The Vote in Words and Pictures

 

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Home >> Special Collections & University Archives >> New Notable >> The Vote in Words and Pictures
Cover art for Your Vote is Vital

A healthy democracy requires active participation. According to the United States Census Bureau, “In every presidential election since 1964, young voters between the ages of 18 through 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups” and have demonstrated “less engagement over time.” In the 2012 Presidential Election, only 61.8% of all eligible U.S. citizens voted. Eligibility includes citizenship, age, court-determined mental competency and criminal past or imprisonment status, which varies by state. When other eligibility factors are removed, Census data shows that only 56% of all people 18 and older in the United States cast ballots in 2012. More women vote than men, and those 65 and older are registering to vote at a faster growing rate compared to younger people (followed by those ages 45-64). In 2012, 45% of age-eligible citizens between 18-29 years old voted (in California, it was down to 43.7%) and only 59.5% of eligible voters between the ages of 30-44 made their voices heard. The most common reason cited for not registering to vote is disinterest in politics. (See ‘Further Reading’ at the end of this post for more information and citations).

November is Coming! And this year, with it comes another national election in the United States. We thought it would be fun to raise awareness about our democratic system by taking a look at some comic books that explore democracy and voting in the United States. In no particular order…

Cover art for Constitution IllustratedPanel from Constitution Illustrated showing Amendment XIX

Constitution Illustrated
R. Sikoryak (Author-Illustrator)
Drawn & Quarterly, 2020
It’s exactly as titled: The U.S. Constitution, illustrated! Incorporating iconic comic book characters, the author distells the complexities of the Constitution in a succinct and memorable format.

American Politics: A Graphic History 
Laura Locker (Author) and Julia Scheele (Illustrator)
Icon Books Ltd, 2018
Follows modern citizens as they explore everything from the United States' political culture, the Constitution and the balance of power, to social movements, the role of the media, and tensions over race, immigration, and LGBTQ+ rights.

PSA comic called “Binky’s Special Election Exhibit” in Strange Adventures #74

“Binky’s Special Election Exhibit”
In Strange Adventures #74 (DC Comics, 1956)
Public Service Announcements were commonly published in Golden Age Comics (1938-1956). This one focuses on ways teenagers can get involved to help voters, and points out that 37% of all eligible voters failed to do so in 1952. Sadly, that percentage jumped to approximately 44% in 2012.

Cover art for Your Vote is Vital

Your Vote is Vital 
Harvey Comics, 1952 (view online
*Reprinted in Voting is Your Super Power
This special issue comic book includes information on how to register, how to pick a candidate and how to vote.

Cover art for Drawing the Vote Panel from Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America, that discusses why every vote matters

Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America
Tommy Jenkins (Author) and Kati Lacker (Illustrator)
Abrams ComicArts, 2020
Explores the history of voting in the United States and how it affects the way we vote today. Did you know only one-third of eligible young people vote?

Cover art for Voting is Your Super Power

Voting is Your Super Power
Craig Yoe (Editor)
Clover Press, 2020
This collectible edition brings together historic comic books meant to rally the vote.

Cover art for THIS is What Democracy Looks Like: A Graphic Guide to Governance

THIS is What Democracy Looks Like: A Graphic Guide to Governance
The Center for Cartoon Studies, 2019
Intended for teens, this comic explains democracy and how it works in hopes of preparing students to be “empowered, informed, and civic-minded.”

Cover art for The Man Who Stole Your Vote

The Man Who Stole Your Vote (view online)
Rick Hackney (Author)
National Research Bureau, 1952
*Reprinted in Voting is Your Super Power
This U.S. Government informational comic encourages everyone to vote, making the point that when you do not vote, you leave decisions about your future and the future of this country to others who did. Released in the 1950s, this point holds just as true today.

Cover art for An American Family Gets Out the Vote

An American Family Gets Out the Vote
American Heritage Foundation
Vital Publications, 1956
*Reprinted in Voting is Your Super Power

Cover art for The Next Four Years

The Next Four Years (view online)
Part of the "Good Government Comic Book" series published in the 1950s. 
This comic book encourages voters to think of how their votes can change lives for everyone in the future.

Cover art for If Your Kids Could Vote

If Your Kids Could Vote (view online)
Part of the "Good Government Comic Book" series published in the 1950s.
Think of the children and vote! Because “good government is everyone’s business.”

