to which grassroots action on voting propelled the government to act. But following the mobilization, the political wheels began to turn on making youth enfranchisement a reality. According to Blumenthal, the potential capture of the youth electorate appealed to both parties. For Democrats, it offered a chance to expand their voting base, which had suffered when the South defected to the George Wallace campaign in 1968. For Republicans, lowering the voting age offered a way to invite youth participation into the current system while keeping the status quo and preventing more radical unrest.
The Nixon campaign, gearing up for the 1972 election, wanted to send a message that he could calm the generation gap by passing the 26th Amendment, says Blumenthal. “Youth rebellion had become a number one concern across the country, and to send [this] message… fit into Nixon's larger message of law and order.”
This approach was echoed in a 1968 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the issue from Jack McDonald of the Young Republican National Federation. McDonald said lowering the voting age was a way to give conservative youth a political voice and bust the myth that young people were all disillusioned, violent and radical. “Young America’s is a voice that says, ‘Work a solid day’ far more than it says ‘Take an LSD trip.’ It is a voice that urges us to ‘Build man build’ rather than ‘Burn baby burn,’” he said.
1971 posters promoting youth political participation. (McQ, Inc. and Youth Citizenship Fund, Inc. / National Museum of American History)
When the committee convened on the issue again in 1970, more members of the coalition spoke in favor of youth suffrage, bolstered by the success of the previous year’s summit. “Many of the problems erupting from my generation today stem from frustration and disillusionment,” said Charles Gonzales, a college student and president of the Student NEA. “We are frustrated with a system that propagandizes the merits of the democratic process… and then postpones meaningful involvement for us in that process.”
In his testimony, James Brown Jr. of the NAACP made an explicit connection between the voting rights of black Americans and those of young people, saying: “The NAACP has a long and glorious history of seeking to redress grievances of the blacks, the poor, the downtrodden, and the ‘victims’ of unfair and illegal actions and deeds. The disenfranchisement of approximately 10 million young Americans deserves, warrants and demands the attention of the NAACP.”
The testimonies of coalition members prompted a wave of activity on the issue. Within the month, the Senate had amended that year’s extension of the Voting Rights Act to give the right to vote to those between 18 and 21 years of age. It was a strategic move to get around Celler, who still strongly opposed youth suffrage because he felt young people were not mature enough to make sound political judgements, but was also an original sponsor of the Voting Rights Act. Despite Celler’s assertion that he would fight the measure “come hell or high water,” his commitment to civil rights won out.
The introduction of the 26th Amendment in Congress. (National Archives)
Congress approved the change, but Oregon, Idaho, Texas and Arizona challenged the ruling in front of the Supreme Court as an infringement on states’ rights to manage voting. In Oregon v. Mitchell, the court determined that Congress could pass a change in the voting age at the federal level, but not at the state level.
This decision meant state election officials in nearly every state would need to create and maintain two sets of voter records, resulting in a huge administrative burden and massive costs that many states did not want to take on. And even if they did, it was unlikely that everything could be organized before the 1972 election. This issue helped push the 26th Amendment forward as a viable and necessary fix.
High school students in Los Angeles line up to register to vote in 1971. (Bettmann via Getty Images)
In response, the House and Senate, supported by Nixon, introduced what would become the 26th Amendment in March 1971. Even Celler saw the writing on the wall, telling his fellow House members: “This movement for voting by youths cannot be squashed. Any effort to stop the wave for the 18- year-old vote would be as useless as a telescope to a blind man.” Within an hour of its passage, states began to ratify the proposal. With the necessary two-thirds majority reached on July 1, President Nixon certified the 26th Amendment four days later, saying: “The country needs an infusion of new spirits from time to time… I sense that we can have confidence that America’s new votes will provide what this country needs.”
Following their victory, many of the people involved in the campaign immediately turned their attention to registering new voters in time for the next year’s presidential election. Politicians likewise mobilized to capture the 18-to-21-year-old demographic. Despite widespread assumptions that youth skewed overwhelmingly left, the Nixon campaign created Young Voters for the President, an organizing arm that specifically targeted the conservative “children of the silent majority” who didn’t relate to the more liberal protesters and resented their association with the youth suffrage campaign. Democratic nominee George McGovern assumed youth would overwhelmingly support his anti-war message, and anticipated a 70 percent sweep of the demographic.
