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Voting Viva Voce: Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics

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Today, the act of voting is a largely secretive affair in the US, with booths and ballot machines protecting voters' privacy. This was not always the case--voting used to be "conducted in the open before interested spectators," and in some states, votes were cast viva voce, or by voice. This type of voting is key in Voting Viva Voce: Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics, a project examining the lives of residents in 1860 Alexandria, Virginia, "a commercial city based on slave labor," and in 1870 Newport, Kentucky, "an industrial city based on immigrant labor." Visitors can search or browse each city's database by social group, business, or individual, with the results displaying on a map of the city showing their residences or business locations. A remarkable range of individual-level data is available, such as demographics, occupation, relationship to slavery, and which candidates individuals voted for in elections. This resource also provides useful contextual information about public voting in Alexandria and Newport. Voting Viva Voce was created by Don DeBats, Professor of American Studies at Flinders University (Australia) and a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia.
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GEM Subject
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Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2018-08-24
Archived Scout Publication URL https://scout.wisc.edu/report/2018/0824

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