Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

think that he is a good fellow and does not tell a long story.-A. There are very few of whom we require proof.

Q. I understand that under the law as it is you may require a man to make his statement under penalty?-A. A statute law requiring that all persons shall be sworn would cover it.

Q. The statute law dces now require it, in your discretion ?-A. Where we bave any doubt, it does.

Q. Of course in the great mass of cases you would be all right; but is there not a looseness of practice in the law itself, and a looseness in the terms of the law itself, by reason of which you are liable to great abuses where you bare the applications of men who fraudulently possess naturalization papers! -A. Certainly, as there may be also in the cases of native citizens who possess tax papers.

Q. But the tax paper is extraneous evidence as to which you do not require proof. I suppose that, with your very extensive acquaintance with the operation of the suffrage laws of the country, you are, of course, aware that the most gigantic frauds against the laws of the country have grown out of this same looseness to which I now call your attention ?A. Yes, sir.

Q. Whether fraud is actually occurring in this loose practice as to naturalization papers, you cannot say ?-A. I do not tbink that there is any.

Q. It is very evident that the board of registrars wbich you bare in this city is an extremely efficient one, but it may not always be the good fortune of a city or town to bare as registrars gentlemen who are as honorable, capable, and efficient as are the members of your board. Therefore, under the present condition of the law, do you not think that a stricter application to their duties on the part of the registrars should be insisted upon by the law ?-A. It may be bat it should be.

Q. Do you think it wholly safe to leave it discretionary with these officers whether they shall apply tests or not? You have observed the looseness in that respect in the instances you have mentioned, particullarly in that of a dozen or more names being placed upon the list by a town clerk, or city clerk, at the suggestion of others in authority, with. out any questions being asked ?-A. In other parts of the State, you mean? I sbould like to see a statute like that of the city of Boston enforced in every town and city of Massachusetts. I suppose, however, it is utterly impossible to have a registration without a certain amount of fraud.

Q. You think there is some fraud in the registration in this city ?A. I do not question but that there is.

Q. The object of the requirement of these tests is the prevention of fraud ?-A. That is what we aim at. In that connection, I may say that fault bas often been found with the board upon pretexts that were not justibable; in otber words, fault has been found that we do not treat every man wbo comes into the office as a condemned felon; but I have not, in a period of ten years, seen enough of fraud to destroy my con. fidence in any individual. Ineffectnal attempts in tbat direction are made from time to time. At the very last election, there was an at. tempt of that kind. The man in that case looked to be honest enough and I asked him sereral questions, when he seemed somewhat confused ; and when I was about to ask him another question, I saw his coat.tails going through the door.

Q. But if you were a disbonest registrar a man who had no right to have his name ou the list could get it there ?-A. Even if I had been personally and intentionally dishonest, in that case, for instance, the name of the man would be publisbed, and you as a citizen, or any other, would bare the right to make complaint that that man was not a voter.

Q. But you have admitted his name?-A. Yes; but it is subject to public inspection and liable to be stricken off upon investigation.

Q. If that man had been placed under oath and had succeeded by swearing falsely in having his name entered, he would have soon been locked up in the city prison ?-A. Certainly. In the matter of the reading and writing qualification, my own ideas and those of Judge Hallett differ considerably. I passed certain men last fall whose writing looked like the crawling of a fly across a page, but I hold that there is as great a diversity in the degree of proficiency in that respect as there is in any other accomplishment. I hold that, if no one bad written nor read better than another, there would never have been any necessity for professors of writing or of elocution.

Q. But you are appointed specially to do this work, and the citizens generally who may be relied upon to make exposures of improper names may not busy themselves in that regard as they have other matters to engage their attention and are about their own business. They are not going to pay very much attention to the voting lists ?-A. They pay just enough attention to them to come in and tell us our lists are overwhelmed with fraud. Therefore I look upon outside advice as somewhat trivial indeed.

Q. So that this publication of the list to the world at large really helps you but very little !-A. It serves largely to notify those who are off the list of the fact that they are off aud the necessity for getting upon it.

Q. And stirs up the political workers ?-A. Yes, sir. I may add that I consider the right of suffrage under a republican form of government as one of the most sacred things, and one which I do not think can be too safely guarded.