Youth voter registration outreach in New York in 1971. (U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress)
When the ballots were cast, only about half of newly eligible youth voters turned out, and the vote was split between the two candidates. It was a disappointing result for McGovern, and for many of the advocates, who had hoped for a higher turnout.
A few factors influenced the relatively low showing for youth, says Blumenthal. Registration was hampered by complex rules, and the sense among young people that the political system was broken squashed enthusiasm to participate in the election. McGovern, too, lost steam with youth when he started appealing to older, more moderate voters as the campaign wore on.
“Even though young people didn't turn out the way people had hoped in 1972, the threat of them turning out forced politicians to listen to their demands,” says Blumenthal, noting that Nixon pledged to end the draft in 1968 and enacted environmental protections following his victories.
Nixon’s certification of the 26th Amendment “was the culmination of a very public [process] to demonstrate, as much as possible, to young people that older people were ready to listen,” he says. “And to some extent, it was true.”
Buttons pushing young people to vote in the 1972 presidential election. (Gifts of Robert N. Ferrell and John C. Olsen / National Museum of American History)
Half a century later, many elements of youth voting look similar to how they did in the 1970s: Younger voters identify as political independents in higher numbers than those in older generations do, and they still face voter registration roadblocks and a lack of understanding around voting laws. According to Quinn, one such barrier is the overcriminalization of youth of color, which can lead to adult felony convictions barring voting for life, fees that must be cleared before voting, and arrest issuances for low-level offenses that can deter would-be voters from coming to polling places. Residency requirements and state ID laws also dampen college students’ ability to cast ballots. Many of these restrictions are being contested across the country.
“Claims that young people do not vote because they are apathetic, or unconcerned about the world around them, fail to appreciate the complexity of the situations they face,” Quinn, Caridad Dominguez, Chelsey Omega, Abrafi Osei-Kofi and Carlye Owens write in the Akron Law Review.
According to the CIRCLE data, youth turnout increased in 2020 by an estimated seven percentage points over the 2016 data, a substantial increase.
Now, a new wave of activists has taken up the mantle of youth suffrage again, this time arguing for an even lower voting age: 16. In some municipalities, such as Takoma Park, Maryland, and Berkeley, California, 16-year-olds can already vote for (respectively) city government and school board seats. Young people are also active in voter registration and mobilization efforts across the country as they fight the immediate crises of climate change, racism and economic inequality. Those spearheading today’s youth suffrage movements can see their own motivations in the words of Philomena Queen, the youth chair of the Middle Atlantic Region of the NAACP, who spoke in front of the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments in 1970:
“We see in our society wrongs which we want to make right we see imperfections that we want to make perfect we dream of things that should be done but are not we dream of things that have never been done, and we wonder why not. And most of all, we view all of these as conditions that we want to change, but cannot. You have disarmed us of the most constructive and potent weapon of a democratic system—the vote.”
About Manisha Claire
Manisha Claire is a writer whose work has appeared in the Atlantic, JSTOR Daily and Jezebel, among other publications. She lives in Massachusetts.
Pennsyvania Voting History - History
In 1881, reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd, author of Wealth Against Commonwealth, commented that John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company had done everything with the Pennsylvania legislature except refine it. So complete was the Pennsylvania Railroad's control over the state house that Pennsylvania Railroad Presidents J. Edgar Thompson, Tom Scott, and Alexander Cassatt often held veto power over all important legislation. Indeed, the expression "Scott free" originated from legislation that passed through the state legislature without the Railroad's objection. How did this situation come to pass?
First, the Republican Party, then the party of big business and high tariffs, ruled Pennsylvania for more than seventy years. During this era only one Democrat served as governor, Philadelphia's dynamic Robert Pattison, who was elected twice due to splits in the Republican Party among the Republican bosses and reformers. Fifteen of seventeen United State's senators were Republicans, and both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were controlled by powerful and long-lived Republican city "machines." From 1860 to 1932, Pennsylvania cast its electoral votes for every Republican presidential candidate except one - Progressive Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. Pennsylvania's reliably Republican 32 to 36 electoral votes, second only to New York's 43 to 47, were critical in insuring that only two Democrats occupied the White House during the same period.
During the Civil War, Pennsylvania's Democrats were notoriously pro-Southern. In its aftermath, Republicans received credit for the preservation of the Union. Pennsylvanian general George McClellan, who ran for President on the Democratic ticket against Lincoln in 1864, was solidly in the peace block, which further discredited his party.
