'The Way Americans Like to Do It': What Voting Looked Like in 1944

From a voting booth in small town California to a victory celebration in Times Square, the film celebrates American democracy in action. The U.S. Office of War Information produced the film in 1945, drawing on a dramatization of the voting process and archival footage of the 1944 presidential race to tell the story of the wartime election.

It begins in Riverton, California, a town that is ”not very large, not very rich, not very old.” In a sketch worthy of Norman Rockwell, the first to vote is the milkman. ”I always like to vote early — it gives the Republicans a temporary lead,” he announces cheerily. He’ll be on the losing side of history on this one, of course; Roosevelt will crush Dewey 432-99 in electoral votes. The real winners, though, were the kids whose school closed for the day to become a polling station — an official holiday at the time in California, apparently.