Note: this piece was originally published in The Hill, and was written by Checks & Balances member Edward Larson.
When it comes to federal elections, the lifeblood of our democracy, the United States has never skipped a beat. For over two centuries, during wars, depression, and pestilence, Americans have faithfully voted every two years for Congress and every four years for president. This explains why now, more than ever, we need to secure our electoral processes for November to ensure that our republic survives this latest pandemic.
First, let us look back to history. In the midst of the Civil War and World War Two, our deadliest and most disruptive conflicts, the United States conducted federal elections. They also went on during the depths of the Great Depression. Amidst masks and quarantines, the midterm election for Congress proceeded during the height of the deadly second wave of the Spanish flu, which killed more than 600,000 Americans and as many as 100 million people around the world. All these elections mattered.
In the 1932 federal election, Franklin Roosevelt defeated President Hoover in a landslide that ushered in a New Deal to address the Great Depression. In the 1918 midterm election for Congress, the House and Senate flipped from Democratic to Republican, profoundly affecting the settlement of World War One. The federal elections of 1864 and 1944 produced vice presidents who assumed the presidency within weeks of taking office.