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of men of whom any suspicion could exist ?-A. I did not receive any official communication, and none other than the copy which was sent by the bureau of inspection. The paper I have now here is the copy.
Q. Can you furnish the committee with a copy of that?-A. I will be glad to do so.
Q. What is the political complexion of the board of registrars?-A. It is at this time composed of one Republican and one Democrat; the term of the late member, Mr. Howard, having expired. Mr. Howard ranks as a Republican, but there are no politics in our office at all.
Q. Does the statute creating the board make it necessary that the members should be of different political parties ?-A. The statute does not, but custom does.
Q. Has the board been regarded as a political one!-A. No, sir. Q. How many names of voters or persons qualified to vote in the city of Boston appeared upon your lists prior to the election in November, 1878 !—A. The number of registered voters at the State election was 53,853. There were 47,890 votes polled, showing that about nine per cent. of the vote was not polled.
Q. What was the total number of polls or males over 21 years ?—A. 87,979.
Q. That is the total of males alone and does not include females owning property I-A. No, sir; these are assessed polls, not assessed tax-polls.
Q. (By Mr. McDONALD.) Does your law assess for a poll tax all males over the age of 21 years ?-A. All over twenty and without any limit as to age above that.
Q. (By Mr. BLAIR.) And without any limit as to nativity or naturalization -A. Yes, sir.
By Mr. McDONALD: Q. The citizen is required to pay that tax before be can vote?-A. He is obliged to pay a tax within two years, and this payment may be made at any time before the close of registration, which occurs fourteen days before the election. He can go to the assessor's office, pay his bill, have the bill receipted, and then come to our office (where the stamp upon the bill is taken as evidence) and have his name restored to the list, when be becomes a voter. You may judge how extensive that was at the last election, when out of the fifteen thousand at least ten thousand names had been omitted on account of the tax.
Q. At your November election, when members of Congress are voted for, your most important State officers are also voted for ?-A. Yes, sir; at what we call our State election we vote for governor, lieutenantgovernor, members of Congress, and members of the legislature.
Q. So that all these safeguards for the purity of the ballot-box and to secure a perfect registration of qualitied voters and none others which have been provided for your State elections apply.equally and alike to the qualifications of voters at elections of members of Congress and elections for State officers and members of the legislature ?-A. Yes, sir.
(The witness here proceeded, with the permission of the committee, to detail the process of qualifying a voter : first by means of the registration, and secondly in the matter of voting. Premising with a statement of the ordinary requirements of a residence of one year in the State and six months in the city, he continued :) We will suppose that the appli. cant is a young man who has just come of age. He appears at our office and as a pre-requisite, produces his tax bill. The first question put to him is, “ Have you voted before ?” He answers, “ I have not.” The usnal questions are then put : “Are you a native of the United States ?" " How old are you 3” 6 Can you read and write ?" His answers are made matters of record in our books. We then enter his name in a record book properly bound, inaking the entry at the place indicated for the ward and precinct and accompanying it with the number which belongs to his name upon the assessor's list. We then turn the book over to bim and have himn write bis name in the next column, also his age, birthplace, residence, and occupation. These are all put upon one line."
Q. He has, in fact, registered himself.-A. He has, in fact, registered himself. We then comply with the constitutional requirement that erery registered voter shall be able to read the constitution of the State of Massachusetts, and have a privted copy of it in proper form. As the applicant has demonstrated that he can write, the presumption is that he can read, but we are required to have actual evidence of the fact ; and whether he is a doctor of laws or of logic, a minister or a lawyer, the man must read to the registrar a certain clause in the constitution. This baving been done, we enter his pame upon our registry book exactly as he has written it, giving the page and the number of his name on the assessor's book as sbown by his tax bill, in order that we may trace him at any time. That is the process in the case of a native of the State, and it is the same as to citizens who have moved into this State from other States.
Q. It has been suggested here that parties may personate others who do not possess the educational qualifications to enable them to regis. ter.-A. I have no doubt that that was formerly done; I have strong doubts whether it is now feasible, and I am not aware of any case of that kind during last year. The establishment of this board of registrars dates only from the year 1874. Previous to that time, in this as in all other cities and towns of the commonwealth, the city clerks and selectmen exercised the privilege of preparing the lists of voters. The work was done with extreme carelessness and without that regard for its im. portance which would naturally arise with the growth of population. In the case of Boston, for instance, we have annexed in the last ten years the towns of Charlestown, Roxbury, Dorchester, West Roxbury, and Brighton, in all of which places (the people there knowing each other in a friendly way and not being very particular) there was always a great laxity in the method by which their voting.lists were perfected. Their lists came to us in the course of annexation. In fact, no one of those cases of disqualification to which our attention was called last year originated in our office.
