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Pioneer U.S. voting analyst Gans dies at 77

Gans organized the "Dump Johnson Movement" in 1967, feeling the president's administration was on the wrong track in Vietnam.

By Doug G. Ware
Curtis Gans, a leading expert on voter turnout and politics, died on March 15, 2015 in Frederick, Md., family members said. Photo: U.S. State Department
Curtis Gans, a leading expert on voter turnout and politics, died on March 15, 2015 in Frederick, Md., family members said. Photo: U.S. State Department

FREDERICK, Md., March 16 (UPI) -- Curtis Gans, a foremost expert and pioneer of modern American voting analysis, died at a Frederick, Md. hospital Sunday at the age of 77, his family announced.

Aaron Gans, his only son, reportedly said his father had been battling lung cancer.

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The founder of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE) at American University, Gans began to study contemporary U.S. politics and the election process in the 1960s and gained national recognition in 1967 when he began what ultimately became known as the Dump Johnson Movement.

With former congressman Allard K. Lowenstein, Gans rallied members of the Democratic party to oppose the 1968 re-election of President Lyndon B. Johnson -- who they believed at the time was leading the United States further into the unpopular Vietnam War. As part of his efforts, Gans worked for former Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who was the first Democrat to formally challenge Johnson for the nomination.

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In the years that followed, Gans formed the CSAE, which furnished data and analysis of voter turnout in elections -- a method that greatly contributed to modern electoral analysis, like exit polling. He often contributed to various newspapers and authored a book, "Voter Turnout in the United States: 1789-2009." Gans provided an analysis last July for the Los Angeles Times regarding low voter turnout.

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"It presents a danger to our society insofar as democracy does thrive on the consent and involvement of the governed," Gans said at the time, providing commentary as he often did on civic involvement and its significance.

Gans was sometimes called on by the U.S. State Department's Foreign Press Center to brief foreign reporters in the run-up to elections.

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Gans also served in an advisory role for multiple political panels and worked on several campaigns.

In addition to being an anti-war activist, Gans was also a civil rights advocate. In the 1960s, he participated in a sit-in at a North Carolina department store and the famous 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, which was the focus of the 2014 Oscar nominated film, Selma.

Before becoming involved in politics, Gans was a journalist. In the early 1960s, he worked as a reporter for the Miami News and United Press International. He attended the University of North Carolina.

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