The influenza outbreak of 1918 was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. Prominent election law scholars, activists, and litigators, including Richard Hasen, Dale Ho, and Marc Elias, have demonstrated that we need reforms that nationalize voting by mail and permit any registered voter to cast and have counted an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse. It provides for the orderly transfer of power from one government to the next. “There ain’t any first-raters this year,” declared Connecticut Senator Frank Brandegee. President James Madison was forced to flee the city. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. As professor Francis Lieber, famous for his Civil War code of war, commented, “[i]f we come triumphantly out of this war, with a presidential election in the midst of it, I shall call it the greatest miracle in all the historic course of events.” That is what happened. “And we should have the elections on time.”. For more than 200 years, we have held federal elections in the midst of wars and bouts with serious diseases. Let’s Look Back at “The American Flu” Goethe Behr-July 6 ... Election Central provides nonpartisan news, op-eds, and information following the 2020 Presidential Election including primaries, debates, and state-by-state voting resources. You’ll also get a suite of great benefits. Seeking to regain the White House, Republicans settled on a dark-horse candidate, Senator Warren G. Hardingof Ohio, on the tenth ballot. June 1, 2020 - “America pulled off an election during the Spanish flu, but not without paying a price” On June 1, 2020, NBC News published an article about how American managed to pull off the 1918 midterm elections in the middle of a pandemic. As the nation has been roiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are grappling with how to prepare for and move forward with the 2020 elections and safeguard voting rights, while also ensuring public safety. FOLLOW US. You can cancel anytime. By the summer of 1919 the worst was over, but less severe waves continued into 1920 – … Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. Whatever the crisis, we have found ways to protect democracy, while maintaining our public safety and security. Lincoln’s words remind us that we cannot forsake our fundamental democratic principles in times of strain: “We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.” The election proved that “a people’s government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war.” Until that point, Lincoln stressed, “it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility.”, The precedent Lincoln set has loomed large in the years since. Tag: spanish flu. There appear to be several waves of the flu beginning at the end of September 1918 and ending by March 1920. All contents © 2020 The Slate Group LLC. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. Mail-in voting is already a reality in many states across the country. In 1918, a midterm election year, Americans went to the polls to exercise their fundamental right to vote, even as the Spanish flu resulted in the death of millions worldwide. On Aug. 24, 1814, as voters were getting ready to elect members of Congress, Washington was burning. Slate is covering the election issues that matter to you. Those who predicted that Lincoln would cancel elections to keep power were proved wrong.