Q. But my questions have been directed to ascertaining whether under your law that right is as carefully guarded as it might be or as it ought to be?-A. I do not think that it is. I do not think that there ought to be by law any hinderance to honest registration, but I think that the way of an evil.miuded man might be made more difficult than it is at present.

Q. I have seldom found a gentleman who understood this matter of registration as well as you do, and I would like to have, for the use of the committee, any suggestions that occur to you with a view to the improvement either of the United States law or of the State law, so far as it may bear upon registration.-A. I do not consider myself competent to speak so far as the United States law is concerned, but with reference to the State law, I think that a new registration throughout the State would be beneficial.

Q. Explain wbat you mean by a new registration.-A. I would have a new voting list at the municipal election of the coming year.

Q. Who should make this new list?-A. There should be constituteil authorities in every city and town to make such a list. I wonld have every citizen in the city of Boston newly registered and requalified. I for one should be obliged to read and write over again. An attempt in this direction was made in the legislature this year; but it was an in vidious proposition, as the city of Boston, in which this constitutional requirement is most persistently enforced, was singled out for a new revision. I would suggest that the law should be made applicable to the

entire State, and carried out with like efficiency throughout the common wealth.

Q. Is there any other suggestion developed by your experience which now occurs to you ?-A. I don't think it would be a bad plan to have this idea of paging and lettering carried out throughout the State. It would prove not only a great help to honest registration, but a benefit to that class of citizens who are subjected to inconvenience by the less efficient plan. It is absolutely in the interest of the voter.

Q. But if in making a new registration you cast aside the work of the assessors, this plan of paging and lettering would not be applicable.-A. We still want to have the assessors, as their list would be pecessary to show that voters resided in the State six months before the election.

The WITNESS (in answer to Mr. Blair) further suggested, as an efficient means of perfecting a reliable registration system, the creation by the State of a new office, to be known as that of the supervisor of reg. istration, the business of wbich would be to teach the method of regis. tration, with a view to extending a uniforon system throughout the en. tire State. Referring again to the practice of voting upon tax.bills which had been paid by persons other than the voters themselves, he said that the practice was a common one; that those whose taxes were thus paid could be numbered by thousands: yet the right of such men to vote was exercised honestly ; that the influence of the practice in point of morality was pernicious, as the roter practically sold bis vote for two dollars to whoever had paid the tax for him.

Q. Does your statement apply to cities of the State other than Bos. tou?-A. I do not think there is a town or city of the State that is an exception.

Q. State whether your lists, as corrected since 1874, do not contain many names that have come down to you from foriner generations, you might say—that is, from previous years—which have never been scruti. nized by your board at all.-A. You mean names of which we have no proof? Certainly there are. They are those which were handed down to us by Mr. McCleary. A new registration would completely wipe tbese out.

Q. How many do you thiuk would there be of those ? -A. I could not tell.

Q. Could you fix a minimum ?-A. I could not, for the reason that in the five years I bave been in the office we have registered perhaps 150,000 people, including those who have removed from one place to an. other and have been newly registered, and have, I suppose, 50,000 auto. graphs. It would be impossible to distinguish among these the old voters.

Q: Can son state the number of names that are wrongfully upon the list :- A. I cannot.

Q. You do not think that the list is perfect ?-A. I think it is as near perfect as it is possible for us to make it. If at any time any question is raised in regard to any names upon the list, we at once make an examination as to those names.

Q. Have you to day no estimate of what names upon the list are those of men who have been tested and qualified ?-A. It is impossible to get at the number. I think it is very small. As compared with Judge Hallett's figures of from 3,500 to 5,000, I should give the other extreme.

Q. Do you think there can be as many as from 1,000 to 1,500 ?-A. I do not think there can be more than a thousanıl, yet there may be. A man comes in and when questioned may state that he was born in Cbi. cago. I put bim on as a native-boru voter; yet he may have been born in Spain.

By Mr. McDONALD: Q. You do not know that there are any illegal soters upon the list ?A. No, sir.

Q. If tbere are any, they will be remored upon being discovered ?-A. Yes.

Q. The only reason why you state that there may be some is that no work of that kind can be entirely perfect ?-A. I know that it cannot be perfect, because of the intense partisan heat of an election and the earnestuess of the efforts on both sides to increase the list. I think tbat within the two months preceding an election a very large quantity of conscience is swallowed in the city of Boston.