Pennsylvania Republicans, on the other hand, supplied several nationally distinguished leaders during the Civil War era. Radical Republican Congressmen Thaddeus Stevens led the movement to impeach Andrew Johnson and protect the rights of freedmen. Philadelphia's William "Pig Iron" Kelley was famous not only for his insistence on a high tariff on that product, but was a great supporter of African-American, women's and workers' rights.
By the late 1860s, however, powerful new political bosses rather than the wartime leaders set the tone for the party. Pennsylvania's Republican kingmakers then turned to Civil War heroes to give them a respectable front. It speaks volumes for the disgust the machine inspired that Civil War governor Andrew Curtin became a Democrat, ex-general John White Geary was preparing to run for President of the United States on the Farmer-Labor ticket when he died in 1872, and Governor Henry Hoyt praised the people of Pennsylvania for reacquiring control of their own government when they elected his successor, Democrat Robert Pattison, in 1882.
Other governors, such as James Beaver and Daniel Hastings, were honest but supported business interests, as did Pennsylvanian and U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Strong. Beaver, like Democratic Presidential candidate Winfield Scott Hancock, only entered politics reluctantly. Like Generals Sherman and Sheridan, who refused to run for office at all, they identified the glorious aspects of their country with the army that had saved the Union, rather than the political system that besmirched it.
The absence of a strong opposition party meant the Republican machine rarely had to keep its act honest in order to avoid defeat by the Democrats. This was not true, for instance, in New York, where reforming Democrats such as Governors Samuel Tilden and Grover Cleveland and liberal Republican journalist Horace Greeley achieved national prominence, and presidential nominations, for their fight against corruption in both parties.
No one besmirched the system more than Simon Cameron, the man who forged the state Republican machine and presided as its first boss. A successful businessman before the Civil War, Cameron, after his election to the U.S. Senate in 1866, controlled the dispensation of state jobs and contracts. Cameron cemented his power, in part, by making loans from his Middletown Bank in Dauphin County to the party faithful, that he then called in or forgave depending upon their service to the Party.
Cameron resigned his seat in 1877 after first arranging for Governor James Hartranft to appoint his son Donald Cameron to replace him. Donald led the Party for the next decade, then gave up the reins of power in the late 1880s to the most daring, resourceful, and, at times, merciless of the state bosses, Matthew Quay, who ruled over the state and was a leader in the United State's Senate until his death in 1904.
Patronage was the foundation of the machine's power, at all levels of government. State and city employees were the "ward heelers," that is, men who supposedly wore out the heels of their shoes walking around their assigned neighborhood to make sure favors were done for the faithful: unruly boys were sprung from jail, men were given jobs on city construction projects, and faithful voters received cash, drinks, and other rewards for their vote - or votes. In the company coal and steel towns, immigrant voters who could not read were given pre-marked ballots by their bosses and marched to the polls. They voted Republican or lost their jobs.
In an age when private charities and mutual aid provided the basic network of social services necessary for survival, city governments provided jobs and "personal services" to their poor and working-class residents. This gave rise, most notoriously in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, to corrupt Republican city "machines." In Philadelphia, Boss James McManes in the 1870s put together the famous "Gas House Gang." Awarding jobs to party workers and "personal services" to voters, Philadelphia's Republican machine would rule the city into the 1950s, its leaders confident that they were providing outstanding service to the city's residents.
The city machines also worked with the saloons, gambling dens, and other commercial vice operations, which helped bring out the vote and paid protection money that helped fund the party's bribes and services. The city bosses also mastered the art of controlling the vote - by stuffing ballots, registering the same people in multiple precincts, and voting the deceased. In Philadelphia, even the Democratic Party was in on the deal: The Republicans paid the rent on its headquarters and guaranteed Democrats a certain percentage of offices to make it appear as if a genuine two-party system functioned.
On the federal level, all government jobs were held by political appointment until the assassination of President Garfield in 1881 by an unhappy office seeker led to the gradual introduction of civil service. The post office and customs house were the two greatest sources of jobs. With Republican presidents in power from 1861 to 1913 (except for Grover Cleveland's two terms), Pennsylvania's Republican Senators could determine who got federal jobs. Union veterans, who as members of the Grand Army of the Republic formed a powerful political lobby, obtained many of these, along with federal and state pensions they received through special laws.
