Today in History: Election Day

In the United States of America, today is Election Day. The next inhabitants of the offices of President and Vice President are to be filled by voters along with one-third of the seats in the United States Senate, the entire population of the House of Representatives, and many local elections (mostly, state legislatures).

Today’s presidential election is the 58th quadrennial presidential election in the nation’s history. The system as it has evolved is neither a truly popular vote nor a truly national one: today’s election is more a collection of entwined local votes that will add up to some statewide and national results. There are so many polling places across the nation that a census is not feasible: some states leave it up to the counties to make polling places available, so one must look for polling station information in those states by contacting county election officials.

If you are registered to vote, with or without a political party, but you do not know where your polling place is, there are many resources. Facebook has offered itself as a polling place locator and ballot information resource, for instance. Here is one other website: Vote411.org.

Nationally, there are about 1000 fewer polling places available than there were in 2012, a sad state of affairs caused by a U.S. Supreme Court decision (June 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder) that said that provisions of the Voting Rights Act were no longer needed. Texas, Arizona, and several southern states decided to not open polling places in locations whose populations are dominated by minorities. This year in Maricopa County, Arizona, each polling place is to serve 21,000 voters apiece. There will be lines.

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Presidents of the United States elected on November 8: Abraham Lincoln (1864), Grover Cleveland (1892), Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt (1932), George H. W. Bush (1988). (The 1988 election was the first one I voted in. I have voted with the victor five times.)

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John Milton died on this date in 1674. Norman Rockwell died on this date in 1978. Vyacheslav Molotov died 30 years ago today.

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Sarah Fielding was born on this date in 1710. Milton Bradley, the board game creator, was born 180 years ago today. Dorothy Day was born on this date in 1897. Margaret Mitchell was born on this date in 1900. Dr Christiaan Barnard was born on this date in 1922. The late Morley Safer was born on this date in 1930. (He died in May.)

Aaron Swartz would be 30 today.

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Norman Lloyd is 102 today. He is the last surviving member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and one of the few members of that group who turned down a chance to participate in a film Welles was developing: Citizen Kane. His character meets a memorable end, thanks to some bad stitching, at the Statue of Liberty in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur. He played Dr. Auschlander on television in St. Elsewhere and was the headmaster in Dead Poets Society. He continues to work: his most recent film is 2015’s Trainwreck.

Bobby Bowden is 87. Ben Bova is 84. Alain Delon is 81. Bonnie Bramlett is 72. Bonnie Raitt is 67. Mary Hart is 66. Alfre Woodard is 64. Rickie Lee Jones is 62. Kazuo Ishiguro is 62. Gordon Ramsay is 50. Parker Posey is 48. Tara Reid is 41. Jack Osbourne is 31.

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