Q. Had any of them originated from personating in the manner I bave suggested ?-A. I presume there were a very few that did. We had knowledge of several.
Q. If any such personation took place, the party personated would be obliged to have from your own registry all the qualifications for voting except the ability to read and write. . He would have to be registered at his real place, by his true name, with his exact number and in his particular ward, so that if he lacked any qualification at all it would be that of being able to write his name and read the Constitution ?-A. Yes, sir. I am not aware of a single instance of false personation of names. With your permission I will resume: Having described the manner of proceeding with new voters, I will now say something of the care with which we register the naturalized citizen. We of course make due allowance for his want of education. As a general thing, the most earnest of the applicants for citizenship are from among our foreign population. He appears and I ask him, “ Bernard, is this your tax paper ?” " It is.” “And your name is what ?" He repeats it. " This is your naturalization paper ? ” 6. Yes.” " Wbat is your pame?"-quick, without any chance of bis having had time to anticipate the question. " Where were you born? How old are you?” The facts as to those two questions we take from the naturalization paper which has been duly passed upon by the court, and as our questions are in the nature of a cross-examination, we have a right to judge from the paper whether the man is the one whom it represents. Proceeding, of course, as cour. teously as we kuow how, our duty being to give every citizen bis full rights, we ask, “ Bernard, can you read and write ?”. “Yes, sir; some." “Let me see if you can read this ?” Then we pass to him our printed constitution, and direct his attention to a paragraph. Perhaps he may spell one word, still he reads, and with care could read the whole. Having read that, we remark, “You read very well ; now, can you write ?" “ Yes, sir; some.” " I think you had better take a sheet of paper and let me see if you can write." So I give him a sheet of paper, and while I am attending to other registration, I let him write his naine. I see that he can write, and then turn to the book, aud the process goes right on with the entry of his number, page, precinct, &c., and then I write his name.
Q. (By Mr. BLAIR.) What is your statement-that you write his name because he cannot !-A. I write his name in this column (indicating); the next is for his signature. He then proceeds to write his name in the space assigned for it. I would be pleased if the committee would take the trouble to look at those books and observe the manner in which each is kept. Now these men may be charged with false registration because they do not write a very legible or very beautiful band, but there are many of our niost eminent men who cannot write very beautiful hands, nor quite as legibly as our poor laborers; consequently, that is not a disqualification. The earnestness with which those poor men tried to struggle to write their names in order to comply with the constitution was evidence to my mind that they were bona fide the real parties who were being registered. I think that previously there had been some cases of fraudulent representation in our office, but personally I have no knowledge of any single instance of fraud by parties through fraudulent representations of themselves or others.
The witness here explained that under the former system of voting by wards, in consequence of the overcrowded condition of some of the wards (particularly of ward 6 and ward 7, where there were many Irish laborers and others who had but little time to spare for voting on the election day and who, in their anxiety to vote, would gather in crowds in the ward rooms at the dinner hour), it became very difficult for the election inspector to keep his record of the voting with even comparative accuracy. These inspectors having been selected not by reasou of any special aptness for their places, but mainly because of their having been good politiciaus, the difficulty in the way of preserving a reliable record was thereby enhanced; the rapidity of the voting rendering it almost impossible for the officer, unless an expert bookkeeper, to check all the names as voted. The consequence was that, as to these overcrowded wards, charges were frequently made that the number of votes cast was in excess of the number of names checked ou the lists. In ward 6, the total of names on the voting list was 2,200, and with all the voters voting between the voting bours (from eight o'clock a. m. to four o'clock p. m.), the average rate of voting for the whole time would be four or five per minute, or, if intervals occurred, even as many as ten per minute.
The impossibility of preserving accuracy in the process of checking at the polls in such a case was manifest. To obviate the difficulty, the witness, after an investigation of the New York system, urged at the session of 1878 the enactment of a law, originally prepared by Mr. Chandler, providing among other things for a division of the twentyfive wards of the city into 106 voting precincts, with a warden, clerk, two inspectors, and one ballot-box for each precinct. This legislation was enacted in 1878. Under it, the mayorof the city appoints one Democrat and one Republican as the inspectors for each precinct, and it is their duty to take charge of the voting lists and jointly to scrutinize the inan proposing to vote.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.) That makes it compulsory upon the mayor to make the appointments from the different political parties 1-A. Yes, sir ; the result of this new arrangement has been to prevent any con. fusion in our wardrooms, and it has, I believe, given universal satisfaction to both parties.
