Imagens da página

cate of death was considered necessary by the registrar; so, too, persons may die in the bospitals of whose death we receive no evidence.

Q. You do not continue upon the registry the name of any man after you bave satisfactory evidence of his death ?—A. At our own expense we reinvestigated all those death cases; but every return that the regis. trar makes to us we receive as his certificate of death and hold as an evidence of the authority under which we act. We do not take hearsay evidence of a death, but would have to investigate in any such case.

Q. But where you have satisfactory evidence that a man whose name is on the registry has died, you strike off his name?-A. Yes. Once in a while we kill a live man, but try not to. It is our province to restore him on the day of election if he turns up.

Q. You do not regard your record on that subject as imparting abso. lute verity, so that if a man is actually alive you would not consider that the record established his death -A. Not at all. Between the time of our sending that record out to the polls and the opening of the polls, it may bappen that several voters, whose names are upon it, may die. We endeavor to make the act of getting upon the voting list a very conscientious one and endeavor to make it about as hard for a man to get off after he is on.

Q. You have no doubt that there is abundant power under your State laws and constitution to conduct the elections of this State, so far as the city of Boston is concerned, without any outside aid or interference?— A. That may be, but, as I said before, if the Federal officers were men of sufficient caliber and education, I would consider that they might be a great aid to us.

Q. Still the elections could be carried on well without them !-A. Tbey have been carried on without them for a great many years.

Q. You elected members of Congress tolerably fairly before this Fed. eral election law was passed !-A. I have hearil so.

By Mr. BLAIR: Q. I understood you that at the time your board was established there were very great abuses attending the registration of voters in this city ?-A. I have heard so.

Q. You found a very imperfect list ?-A. We found a peculiar method.

Q. You found a list with twice as many names upon it as belonged there !—A. It was a list which was published prior to the election, but not on the day of election. What I tried to obviate at first, and what I thougbt was a hardship, was this: that a man whose name appeared upon the list as a qualified voter was thereby lulled into a sense of security as to his right to vote, when in fact the appearance of his name was no indication that he would be entitled to vote. Suppose, for instance, that your own name and residence appeared upon the list. You would therefore naturally feel confident that you would be able to vote without impediment. When you went to vote at the election two weeks afterwards, you are told tbat you could not vote, as there are dots against your name upon the list. If you ask an explanation, you are informed that the meaning of those dots is that you have not paid a tax within two years. You at once propose to pay the tax, but you cannot pay it as the time for payment with reference to voting has gone by. The consequence of that is, that there is a loss to the city of Boston in the non-payment of taxes and an injustice to the voter who has been lulled into a sense of security, when otherwise be would have taken

steps to bave assured himself of his right. That was the condition formerly. The claim that I make is this: that when the city of Boston publislies the name of the man as that of a qualified voter, such a man should be in fact qualified at the time of publication. Therefore we hewed dowu the list twenty-two thousand, and this created a great deal of talk. The talk, however, amounted to nothing, because the twenty. two thousand who were thus left off the list qualified themselves in time for the vext election and the list then commenced to increase.

Q. Do you believe that your list is more perfect than was the list wbich existed before the organization of your board ?-A. It is decidedly more perfect.

Q. Wherein !-A. Because the facilities for perfecting it have been largely increased. Before the board was created the voting list was compiled by the city clerk, who, having a multiplicity of other duties to perform, could not give his attention to registration except at certain periods of the year. Under the new systein the three members of the board bave nothing to do but to devote their entire time to the work, and it follows necessarily that their list would be a more perfect one.

Q. But is not your list an imperfect one ?—A. I have said that there was a great deal that was imperfect in its method of preparation.

Q. You mean to be understood as saying that prior to the organization of your board the voting list as actually voted upon was very im. perfect !-A. As actually voted upon, I think it was a good list ; but it was only a good list at the expense of the citizens. I mean to say that the persons whose names were represented there, and who did vote on the day of the election, were entitled to vote.

Q. Is there as much dauger of fraud under your list as there was under the list made use of prior to the establishment of your board in 1874 ?-A. I think there is not as much.

Q. Is there any essential difference ?-A. I should say there was, simply because more time is given to an examination of the list than was given to it before.

Q. But there would be very little occasion for tbis board of yours unless it did some good ?-A. The statute laws on the subject have been almost entirely changed since we took charge.

Q. Has that chauge been for the better?-A. I think so.

Q. What are some of the evils which existed under the former method of registration, and which your board of registration has obviated in the interest of an honest ballot ?-A. Not baving been in politics, nor conversant with the details of the method of detecting errors prior to the organization of the board, I cannot answer as to that.