The era of corruption came to a head with the construction of Pennsylvania's beautiful new state Capitol, completed in 1906. Costing what to us seems like a mere $13 million, it is arguably the most beautiful state house in the nation. But the state treasurer, the architect, and two other men went to jail for padding the bills and thereby doubling the cost of the edifice. The Republican state machine created by Simon Cameron in the 1860s held together until the death of its last boss, Senator Boies Penrose, in 1921. In the 1920s, political power in Pennsylvania was split between the Mellon-Grundy faction centered in Pittsburgh and the Vare machine in Philadelphia.
The Republican bosses continued their control of Pennsylvania until the mid-1930s, when the state voters, suffering under laissez-faire policies that kept out New Deal aid, ended the Republicans' seventy-year rule by bolting to the Democratic Party.
14a. State Constitutions
James Wilson signed the Declaration of Independence and was the Advocate General for France in America from 1779 to 1783.
The states now faced serious and complicated questions about how to make their rules. What did it mean to replace royal authority with institutions based on popular rule? How was " popular sovereignty " (the idea that the people were the highest authority) to be institutionalized in the new state governments? For that matter, who were "the people"?
Every state chose to answer these questions in different ways based on distinctive local experiences, but in most cases colonial traditions were continued, but modified, so that the governor (the executive) lost significant power, while the assemblies (the legislative branch, which represented the people most directly) became much more important. We'll focus on the new rules created in three states to suggest the range of answers to the question about how to organize republican governments based upon popular rule.
John Adams remarked that the Pennsylvania constitution of 1776 was "so democratical that it must produce confusion and every evil work." He would be elected to the Presidency in 1796.
Pennsylvania created the most radical state constitution of the period. Following the idea of popular rule to its logical conclusion, Pennsylvania created a state government with several distinctive features. First, the Pennsylvania constitution of 1776 abolished property requirements for voting as well as for holding office. If you were an adult man who paid taxes, then you were allowed to vote or even to run for office. This was a dramatic expansion of who was considered a political person, but other aspects of the new state government were even more radical. Pennsylvania also became a " unicameral " government where the legislature only had one body. Furthermore, the office of the governor was entirely eliminated. Radicals in Pennsylvania observed that the governor was really just like a small-scale king and that an upper legislative body (like the House of Lords in Parliament) was supposed to represent wealthy men and aristocrats. Rather than continue those forms of government, the Pennsylvania constitution decided that "the people" could rule most effectively through a single body with complete legislative power.
Many conservative Patriots met Pennsylvania's new design with horror. When John Adams described the Pennsylvania constitution, he only had bad things to say. To him it was "so democratical that it must produce confusion and every evil work." Clearly, popular rule did not mean sweeping democratic changes to all Patriots.
South Carolina's state constitution of 1778 created new rules at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Pennsylvania. In South Carolina, white men had to possess a significant amount of property to vote, and they had to own even more property to be allowed to run for political office. In fact, these property requirements were so high that 90 percent of all white adults were prevented from running for political office!
John Rutledge served as both South Carolina's president and governor. The state's original constitution, drafted in 1776, called for the election of a state president. But changes made to the document in 1778 saw the state's chief executive become known as "governor."
This dramatic limitation of who could be an elected political leader reflected a central tradition of 18th-century Anglo-American political thought. Only individuals who were financially independent were believed to have the self-control to make responsible and reasonable judgments about public matters. As a result poor white men, all women, children, and African Americans (whether free or slave) were considered too dependent on others to exercise reliable political judgment. While most of these traditional exclusions from political participation have been ended in America today, age limitations remain, largely unchallenged.
The creation of the Massachusetts state constitution of 1780 offered yet another way to answer some of the questions about the role of "the people" in creating a republican government. When the state legislature presented the voters with a proposed constitution in 1778, it was rejected because the people thought that this was too important an issue for the government to present to the people. If the government could make its own rules, then it could change them whenever it wanted and easily take away peoples' liberties. Following through on this logic, Massachusetts held a special convention in 1780 where specially elected representatives met to decide on the best framework for the new state government.
This idea of a special convention of the people to decide important constitutional issues was part of a new way of thinking about popular rule that would play a central role in the ratification of the national Constitution in 1787-1788.