By Mr. McDONALD: Q. Can you give the names of the State officers who were voted for at the election of 1878 1-A. No, sir; I have not the list here. It does not come within the purview of our office.
Q. The voting in this city is by ballot, and the names of the candi. dates and the offices for wbich they are being voted for are printed upon the ballot?—A. Yes, sir; the names may be written afterwards or chauged.
Q. Upon that same ballot are also printed the names of candidates for Congress who are voted for; in other words, the names of the State officers, candidates for the legislature, and candidates for Congress are all printed upon the same ticket and deposited in the ballot-box at one operation, are they not 1-A. Yes, sir; at one operation.
Q. You do not have ballot-boxes for State offices, county offices, and members of Congress separately, but you have but one ballot-box for all ballots and but one set of election officers, who scrutinize the voters and receive and count the ballots after the voting is over !—A. Yes, sir.
Q. I ask you whether the execution of the laws of the United States through the medium of supervisors of election and deputy marshals, acting in conjunction with the supervisors ju matters of the election, is necessary to secure in the city of Boston a free and fair election of members of Congress -A. No, sir; it is not.
Q. I ask you wbether in the practical workings of those laws, so far as you may know the fact, the election officers derive any real or sub. stantial benefit from the action of any of those Federal officers or not?A. We never had them until last year. Heretofore the supervisors were merely present at the election in each ward, not at the registration; they had nothing to do with the qualifications of voters, but were merely supervisors as to the number of votes and the character of the votes that were cast in the various wards.
Q. You say that in 1876 the supervisors took no cognizance whatever of the registration or of the purging of the registration ?-A. No, sir; they were only employed one day.
Q. And that was to see that the vote was received and counted afterwards !-A. They re-counted the votes after the wardens and inspectors had piled them out in piles of one hundred, going carefully over and scrutinizing them, and then made their owu statement. I see no objection ‘o that. I say that where the supervisors are joined with the city officials in the wards to that extent, their action is calculated to give confidence to the community. Formerly one Democrat and one Republican was appointed by the court for each of the twenty five wards; since the division into precincts, there has been a corresponding decrease in the number of ballots cast at each of the one hundred and six voting precincts, and therefore the ballots may be scrutinized with much greater ease than they could have been formerly. The inspectors appointed by the board of aldermen from both parties stand at each side of the ballot-box, and seem to answer erery purpose in the way of pre. venting fraud; therefore I do not think it would be essentially necessary that the United States officials should be present; but that is a matter for the committee to determine.
Q. As a matter of fact, your board of supervisors receive no practical aid or assistance from the United States officials ?-A. None at all.
Q. Aud at the election itself your State has all the requisite division of official force that is necessary to receive and count fairly the ballots that are cast at the elections ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. You say that, iu addition to that, each party has its own supervis. ion over the election by its challengers, &c., who are preseat as extraofficial, and for the purpose of watching ?-A. They are there by the statute law.
Q. They are there by anthority and for the purpose of watching ! A. Yes, sir; I will say that even with all the care and vigilance we can exercise we may make some error in the spelling of the name of an individual, in consequence of which the warden may refuse to receive the vote of that individual. In every such case the question is referred by the warden to me, and the correction is made by me or my associates, my custom being to remain at the office of the registrars for that parpose during the whole time for which the polls are open. Such was the correctness of our list at the election last year that of about fiftyfour thousand names there were but thirty-five errors, and not one voter was deprived of his right.
Q. The errors were corrected on the day of the election ?--A. Yes, sir; we have a right by law to make such corrections, and that duty we perform.
Q. The special supervisors who were present at the election polls on the day of the election for the purpose of scrutinizing and canvassing the vote canvass your State vote as well as the Congressional vote, do they not?-A. They naturally would, as the names of the candidates in each instance are upon the same ballot.
Q. Their scrutiny would extend to the one as well as the other ?-A. Yes, sir.
Tbe WITNESS (resuming bis description of the supervision of the voting lists) further stated that the election polls in the city of Boston were kept open from eight a. m. until four or four-and-a-half o'clock p m., these being the hours fixed by the board of aldermen; that the board of registrars have nothing to do with the ballot boxes or officers of the wards, their supervision being confined on the election day to the correc. tion of their own clerical errors, if any; that the voting lists, after baving been checked, are sealed up iminediately after the close of the polls and taken to the city clerk's office, where they remain for sixty days, when they are taken to the office of the board of registrars; that the purpose of the sixty days' detention is to keep them in statu quo in case any question arises as to the legality or number of the votes cast in any ward ; tbat upon their return to the registrars the lists are unsealed,