Q. Have you examined the election returns so as to be able to say wbether or not a larger nuinber of votes are cast in proportion to the population than formerly ?-A. The largest vote cast under Mr. McCleary's list was, I think, 32,000 or 31,000 out of a total of perhaps 74,000 pames. Last year there were upon the published list 53,000 Danies, of wbom 47,000 voted.

Q. Did this increase of the vote result from the annexation of adjacent towns !-A. The board was formed subsequent to the annexation. No annexation has occurred since.

Q. Has the population of the city increased to an extent such as is indicated by that increase in the vote ?-A. No, sir.

Q. How do you account for that increase of the rote ?-A. I account for it by the fact that the former list included the names of many thousanda wbo were not qualified, and who therefore did not vote, and the consequence of the publication of their names, as I have stated, was that these citizens were lulled into a false security as to their right, and were not apprised that they could not vote until informed of the fact at the election-polls. This defect in the metbod is obviated by the publica. tion, as at present, of the names of qualified voters, this being virtually a notice to these whose names do not appear to qualify by paying their taxes in order to get upon the list. Under the former practice the dots set opposite the name of a citizen to indicate that he had not paid bis tax did not appear upon the published list, but were made by the ward officers on the night before the election. This practice was perpetuated by the present board in the first year of its organization, but, upon being informed, as they were, on the morning after an elec tion in that year, that some forty-four names in one ward wbich had been dotted were those of men who had actually paid their taxes, the practice was discontinued. The present system simplifier and made more effective the campaign work of the political parties by enabling them to get out a larger vote on either side than they would otherwise get out, as it furpisbed the names of those who were actual voters only, and the active workers of either party then brought forward those not upon the list whom they knew to be entitled to be there.

Q. Then under the former method it was not the voter but the politi. cal parties who were lulled into a false security as to their votes by the indiscriminate publication of the names of those who had and those who bad pot paid their taxes ?--A. Exactly so. The coustitution says tbat we shall publish a list, not of those whom we presume will pay a tas, but of those who bare paid a tax.

Q. I concede that, in my opinion, that is a very great improvement. Are you acqnainted with the present method of registration throughout the State?-A. I am, somewhat.

Q. What other evils bare yon found in connection with registration in different portions of the State ?-1. I have found that the constitutional requirement of a reading and writing qualification has not been generally insisted upon. A selectman of a town who had just purchased a set of registration books, having occasion to pay me a visit, remarked to me that for once his town should have an honest registration. A few days afterwards, upon his calling upon me again, he described his effort as having resulted most deplorably. The first case which he bad been called upon to dispose of bad been that of his brother in-law, and he re. marked to me, “ You wouldn't expect me to make my brother-in-law read and write.” He bad found that he could not enforce the law even as to his own family. There are other instances that I might refer to as showing that the constitutional requirement is not enforced. I remember having heard the city clerk of a large and populous city of Masssachu. setts state, in the presence of a committee of the House of Representatives, two years ago, that presuming that Bill or Jim Smith, of the board of aldermen of bis city, banded bim a foolscap sheet with a dozen or any other number of names upon it, he could not go back on the board of aldermen but would have to put the names on. In another city where it was presumed that the selectmen had said that the men in question were all right the names were put on.

Q. No personal application, then, is required in some localities, it seems? -A. It would seem pot.

Q. But all the names were put on that some one in authority wanted to have on ?-A. If a member of the city council or any one in authority gave the names they were put on,

Q. Do you think that this looseness in registration exists systemati. cally throughout the State ?-A. The city of Worcester, I think, has a board of registration consisting of the chairman of the board of assessors, the city clerk, and one citizen elected at large. The cities of Worcester and Boston are, I think, the only cities in which the voting lists are not compiled by the city clerk. In the towns the compilation is made by the town clerk, but as every voter there is known to almost every other voter, and as the lists are put up publicly, there is very little liability to fraud.

Q. But in cities where there are forty or sixty thousand inhabitants some special provision, in your opinion, is necessary ?-A. I think that there should be a special officer of registration in a city. With regard to the educational qualitication, I have always claimed that it was not enforced in Massachusetts, and the fact that it has not been bas often been demonstrated in my experience. In some instances when gentle. men who had lived in the State came to register in Boston, iipon my asking, “Sir, will you please real," the answer was, “Is it necessary that I should read? Well, I have voted at such and such a place for forty odd years and I never knew. before that I had to read,” yet we had voted under the same constitution. In the matter of autographs of the men assessed a like condition of things exist in the cities and towns of the Siate generally, and it you ask to see the autographs you will find only a comparatively few.