Cover art for Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy

Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy (World Citizen Comics)
Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson (Authors); Ally Shwed (Illustrator)
First Second, 2020
"In 1787, after 116 days of heated debates and bitter arguments, the United States Constitution
was created. This imperfect document set forth America’s guiding principles, but it would also
introduce some of today's most contentious political issues―from gerrymandering, to the
Electoral College, to presidential impeachment."

Cover art for Fault Lines in the Constitution

Fault Lines in the Constitution (World Citizen Comics)
Daniel G. Newman (Author) and George O’Connor (Artist
First Second, 2020
Explores the role wealth and influence play in American democracy.

Cover art for Political Elections

Political Elections 
Davis Worth Miller and Katherine McLean Brevard (Authors; Charles Barnett, III. (Illustrator)
Capstone Press, 2008
Reading level : 9 - 12 years
This comic explains the history of voting rights and the function of political elections in the United States.

Cover art for Democracy

Democracy
Liam O'Donnell (Author) and Patricia Storms (Illustrator)
Capstone Press, 2008 
Reading level : 9 - 12 years
This comic explains the American political system.

Cover art for Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for Their Rights

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for Their Rights
Mikki Kendall (Author) and A. D'Amico (Illustrator)
Ten Speed Press, 2019
Reading level: 12 - 17 years
This comic explores the key figures and events that have advanced women's rights from antiquity to the modern era, including the right to vote.

Panel from Susan B. Anthony: Champion for Voting Rights! showing the gathering of the 11th National Women's Rights ConventionPanel from Susan B. Anthony: Champion for Voting Rights! showing women registering to vote for the first time

Susan B. Anthony: Champion for Voting Rights! 
Mark Shulman (Author) and Kelly Tindall (Illustrator)
Portable Press, 2020
Reading level: 8 - 12 years
This graphic biography shares the story of Susan B. Anthony, who helped pave the way for women seeking the right to vote.

Cover art for History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote

History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote 
Kate Messner (Author) and Dylan Meconis (Illustrator)
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020
Reading level: 8 - 12 years
Explores the little-known details behind the fight for women's suffrage, and the struggle of millions of women to champion the amendment into law.

Cover art for March Book Three

March: Book Three
John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (Authors); Nate Powell (Illustrator)
Top Shelf Productions, 2016
The third book in Congressman John Lewis’ March trilogy highlights the movement to give unfettered voting rights to all people,  including depictions of the 1963 Freedom Ballot and Mississippi Freedom Summer, which protested the exclusion of black voters through poll taxes and cumbersome questionnaires. 

Cover art for Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel

Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel
Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin (Authors); Kyle Baker (Illustrator)
Publication: New York : Crown Publishers, 2004
A highly satirical look at American politics.

Cover art for Act, showing a young person casting their vote for a school election

Act
Kayla Miller, Author-Illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020
Reading level: 8 - 12 years
Fiction. A sixth-grader runs for class president to help combat social injustice. The comic poses this question: How do you know when the person who can make the difference . . . is you?

 

"Further Reading"

Characteristics of Voters in the Presidential Election of 2016 Population Characteristics, Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau 

Young-Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964–2012, Population Characteristics, U.S. Census Bureau 

https://www.rockthevote.org/

For more information about comics at SDSU, check out our Comic Arts Research Guide. All titles are available in SDSU's Special Collections & University Archives.
 
[Written by Pamela Jackson]
Cover art for Act, showing a young person casting their vote for a school election
Cover art for Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for Their Rights
Cover art for American Politics: A Graphic History
Cover art for An American Family Gets Out the Vote
Cover art for Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel
Cover art for Constitution Illustrated
Panel from Constitution Illustrated showing Amendment XIX
Cover art for Democracy
Cover art for Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America
Panel from Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America, showing data on low voter turnout
Panel from Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America, that discusses why every vote matters
Cover art for History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote
Cover art for If Your Kids Could Vote
Cover art for The Man Who Stole Your Vote
Cover art for March: Book Three
Cover art for The Next Four Years
Cover art for Political Elections
PSA comic called “Binky’s Special Election Exhibit” in Strange Adventures #74
Cover art for Susan B. Anthony: Champion for Voting Rights!
Panel from Susan B. Anthony: Champion for Voting Rights! showing the gathering of the 11th National Women's Rights Convention
Panel from Susan B. Anthony: Champion for Voting Rights! showing women registering to vote for the first time
Cover art for Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy
Cover art for Voting is Your Super Power
Cover art for Your Vote is Vital
Cover art for THIS is What Democracy Looks Like: A Graphic Guide to Governance
Cover art for Fault Lines in the Constitution

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