In honor of today's Super Tuesday primaries -- or maybe we should call it the SEC primary since so many of the contests are in the South -- here's some history of voting and suppression of voting that I didn't know about until listening a recent Fresh Air interview that host Terry Gross did with historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore.
Of course I support any measures that increase civic participation: democracy dies if it is only a passive spectator sport. And for that reason, I'm suspicious of voting by mail which makes casting a ballot such a solitary experience. This country experienced its highest percentage turnout of the potential electorate in the last decade of the 19th century. Those elections were rowdy civic festivities.
But Lepore pointed out that these hurly-burly contests were probably not something we would applaud today.
You can read more about this history in Lepore's 2008 New Yorker article, Rock, Paper Scissors: How we used to vote.