Why America Doesn't Vote

February 19, 1988

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If the U.S. election in November runs true to recent form, nearly half the nation's adult citizens will fail to take part in it. Is American democracy in a dangerous state of decay?

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On Nov. 19, 1863, at the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. President Lincoln dedicated the Gettysburg battlefield cemetery with these now-famous words: “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain …and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Although he had won the presidency in 1860 with only a plurality of the popular vote. Lincoln did, indeed, hold the office by choice of “the people.” An estimated 81.8 percent of the eligible populace had cast their ballots.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Voting and Suffrage