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crat that he had found a traitor among the ized, how carefully each vote is watched, and Republicans, his influence, his price, etc., and some few of the many plans adopted to weaken at length his name. “Sh—," said the manager, the enemy. In many cases voters who can be lifting his finger. "Keep away from him ; he's bought beforehand are kept in custody for a my man. I got him last year.” A little ques- day or two before election, then taken to the tioning brought out all the facts, which were polls, and voted. In one case, in Indiana, a duly reported to Dr. C-He, in turn, called man kept a half-idiot who was working for him on his Republican co-laborer of the year be- shut up in his cellar for some days before an fore, and, by his knowledge of facts, forced from election, to prevent the opposing party from him a humiliating, in fact, tearful confession, capturing and treating him in the same way. and a restitution of the money. Finally, when Then, on election morning, with a man on each it was evident that the lightning-rod agent could side to guard him, he was marched to the polls be used no longer, the doctor told him that he with a prepared ticket in his hands, and voted. thought he had better leave the county; that In 1888, in another county of the same State, he should go to the Democratic manager and six “ floaters ” were kept under guard in an upget a suit of clothes for the services that he could stairs office over night, the next morning taken render the Democrats in that campaign. He down, marched to the polls under guard, voted, went, and received a suit. On election day he brought back to the office, and $96 paid to appeared in his new suit of clothes; and tak- 'their leader — $16 apiece. How the money ing the Republican ticket in his hand, made was divided among them only the leader knew. a speech to the Democrats, announced his con- The owner of the office is an intelligent, honversion to Republican principles, voted the Re- est, patriotic, Christian citizen, who detests the publican ticket, and left the polls and the county, whole system, but who says that he cannot sit never to return. Some time after, the Demo- still and see the enemy win by such methods. cratic manager, Mr. A-, a thoroughly up- He favors any law that will stop the custom right, trustworthy, honorable man in all matters in both parties, even though it should be to not connected with political campaigns, meet- the disadvantage of his own. ing Dr. C-, remarked, after referring to the In a small city in Michigan a friend of mine lightning-rod agent, “Dr.C—, I believe you saw two “ floaters” go back and forth across are the
villain that ever lived ”; a remark the street several times between a Republican which Dr. C- took, quietly smiling, without and a Democratic worker. The first bid was comment. Of course the news of the agent's a dollar, and the bids were increased a dollar treachery gave rise to the belief that in some at a time. The men finally voted at $7. In way Mr. G— had been betrayed; but the one of the eastern counties of New York, some details of the plot were known only to the agent years ago, a good church deacon and his son and Dr.C—, and Dr. C— has, presumably, received $40 each for their votes from a mannever told the story to any except reliable, ager of their own party to keep them from deintimate Republican friends.
serting to the enemy. That year, in that district, I know of an instance in Michigan where a a strongly Republican one for many years, the very skilful Republican ward“ worker” has kept Democrats nominated a very wealthy man for a Democrat in his pay for years. Through him Congress with the hope of winning. The manhe is kept informed of the enemy's plans; helps agement of the election was put into the hands pack the Democratic caucuses to Republican of a man who, up to that date, had been an advantage — an excellent trick, he thinks; buys active Republican; but his services had not votes to better effect, etc. Doubtless such in- been rewarded. The Democratic candidate stances are not very common.
is said to have spent $190.000. This seems To demoralize the Democrats, in one con- beyond belief; but it is certain that the Demogressional district in a Western State, in 1888, crats won, that the campaign is still rememthe Republican candidate paid a man $600 bered for its unheard-of extravagance in voteand expenses, some $1500 in all, to run as buying, and that the corrupting influence of a Labor candidate, and thus draw part of the that campaign of some years ago is still felt Democratic vote. After getting the money, the in the district. Labor candidate is said by the Republican In another Western State, the night before managers to have sold out to the Democrats, election, the Democrats had several “floaters” though my information on that point is not corraled in a small hotel and plentifully supentirely trustworthy.
plied with whisky. During the night the building was set on fire; and as the “Hoaters”
escaped from the flames, most of them were HOW VOTES ARE BOUGHT.
