Pulling the Curtain: Voting in America
Portions of this show first aired as part of the BackStory episode “Early and Often: Voting in America,” broadcast in October 2008 and which you can listen to here.
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.
- Alexander Keyssar, Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard University
- Mark Summers, Professor of History at the University of Kentucky
- Jamie Raskin, Professor of Law at American University
Resources galore! Peruse a list of outside sources compiled by the BackStory team to provide a more complete picture of the history of voting in America, and consult a bibliography of works used in the making of this show.
Listen to individual show segments.
See a listing of music used in this episode.
Read the listener discussion that helped shape this show.