Voting in Presidential Elections

March 11, 1936

Report Outline
Prospect for a Record Voted in 1936 Election
State Restrictions on Exercise of Franchise
Methods of Facilitating Exercise of Franchise
Patronage Vote-Getting and Compulsory Voting
Special Focus

Prospect for a Record Voted in 1936 Election

Popular Participation in Presidential Elections, 1892–1932

Approximately 58,500,000 American citizens will be eligible to register and vote in the presidential election of 1936. This election is likely to see a larger proportion of the eligible vote cast than any presidential poll of the last 30 years. In determining the size of the final vote much will depend upon the identity of the Republican candidate to be selected at Cleveland in June; upon the manner in which fundamental issues are presented, or evaded, in the campaign; and upon whether a third party enters the field. But, regardless of these and other influences, all present indications point to a tremendous outpouring of the voters in November. Participation in the election will probably compare favorably with the records of voting efficiency established in foreign countries during the post-war years, which have frequently been held up as examples to the American electorate.

A decline in voting efficiency in the United States, which began during the nineties, was sharply reversed in the presidential election of 1928, and in 1932 more than 70 per cent of the qualified voters went to the polls—as compared with less than 57 per cent in 1920 and 1924. The nature of the issues presented by the New Deal is such that a rise in voting efficiency to 80 per cent in the 1936 election is within the range of possibility, and an approach may even be made to the high record established in the presidential election of 1896.

Prior to 1928 the only interruption to the downward trend in voting efficiency came in 1916 when the question of American participation in the World War was uppermost in the minds of the voters. Enfranchisement of women by the adoption of the Nineteenth amendment to the Constitution on the eve of the 1920 election was followed by a sharp decline in the proportion of the eligible voters going to the polls, which continued into the presidential election of 1924.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 31, 2020  Presidential Primaries
Nov. 16, 2018  The Presidency
Jan. 06, 2017  Trump Presidency
Mar. 06, 2015  Presidential Power
Feb. 03, 2012  Presidential Election
Jan. 30, 2009  The Obama Presidency
Aug. 08, 2008  Political Conventions
Jul. 18, 2008  Race and Politics
Apr. 20, 2007  Electing the President
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Jul. 10, 1987  Presidential Nomination Process
Feb. 03, 1984  Choosing Presidential Nominees
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Jan. 06, 1960  Presidential Primaries, 1960
Jan. 04, 1956  Campaign Smearing
Nov. 30, 1955  Presidential Possibilities, 1956
May 09, 1952  Open Conventions
Jan. 16, 1952  Presidential Primaries, 1952
Oct. 12, 1949  Modernization of the Presidential Election
Jan. 14, 1948  Presidential Primaries
May 01, 1944  Foreign Policy in National Elections
Jan. 01, 1944  Choice of Candidates for the Presidency
Apr. 08, 1940  Republican Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Apr. 01, 1940  Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Jun. 19, 1939  Selection of Nominees for the Presidency
Aug. 19, 1938  Nomination by Primary
Mar. 11, 1936  Voting in Presidential Elections
Feb. 18, 1936  Presidential Candidates, 1936
Mar. 03, 1932  Decline of the Presidential Primary
Aug. 25, 1931  Presidential Candidates, 1932
May 05, 1928  National Nominating Conventions
Sep. 03, 1927  Presidential Candidates—1928
Jun. 14, 1927  Patronage Influence in Nominating Conventions
Sep. 11, 1926  The Future of the Direct Primary
Jul. 02, 1924  Proposed Reforms of Presidential Nominating Methods
Jun. 04, 1924  The Machinery of the Political Conventions
Mar. 15, 1924  Presidential Candidates and the Issues
Sep. 05, 1923  The Passing of the Second Term
Campaigns and Elections
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Voting and Suffrage