captured by Republican “workers," run in for And now, how are the voters bought? I have the night, and voted as Republicans the next shown how thoroughly each district is organ- day. Two theories as to the origin of the fire
have been offered: one that the stove was up- buying depends, of course, very largely upon set by the drunken “floaters ”; the other, that the locality, and upon the circumstances in the building was set on fire by the Republican each case. Where a district is strongly Repubworkers.
lican or Democratic, and there is little likeliIn one of the eastern counties of New York hood of defeat for the more prominent party, State, Mr. L—, a local Democratic politi- there is little necessity for vote-buying, and cian, had a bull for sale. The day before the little is done. In a city of some 15,000 inelection of 1888 a farmer came to buy the habitants in the State of Illinois in the cambull. The price asked was $20, the amount paign of 1888, money for the direct purchase offered was $15; no sale was made. The next of votes was furnished to only two wards, and day — was at the polls looking out for $125 only was put into the worst ward-i.e., votes. The farmer, with his two sons, all of the one having the most purchasable voteswhom commonly voted the Democratic ticket, by the party having the most money. In most inquired how much he was paying for votes. of the wards three or four “workers" were paid He told him $5 apiece. The man went away for their day's labor at the polls, at $2 apiece; to see the Republican “workers,” and soon and a few, mostly colored men, were hired to returned, saying that he had been offered $6 drive carriages to bring voters to the polls. each, making $18 in all. L- considered a In this way eight or ten votes, possibly, at moment, and then said: “Well, you take these' each polling-place were made secure. But in three ballots and go and vote them, and to- one or two of the wards not even “workers" at morrow come and get the bull.” “So," as my the polls were paid for their time; all was volinformant tells me, “the honest farmer and his untary. This paying of “workers” is almost two sons took the ballots, and went, and voted universally found. for the bull.” L-transferred $20 from the I have spoken of one county in another election pocket to his private pocket, and the State in which, in that same campaign, $7000 double transaction was complete.
was spent by one party, mostly in vote-buying. In Albany County, New York, a number In thatcounty is one township, the most corrupt of years ago, one of the Republican candi- that my attention has ever been called to. I have dates prepared some tickets to be given to the been assured by thoroughly trustworthy infor"floaters" who were purchased for him. On mants from both parties, members of the county the presentation of these tickets, they were to committees, that in that township of some two receive the sum stipulated. Some of the Demo- hundred voters there is not one thoroughly incratic committee learned of the plan, secured corruptible vote. The Democratic managers one of the tickets, and then forged enough for have not one vote of which they are entirely their own use. During the day they bought sure; and while there are some Republicans voters freely for their own party, and paid who cannot be bribed by the Democrats, there them in tickets which were sent to the Repub- is not a single Republican voter in the townlican candidate to cash. He redeemed tickets ship who does not demand pay for his time on all day, and toward the close of the polls, voting day. Under the new ballot law of Indicounting up his tickets, and believing himself ana, each county campaign committee has to elected by a large majority, offered to bet a select for each precinct an election judge and round sum as to the size of his majority. When an election clerk, residents of the precinct. the polls were closed, however, and the votes In 1890 the Democratic committee had no were counted, he was found to be defeated, men in that township whom they could thorhis tickets having been used to too good ad- oughly trust to fill these offices. They feared vantage by the Democrats. In many localities that any whom they could appoint would be little money goes directly to the voters. It is bought by the Republicans. However, they paid to men of influence to use in treating, made the best selections that they could; but etc., or simply to get them to coerce laborers on election day, in the afternoon, the feeling or to influence friends.
of distrust was so great that the candidate for These instances that I have given are typi- district judge drove some miles in order to cal, although in certain respects they may be be on the ground, and by his presence bring considered extreme, and in these forms are, what pressure he could to bear upon the Demoperhaps, not very common.
cratic election judge and election clerk.