Q. Do I understand you to say that they cannot have an honest regis. tration in those cities and towns ?-A. I do uot say that they cannot have an honest registration. I do not say that a man who is not called upon to read because he is the brother-in-law of a registrar is a fraud. ulent voter, but I speak of it as one illustration of the necessity for a revision of the registration system.

Q. Nevertheless, in many cases, the man, if he votes at all under such circumstances, would vote without a legal right?-a. I judge so.

Q. Are there many evils, so far as registration is concerned, growing out of the use of fraudulent naturalization papers ?-A. We have not observed it to any great extent. I think that the system is open to frand in that respect.

Q. Explain wherein.-A. In the matter of wituesses. I remember in one instance, in which a party was arrested and tried as a false witness, that the facts which were developed in the trial rather surprised me, but I have not learned of many cases of false registration, and I do not kuow that in our experience we ever detected a false naturalization paper. If I remember the form, it is this, that each applicaut is required to produce two witnesses who have known him for a certain number of years.

Q. Tbat is in obtaining the original papers !-A. Yes, sir.

Q. How is it in getting bis name upon the registration ?--A. He must appear in person with the paper and answer that he is the person, and must read and write.

Q. What evidence have you that he is the person to whom the paper properly belongs ?-A. Simply his word. Uuder the ruling of the city solicitor, if a citizen states that that which he produces is bis naturalization paper, we cannot doubt his statement unless we have absolute proof to the contrary.

Q. Suppose that he tells a falsehood ?-A. The burden is upon himn. Of that class, ninety-nine cases in every hundred of those who come before as may be fraudulent, but we cannot prove it if such is the fact.

Q. Do yon uot think tbat in such cases it would be better to require some outside evidence, upon the principle which obtains in a bank in requiring a stranger demanding payment to be identified ?—A. We do not require evidence as to a tax bill which may be presented.

Q. That comes from an extraneous source and is based upon the rec. ord of the assessor!-A. Yes, sir.

Q. So that there you have evidence of a very strong character which does not depend upon the statement of the stranger at all. But the man with a naturalization paper may bave come into possession of it by having bad it given to him by a friend at home; yet, when he comes before you, you take his word as to the all-important question of identity, do you !--A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you say that, for all you know, pinety-nine cases out of every hundred may be fraudulent, but, under the ruling, you bave no right to inquire into the facts, but must take the word of the party ?-A. We have to take his, word. I do not say that I have any idea that ninetyvine cases out of every hundred are fraudulent, but what I mean to say is that I cannot prove that a stranger who appears before me is the man whom be claims to be or not.

Q. If you thought that ninety-nine out of every hundred cases were fraudulent you would make some inquiry in regard to them, would you not?-A. Certainly.

Q. There is not, then, the ordinary safeguard around the exercise of the ballot in that respect that obtains in common business affairs ?-A. How could you more safely guard it?

Q. Could you uot require the man to produce witnesses !-A. I should not know his witnesses.

Q. Exactly, but if three men swear to the same thing, there would be all the less probability of falsehood ?-A. But we do not swear every applicant for registration.

Q. You are required to, unless you are perfectly satisfied !---A. O, if we have any doubt, we swear tbe man. We do in some instauces swear parties.

Q. The question, lowerer, is not as to what satisfies you, but as to what is the opportunity for imposition upon you. Do you think really that there are here such strong safeguards thrown arouvd the exercise of the suffrage in this respect as there ought to be!-A. I hardly know how you would improve it.

Q. The man is obliged to make oath in court in the first instance. Might he not, in the same way, be obliged to produce witnesses to prove that be is the same Dennis McCarthy wbo is mentioned in the naturalization paper, and that they bare known him to be in possession of it for a certain length of time?-A. What would you, as a registrar, do if I came in and represented myself as having always lived in Spring. field ?

Q. If the law required additional proof it would be incumbent upon you to produce witnesses from Springfield.-A. That would be such a bindrance to registration, if followed to any great extent, that it would be scarcely practical to require that.

Q. Why not require the man to produce evidence from the records that he had exercised the suffrage there?-A. But suppose that his representation was a false one and he had never voted there?

Q. Then he will have lied to you in averring it.-A. I do not care if a man has been qualified in every city and town in the State of Massachusetts, when he comes before me he must qualify before me.

Q. But it seems that you do not require proof at all if you happen to

« AnteriorContinuar »