Have you wondered why turnout is so poor for elections in the United States? Shankar Vedantam in today’s Washington Post explains. (You might need free subscription to view the full article at the Washington Post.)
Elections in the mid-19th century were festive affairs, and people gathered to carouse, jostle one another and vote. They sometimes cast their ballots on a stage to cheers and jeers. Voting, even their choice of candidates, used to be extremely public.
A series of progressive reforms in the late 19th century turned voting into a private affair. Campaign operatives were kept clear of polling stations. People got to vote in secret, and few knew whether their neighbors voted.
Get out and meet some people this election. It’s fun. Joe and I got to meet our congressman (Rep. Bart Stupak) this weekend when he joined our group for a door-to-door canvassing. No booze, but the pizza at our little party was pretty good.