A man who knows assures me that there is
one township in eastern New York, containing HOW PREVALENT IS VOTE-BUYING ?
about four hundred voters, in which not more AFTER all, the vital question is, How preva- than thirty voters are entirely beyond reach of lent is this custom of cheating and of purchas- the money influence. Of course these are exing votes, and what possibility is there of re- treme cases; but it is nevertheless true that form ? The prevalence of the custom of vote- the proportion of voters who are subject to money influence is very great. I have had es- campaign. The day after election even, a man timates given me many times by men whose came to him and asked him for two dollars, knowledge is based upon experience, and I saying that he had bought two votes for him find that the localities are not very uncommon the day before for a dollar each without inwhere from ten to thirty-five per cent. of the structions, and he would like to have the money voters are purchasable. In one county in New refunded. He, too, was referred to the commitYork, in which, perhaps, the Mugwump vote teeman, though he was doubtless lying with refis larger in proportion to the total vote than in erence to the purchase of votes. In these cases, any other county in the State, and in which the the men evidently had little feeling of guilt for largest city has only some 12,000 inhabitants, vote-selling, and this seems to be the general tesabout twenty per cent of the voters were pur- timony regarding the lower class of “floaters." chased in 1888. Perhaps I need not add that the voters purchased included none of those counted as Mugwumps.
CAUSES OF CORRUPTION. In Michigan, in one of the best and wealth- BEFORE we can find remedies for the coriest wards of a city of some 15,000 inhabitants, ruption of the ballot it will be necessary to look the ward manager tells me that he pays about somewhat carefully into the causes of the corfive per cent. of the voters. His price has never ruption. It is not sufficient to say that the gone above five dollars, and he usually pays corruption is due to the party spirit of the time, only one or two dollars. Though he has to pay or to our form of ballot, or to any other one some voters of his own party, he never gives or more of such external causes; the causes them more than two or three dollars, and usu- lie deeper than that. In the first place, so long ally only one dollar.
as we have, practically, universal suffrage, we The evil is not confined to the cities, nor to shall always find many voters who are ready to any one State. The probability is, that, all cast their votes not from principle, but for their things considered, in such a State as that of own pecuniary interest, though this number is New York, the farmers are as corrupt as the smaller than many think. A large part of the residents of the cities. It is said to be not an “commercials” are paid to vote as they would uncommon thing in New York State for a vote without bribery. Not till the millennium farmer to drive in to the polls with his sons and comes can we expect these most selfish voters hired help, and virtually auction off the lot to to refuse to sell their votes, if the opportunity the highest bidder. In California, an eye-wit- offers. We must in some way make it for the ness tells me that he has seen fifty votes offered interests of the party managers not to attempt in a lump by one leader, though, in the special to buy. But, on the other hand, whenever an case mentioned, little was at stake in the elec- election is close, and “floaters” stand about, tion; no bidders were found, and the men (Grea- waiting for bids, the temptation is so great for sers) finally withdrew late in the afternoon with party managers to buy, in order to secure the out voting at all.
election of their candidates, that we need not expect the practice to stop, unless in some way,
as said above, we can make the advantage to THE EFFECT OF VOTE-BUYING ON THE VOTERS.
be gained from honesty greater than that to be PERHAPS the chief danger to the State from gained from dishonesty. At the present time, this corruption is that where vote-buying has be- under our present laws, the prize is so great and come common, the habit has so permeated the the risk so slight, that corruption is sure to be lower class of voters that the thought of cor- found in almost every close district. ruption or of wrong-doing does not enter the At the present time, many a man who will not minds of many. They feel that they have some- sell his vote to the opposite party will neverthing to sell which is valuable to the candidate; theless ask pay for his time on election day. and they sell their vote to the candidate with From this receipt of his expenses in bringing almost as little sense of guilt as they sell their himself and his workmen to the polls, bribery potatoes to the grocer or their labor to their is made easy. The man feels that he is not sellemployer.
ing his vote; he was expecting to vote his party In a small city in Michigan, in a single elec- ticket at any rate. But after he has gone thus tion for alderman, caused by the resignation of far a number of times he loses sight of the real the former holder of the office, in the wealthiest purpose for which he is voting, and the ballot and most respectable ward in the city, a friend seems to be cast for the good,
not of the counof mine was a candidate. On the day of elec- try, but of the candidate. If the candidate tion an acquaintance came to him, said that he is to be benefited, why should he not pay wanted to vote for him, and asked him for a dol- for the benefit? He can afford it. Not a few lar or two. The candidate referred him to a men, seeing money going freely into the pockcommitteeman who, he said, was managing the ets of "floaters," say to the managers: “If money is so plentiful, why should the scoun- up and dodge the issues of a campaign are to drels get it all ? Let us honest partymen have blame rather than the Mugwump. our share. Our votes are worth just as much to the candidates."
