Voting and Election History

Find results of past federal elections. Learn how voting methods and voter habits have changed over the years.

Results of Past Federal Elections

You can find the results of past federal elections from several government sources.

Federal Election Commission Resources

Every two years, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) releases the official results from each state’s federal elections. The information covers elections from 1982 to 2016 and includes primary, runoff, and general election results for:

  • U.S. Senate
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • U.S. president (for years when there is a presidential election)

National Archives Resources

You can find the details of the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections and counts for electoral college votes versus popular votes on the National Archives and Records Administration's Historical Election Results page. And you can see the "box scores" for all elections from 1789 to 2016.

House of Representatives Resources

Find the statistics from every federal election from 1920 through 2016 from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. The results, in PDF format, are organized by state and include Washington D.C. and the U.S. territories. They show the official vote counts for every candidate for president, senator, and U.S. representative.

History of Voting in America

The history of voting in America may bring to mind images of the Civil Rights era or the women’s suffrage movement. It may call up the Constitutional amendments that helped remove barriers to voting. But the story is not only about laws and protests.

How Voting and Elections Have Changed

Technology has modernized voting and ballot counting over the years. Early voters used wooden ballot boxes. Later, people began using punch cards and curtained-off mechanical voting machines. Modern methods include touch-screens and optical scan ballots. Modern voting methods have for the most part eliminated vote-counting by hand. But in some very close races, recounts are still performed manually.  

Changes for Convenience and Accessibility 

Voting has become easier for people who can't vote in person on Election Day. Absentee voting lets people who can't reach their polling place vote by mail. Early voting lets people vote days or weeks before Election Day. Voter accessibility laws require polling places to have wheelchair access and other accommodations. Some places even offer "curbside voting" or transportation to the polls.

 Since states run elections, the procedures and technologies vary from place to place. Contact your state or local election office for questions about voting methods and accessibility.

Explore how voting methods in the U.S. have changed. Check out Vote: The Machinery of Democracy, a Smithsonian Institution interactive exhibit online.

Americans’ Voting Habits

Demographics play a huge part in how America votes. You can learn about who votes in federal elections with U.S. Census Bureau information.

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Last Updated: December 18, 2018