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The government of the late 19th century was very inactive in meeting the needs of citizens. There were a number of weak presidents and Congress was both disorderly as well as ineffective. Campaigns were filled with bribery, fraud and character assassination. Voter turnout was at an all time high and resulted in a number of very close elections and an equal balance of power. As a result, several popular movements of protest sprung up that impacted key elections. One group, the Populists, turned dissatisfaction with the government into an important third party.

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Q: What were the social and institutional factors that shaped the disorderly nature of elections in the late ninteenth century?
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