Q. Do you not think that the most effective remedy for illegal voting is small election districts !-.. Yes. It was for that reason that I ad. vocated the precinct bill which was proposed two years ago. In ing in. vestigation of that subject, I visited all the large cities, and found that the average number of voters to a precinct in New York was about two hundred and forty-eight, and in Philadelphia two bundred and fifty. In New York there are some two hundred and odd polling places, while Philadelphia bas, I think, over three hundred. In the city of Brooklyn, after the rerolution in the condition of things which took place with reference to the famous McLaughlin ring, an appeal was made to the legislature, and the citizens succeeded in securing what is known as the Brooklyn registration law, which is one of the best laws on the subject in the country. Some of the features of the system in New York and other places might be made of incalculable benefit in this city, and it would be well worth the time if an investigation could be made with the view of utilizing some of their features. As a whole, however, it would be impossible to apply them here because of the difference in the time by which we are required to bave our registration-six months before the election, and other peculiarities in our registration.

Q. This poll-tax qualification to vote, you think, introduces a corrupt use of money in elections in this city ?-A. I think it does largely; be. cause if it was not used in that way the tendency to use it in other ways would not be so great.

Q. They use money to pay a man's poll-tax and they give him more money before they get through with the election ?-A. There is no doubt of it.

Q. In registering, does a foreign-born citizen have to produce a tax receipt in addition to bis naturalization papers !-A. Every applicant for registration is required to furnisl a tax receipt.

Q. Then he must produce that much more of proof than is produced of the native born citizen, who presents merely a tax receipt ?-A. Yes.

Q. So that you have more documentary proof before you in regard to the naturalized citizen, as to his identity, than you bave in the case of a native born citizen ?-A. Certainly. We have all that a nativeborn citizen is required to produce and a naturalization paper in addition.

Q. The naturalization papers, of course, prove one fact ?-A. They prove that somebody has been naturalized, but not that the individual presenting tbem bas been naturalized.

Q. And the tax receipt proves that some one has paid a tax !-A. Yes.

Q. With both of these papers together, and your own opportunities of observation of men, do you tbink you have often been deceived ?-A. I do not think that we have. I think that deception has been practiced as to every class of voters, but not as to the naturalized voter particularly.

Q. Take the case of the man of whom you have spoken, who came with the naturalization paper and made a mistake in giving the date of his naturalization ?-A. He betrayed himself in this way. He bad not looked at the date of the paper and did not know that I was looking at

I looked at it casually, because I suspected him from his appearance.

Q. A man undertaking to personate a naturalized citizen entitled to rote would then have a double task to perform in this, that he would bare to be correct, not only as to the date on which he paid his tax and got his receipt, but also as to the particulars of his naturalization papers !-A. Yes.

Q. You have spoken of the fact that in other parts of the State regis. tration is more loosely performed than it is bere in respect to reading and writing ?-A. The evidence that we have had of that consists of in. formation given us by citizens coming here and applying to be regis. tered. They have stated that the tests had not been required formerly of them.

Q. Still the persons who have raised that objection were men whom you yourself thought qualified to read and write ?-A. I doubt every man who comes before me until he has demonstrated his capacity.

Q. But that is not the rule in Massachusetts ?-A. It is in our office. If you, sir, had never voted in Boston, and applied for registration, I would not perhaps doubt your qualifications, but I would require you to furnish evidence of them.

Q. But as a general rule a majority of the people of Massachusetts who apply to be registered can read and write !--A. I do not think that we reject five cases in one hundred for the reason that the party can. not read or write.

Q. As compared with those who can read and write sufficiently to qualify them to vote, the percentage of those who cannot read or write their names is very small indeed, is it not ?-A. I judge so.

Q. Therefore, applying the principle that the law applies in such cases, the presumption would be that the party applying could read and write ? -A. Yes, sir.

Adjourned.

BOSTON, August, 15, 1879. GEORGE G. CROCKER sworn and examined.

By the CHAIRMAN:
Question. Where do you reside ?-Answer. In Boston.

Q. What was your connection with the Republican committee for the State of Massachusetts in the Congressional campaign of 1878 ?-A. I was secretary of the Republican State committee.

Q. As such, did you keep the records and minutes of the committee ? -8. Yes, sir.

Q. Who was cbairman of that committee ?-A. Adiu Thayer, of Bristol.

Q. Of how many members is the committee constituted !--A. There are forty members of the committee.

« AnteriorContinuar »