Elections are how a representative democracy functions. Voting selects who the representatives will be. The right to vote is a basic civil right in a democratic republic. Who has the right to vote has changed over time, and challenging barriers to voting is a common form of civil rights activism.

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The ballot is stronger than the bullet.

— Abraham Lincoln

Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.

— Abraham Lincoln

The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal … is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.

— Adlai Stevenson II

[M]en are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.

— Alice Duer Miller

July does not a November election make.

— Ann Richards

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?

— Barack Obama

Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work — that goes on, it adds up.

— Barbara Kingsolver

When it’s easier to buy a cache of assault weapons than cast a vote — expect massacres to be the norm

— Bill Madden

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.

— Bill Vaughan

If American women increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children.

— Coretta Scott King

The Voting Rights Act was, and still is, vitally important to the future of democracy in the United States.

— Coretta Scott King

Civil rights leaders, including my husband and Albert Turner, have fought long and hard to achieve free and unfettered access to the ballot box. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge.

— Coretta Scott King

Particularly in the South, efforts continue to be made to deny blacks access to the polls, even where blacks constitute the majority of the voters.

— Coretta Scott King

Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten.

— Dick Gregory

Campaign behavior for wives: Always be on time. Do as little talking as humanly possible. Lean back in the parade car so everybody can see the president.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.

— Eugene V. Debs

I guess if I’d had any sense, I’d have been a little scared [to register to vote] – but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do was kill me, and it kinda seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody, rather than for somebody.

— Franklin P. Adams, Nods and Becks (1944)

Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.

— Franklin P. Adams, 1944

When the political columnists say ‘Every thinking man’ they mean themselves, and when candidates appeal to ‘Every intelligent voter’ they mean everybody who is going to vote for them.

— Franklin P. Adams

The voice of the majority is no proof of justice.

— Friedrich Schiller, Maria Stuart

Clever and attractive women do not want to vote; they are willing to let men govern as long as they govern men.

— George Bernard Shaw

We preach the virtues of democracy abroad. We must practice its duties here at home. Voting is the first duty of democracy.

— Lyndon B. Johnson

The plan is to invest permanently the powers of government in the hands of the people who ought to have them — the white people.

— Mississippi official in 1890, about the poll tax

I view my role now as providing more of a macro-level skepticism, rather than saying this poll is good or this poll is evil.

— Nate Silver

Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats in senate.

— Orson Welles

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.

— Otto von Bismarck

I don’t want everybody to vote. Our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.

— Paul Weyrich

Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good: ‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We have to act now to take steps so that the next time there is a razor-thin election — and there will be one, sooner or later — our civil society is strong enough to withstand foreign and domestic efforts to tear it apart.

— Richard Hasen
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