Echoing the Past

Excerpt from 1964 General Election voters pamphlet. Elections records, 1964 voter pamphlet, Multnomah County Archives, Portland, Oregon.
In the 1964 General Election pamphlet, Presidential Candidate Johnson is quoted:

“There are no parties - and there is no partisanship...We are one nation united and indivisible. And United and indivisible we shall remain.”

Echoes of Johnson could be heard in President Biden’s inaugural address, calling for unification: 

“The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly: Disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”

Screenshot of Google search results listing articles comparing Hubert Humphrey and Joseph Biden
Results of search in Google for terms "humphrey" + "biden". Captured June 3, 2021.
The comparison between the 1960s and the present day has been made before. Comparisons are also being drawn between President Biden and Hubert Humphrey. This snapshot from Google search results on June 3, 2021 illustrates just a few of the news and scholarly articles being written about the two men.

Local Concerns

Upheavals in Federal politics often trickle down to the local level. In 1964, the Board of County Commissioners sought ways to modernize the County’s voting process and increase citizen confidence. That year the County sent delegates from Elections and the Board to Bakersfield and Los Angeles to witness the use of voting and vote counting machines. The report back to the board reflected a desire to consider the same or similar machines in local elections for cost and time savings and improved accuracy. This excerpt from an August 5, 1964 Report on Trip to Los Angeles & Bakersfield contains Commissioner Mel Gordon’s assertion that a vote counting machine could “eliminate the need for recounts and would be far more reliable in the eyes of the public.”

Excerpt from report recommending the incorporation of electronic voting machines into the Multnomah County elections process.
August 5, 1964 Report on Trip to Los Angeles & Bakersfield. Multnomah County Archives, Portland, Oregon.

Trust in the political process remains suspect even today, as Multnomah County Elections works daily to ensure that all of Multnomah County’s residents are able to exercise their voting rights. 

In this inauguration year it is interesting to look back at the past and see how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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