REMEDIES. In classes of university students, containing from ten to twenty voters, more than once I A LARGE proportion of our States have introhave found several,- from five to ten,-- who duced ballot-reform laws to secure the secrecy had received from campaign managers their of the ballot, and thus, as it is thought, to do expenses home from college to cast their votes. away with vote-buying; but it will be found These students were by no means common that the remedy, while helpful, is not sufficient. “floaters”; their votes could not be directly In the State of New York, in the last election, purchased at all. But still, on first considera- under the new ballot law, which, while not pertion, many of them defend the payment of ex- fect, still secures the secrecy of the ballot, votepenses of voters by their own party, when they buying was open and unrebuked in some places, are unable to pay them themselves, not real- though it was far less common, on the whole, izing that this is but a covert form of bribery, than before the law was passed. In one preand that, after receiving expenses, one would cinct of one of the cities of the State, in the not feel at liberty to vote independently. If election of 1891, vote-buying was so common people as intelligent and honest as are college that, counting the expenses of both parties, an students of voting age will thus thoughtlessly amount equal to six dollars for every registered encourage corrupt methods of voting, what voter was paid. The managers, too, had a surmay we expect from the “floater" ?
plus on hand after the election. Another cause that has conduced to the cor- The ballot law did part of its work well. ruption of voters is the lack of distinct issues The voter who wished to cast an independent between the parties. When party feeling is very ballot, but who, under the former law would strong, as in our country at the time of the have been intimidated, under the present law Civil War, when most of the masses feel that entered the booth, prepared his ballot in secret, upon the success of their party depends the ex- and voted as he wished. So, too, the man who istence of their country, votes will not be so wished to be known as a party man, but who readily sold; relatively speaking, only here and still wished to split his ticket, being compelled there will be found a man whose vote is pur- to prepare his ballot in secret, voted more inchasable. But when the issues between the dependently. parties are not sharply drawn, when a man But the commercial” voter and the ward feels that either party's success is of slight con- “boss” will still at times evade the law. Many sequence, it is much easier to secure his vote a man who will sell his vote, not fully appreby purchase without any consciousness on his ciating the enormity of the offense, is still honpart of corruption.
est enough to vote as he has agreed to vote, Without going deeply enough to see the prin- especially when he is paid by the party that he ciple that underlies the practice, party managers calls his own. Party managers know their men, not infrequently declare that the independent and in many cases can, with a reasonable asvoter in good part is responsible for bribery. surance of success, buy a vote and trust that It is said that when party lines are sharply it will be cast as agreed upon; but when party drawn the voter will not betray his party, but managers on both sides stand ready to buy, the that when, through the action of independent law will not always be enforced. In some places voters, independent voting has become not in New York, in the State election of 1891, merely respectable, but on the whole a mark men pleaded physical disability on account of of the educated, intelligent class, why should headache or other trifling imaginary ailments, not the ignorant voter feel free and proud to and in that way obtained permission to take cut loose from his party and vote as he will? with them into the booth to prepare their It is a mark of spirit and intelligence. The ballots their “friend" — the vote-buyer of the intelligent voter, the Mugwump, votes from ward. As soon as the managers on one side principle; the ignorant“float" votes for his own saw that the others were evading the law, it advantage, being often too ignorant to distin- was much easier and more natural for them to guish the difference. The argument is used to evade the law also, than to attempt to get their discourage independent voting. There is some rights after the election was lost, by long and force, doubtless, in the ingenious plea for party doubtful appeal to the courts. So it came about, fealty, but the real causes of independent vo- in some places, that at times two and three ting are of course overlooked in such an argu- men entered the booth together, little attempt ment, and the remedy is to be found rather in being made to enforce the law where any one making distinct issues than in voting with one wished to evade it; and vote-buying was alparty always. The party managers that cover most as common as of old. It was not the
form of the ballot or the paster ballot that in each party practically compel such action in brought about these results; with the blanket any rural county or in any small city, if they ballot the same thing might have happened. had the will and courage to make a stand? It is the corruption system as a whole that Each of them would need to be as ready to has not only stultified the consciences of the prosecute men in his own party as in that of buyers and the bought, but has hoodwinked his opponents. But of course such men are and discouraged citizens who for love of coun- rarely found. try ought to have seen that the law was en- How difficult it is, though, for the average forced. The patriotism of men who stand idly politician to forego a possible advantage for by and see such fraudulent practices may well the sake of honest principles was shown not be questioned. The man who shields a thief long ago in a city election in the State of New or a burglar is a criminal, and may be prose- York. The committees had agreed to use no cuted for compounding felony. How is he money on either side, and had instructed the different morally from the man who winks at ward“ workers ” to that effect. When, however, corruption of the ballot? Is not that a dan- later in the day, the “commercials,” who were gerous crime against the state?
