Mid-Term 1918 Elections

There can be made many comparisons to life and events that shaped our ancestors’ lives in 1918 to present-day times. One major was the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, with the first wave in America in the spring of 1918 then the far more deadly second wave in the Fall of 1918. For example, just in the month of October 1918, some 195,000 Americans died from the Spanish Flu. So everyone stopped public gatherings, they closed schools, churches, theaters, sports events and quarantined themselves.

Just as we see in 2020, many political candidates could not do any campaigning for the 1918 mid-term elections – no rallies or speaking events. They could mail out campaign pamphlets and place political ads in the newspapers.

By the time the elections on November 5, 1918 were to be held, many polling sites were not opened since not enough citizens in that area were well enough. Those polling locations that were open, all workers had to wear face masks as well as the voters coming to the polls. Many people saw this as the first masked ballot ever to have occurred in the history of America.

There were a few locations on the eastern coast of the United States where health departments thought things were improving and churches and schools along with theaters could be opened in early November.

There was no real discussion of postponing the election that year, America was still at war with troops overseas. For the most part, those troops did not vote, some 2 million stationed overseas. Most Americans saw it as the civic responsibility to vote – a sign of patriotism.

Overall. there was about a 40% turnout of voters, compared to the other midterm years of 1910 and 1914 there was 52% and 50% turnout. It resulted in a Republican victory for both houses of Congress. Only 15 states had already granted w the right to vote in time for the election. Women all across the nation still did not have the full rights to voting, which would not come until 1920.

As a result of even 40% turnout of voters, there was an increase in the Spanish flu cases and deaths. Then November 11th with the ending of the war, more celebrations held as people marked the end of the war. Now a new surge of influenza cases across the nation and the globe.

Eight states have postponed their presidential primaries elections in 2020. Other elections are scheduled for August 2020, then the November 3, 2020 general election. You see what your ancestors faced, what might happen in 2020?

Photos: Flu Epidemic; Wearing Mask to Vote; Police in masks; and Celebrating the end of WW One.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Voting was Wild in the 1870s and 1880s

Spice Up Family History with Historical Events

1918-1919 and your Ancestors

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