More than half of our nation is now rejoicing; and the other half is not. However, the Presidential Election of 2020 goes far beyond who was elected president. It marks an election which reflects what makes our nation great. In fact, it is an election which should make all of us feel very proud! Why? Because the voter turnout this year was the highest in a century; and in the midst of a pandemic that is now increasing by over 100,000 people a day! And in addition, the vote came in the midst of a very troubling year:
The loss of jobs
The economic hardships
And the hurricanes, floods, and fires.
And the challenges of isolation
However; in the midst of all this, America still went to the polls to vote.
And the long queues in some places have been celebrated by those who endured them as a welcome sign of enthusiasm.
You may think waiting 11 hours to vote would be the height of frustration, but not for one family in Georgia. “We made it, y’all,” says Johnta Austin in one viral video filmed as they reach the front of the queue, describing the lengthy process as an “honor.”
Other Americans say they wept when they discovered such a motivated electorate on the morning of the vote.
In fact, current forecasts predict that over 158 million people voted, giving this election the highest turnout of eligible voters since 1900.
Realize this; in America’s infancy only, the few could vote and decide who would govern. The vote was limited in many places to property-owning white men and few American met that criteria. (George Washington was re-elected with only 6.3 percent of eligible voters turning up to cast a ballot in 1792.) In fact, the percentage of eligible voters who exercised their right was quite low for first four decades with 1812 an incredible high of 40 percent.
It wasn’t until 1828 when suffrage was granted to non-property-owning white men and the percentage of eligible voters rose above 50 percent. By 1840 over 70 percent of eligible voters were going to the polls to elect their president. The numbers stayed high between 70 and 80 percent of the eligible populous voting in presidential election years.
These were years of great contention as the country was expanding westward and the issue of slavery brought the country to decide it in the Civil War. With the passing of the 25th Amendment in 1870, African-American men were given the right to vote and for a brief time the number of people voting rose even more.
1900 was the last time over 70 percent of the US electorate went to the polls.
Then the number of people voting as a percentage of the total population increased dramatically after 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote. Since then, the amount of people voting has gone up and down usually staying between 50 and 60 percent.
In 1960, voting saw a peak at 64 percent with the election of John F Kennedy; the first Catholic President. Through the 1970s and 80s voting decreased but always stayed above 50 percent.
In the 1990s, voting began to increase again, with the most recent peak in 2008 at 62 percent when the US elected Barack Obama, the first African American to hold the highest office.
And a week ago, it reached 70 percent!
So again, this Presidential Election of 2020 goes far beyond who was elected president. It reflects how all of us are involved in determining what happens in our country and this year we did! So, America! Be proud! We truly care, and have faith in our system!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.