hanging around waiting for a possible purI was discussing lately the merits of the new chase, became plentiful, the temptation beballot law of Michigan, before the first election in came too great for one worker." He had that State under the law, with a ward“worker,” agreed to use no money, but whisky had not a good, shrewd business man, who is in politics, been specified; so he supplied himself with a not for money or office, but for the excitement number of bottles of that, and began to run the and love of the game. He is a sporting man voters in. Of course the opposite party soon by nature. He has managed his ward for years discovered the trick, complaint was made, and with great success. The thought of honestly the illicit traffic stopped; but the breaking of obeying the new law did not seem to enter his faith that day has since prevented so honormind. His only talk was of methods of evad- able an agreement. ing it. When at length I suggested that it This seems allied to another case in Michigan, might pay to obey it, and to insist upon the where the candidate, knowing that he could opposite party doing the same, he declared that not directly buy some of his opponent's voters, they could not be trusted; that under an hon- supplied an ally with money to treat them so est election they would have the advantage, freely that they became dead drunk and unfor he could outwit them in vote-buying; and able to vote at all; thus, as he said to me, then, he feared, pathetically, that these new “ killing them off for the day.” One of them laws were going to take half the fun and excite- might well have been killed for a longer period; ment out of politics anyway, and he would pre- for, as the candidate went home, he saw one vent their action as long as he could.
of his victims lying in the snow and slush beA registration law that prevents the impor- side the gutter, on a cold, raw day, when such tation of voters is good. A ballot law that gives an experience could hardly result in less than the timid party man an opportunity to vote in a severe illness. secret as he will, and that prevents intimidation, The New York law providing for a sworn is also good, but we need still something more. return of the amount of money expended by
The politicians are sometimes averse to the candidate, though good, as it stands alone, vote-buying, and at times will themselves stop is of course of little influence; for the candiit. In one township in Indiana, in 1886, the dates pay large sums to campaign committees leaders of both parties, who had fought one that are irresponsible. Even this law has been another for years, who knew one another's evaded in many instances, and party managers methods, and how best to check them, agreed say that a majority of candidates in some places to do no vote-buying. Unable to trust one have perjured themselves in making their reanother, they met the night before election, turns. It has doubtless, however, had some good and were paired off for work at the polls on influence, and more legislation along this line election day; no man in either party who had would be productive of still greater benefit. It been accustomed to vote-buying was permitted seems very desirable that a law of this kind to speak to a “floater” during the day; no man should be comprehensive, and so explicit in its was left a moment alone, unaccompanied by a provisions that a violation could be readily watcher from the other party. Vote-buying in detected. There can be no doubt that before that town for that day was suppressed, only the passage of the Corrupt Practices Acts in one vote on either side having been secured England bribery was as great an evil there as by unfair means. But instances of this kind it has ever been here, and that the methods of are exceedingly rare, and in the present con- evading the first laws were as ingenious and dition of public opinion cannot be counted technical as any used here to steal a senate or upon. And yet, could not five prominent men to capture a presidency. All the halls in a town