It’s Election Day in the U.S.A. (Don’t forget to vote).
As we watch the tally of popular and electoral votes this evening, remember that presidential elections and the electoral college have been in existence since 1787 (when the Constitution was signed). That means they were certainly in use during the 1864 Presidential Election during the Civil War.
We know very well who won and who lost that 1864 election, but how about the statistics of the winning candidate? And could Union soldiers vote?George B. McClellan and George Pendleton (Democrat Party)
Popular Vote: 1,809,445 or 44.9%
Electoral Vote: 21 or 9%
Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson (Republican Party)
Popular Vote: 2,220,846 or 55.1%
Electoral Vote: 212 or 90.6%
And here’s a map of the election results:
(Map and Statistics retrieved from The American Presidency Project)
I’d say it was a landslide victory for Mr. Lincoln!
The 1864 Presidential Election set an important precedent. Soldiers – absent from home and fighting a war – were allowed to vote. Realizing that many of the voters were in the army, provisions were made for absentee voting. Nineteen states passed provisions to allow their soldiers to vote in the field. The states who did not allow absentee voting were Democratic Party controlled and might have been worried about military support for Lincoln.
Twelve states counted the absentee ballots separately, giving historians insight into the political feelings of the Union armies. Seventy-eight percent of the soldier votes went to Lincoln, compared to the fifty-three percent of Republican votes from the civilian population in those same states. The Union soldier votes played a role in Lincoln’s re-election and revealed the military spirit in favor of finishing (winning) the war.
The 1864 Election set important precedent for the American voting system. It laid groundwork for military voting, and it introduced absentee ballots. Both innovations opened doors to improve “voting experience” and helped ensure that all citizens have a voice in their republic.