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Elections

Democracy

No, Abraham Lincoln was not 'barred from the ballot' in Southern states in 1860

The Colorado Supreme Court's ruling on Trump has triggered a wave of false claims about Lincoln's election. Here's what actually happened.

Simon Abeta/X, Public Domain

People are claiming Lincoln was taken off the ballot in the slaveholding states, but that's not what happened.

In a ruling on December 19, 2023, the Colorado Supreme Court declared former president Donald Trump ineligible to be included on the state's primary ballot, citing the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause. The ruling prompted a wave of responses, some of which claim that Abraham Lincoln had been "barred from the ballot" or "taken off the ballot" by Democrats in 10 Southern slaveholding states in the 1860 election, which preceded the Civil War.

Unfortunately, thousands of people have "liked" and shared claims like this one:

It's unfortunate because it's false. While it's true that no ballots were distributed or cast for Lincoln in those states, it wasn't because he was barred, banned or taken off the ballot.

Here's why this claim is inaccurate:

First of all, there was no such thing as "the ballot" in 1860.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe is the subject of the documentary, "A Run for More."

When we think about elections, so many of us focus on presidential elections and forget about congressional, statewide or even smaller, local elections. The documentary film, “A Run for More,” focuses on Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe as she runs for one of those local positions—city council member in San Antonio, Texas. Focusing on Gonzales-Wolfe as the first openly transgender woman to run for such office, the film shows how the campaign gave Gonzales-Wolfe a deeper sense of self. I was lucky enough to chat with her and the film’s director, Ray Whitehouse, about their friendship, the campaign, making the film and Frankie’s future political plans.

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