If you think the attack ads of the 2010 election have been rough, just think back to what happened during some of the first elections in this country, when just casting a ballot could invite a violent attack. Back in 1859, a Baltimore merchant was beaten, stabbed and shot as he was heading to the polls with his ballot tucked under his arm (back then, everyone had to bring their own ballot with them). He survived, but wasn’t able to cast his vote and his candidate lost. Congress ruled the election valid, because any “man of ordinary courage” could have made his way to the polls. On this election day, we revisit our 2008 conversation with New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore on the history of voting in America.