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ANNUAL REPORT

OF THE

COMMISSION.

UTAH

SALT LAKE CITY, September 23, 1889. SIR: The Utah Commission respectfully submits the following report of its proceedings during the past year:

Immediately after the election for Territorial officers held in August, 1888, the Commission began the work necessary for the November election, at which a Delegate to represent the Territory in Congress was to be chosen, by causing a thorough revision of the registration lists throughout the Territory, which was completed during the month of September.

The election was held on the 6th day of November, 1888, and was general except in a few precincts, the voters in which failed to take sufficient interest to appear and vote, although judges of election had been appointed for each of said precincts.

Under the authority conferred by the act of Congress approved March 22, 1882, entitled "An act to amend section 5352 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, and for other purposes," the Commission, on the 3d day of November, 1888, appointed a canvassing board composed of five reputable citizens of the Territory, three of whom were members of the Liberal party, and two of the People's party, viz, Orlando W. Powers, Henry W. Lawrence, Robert W. Cross, Lewis W. Hills, and Frank J. Cannon, to canvass the returns of said election and declare the result.

This board of canvassers met at the rooms of the Commission in Salt Lake City, on Friday the 16th of November, 1888, and organized by each taking the oath prescribed by law, and electing a chairman and secretary from their number. It then, in the presence of the Commission, proceeded to canvass the returns of said election, as the same had been returned to the Commission by the various election boards, and, as the result of said canvass, reported to the Commission that John T. Caine had received 10,127 votes, R. N. Baskin had received 3,484 votes, and Samuel R. Thurman had received 511 votes, and that there were 7 scattering votes cast; and upon said canvass and report, the said John T. Caine was declared elected, and given the proper certificate of his election as Delegate to the Fifty-first Congress from Utah Territory.

The aggregate of votes cast during the two years since the passage of the act of Congress which took effect on the 3d of March, 1887, and is known as the "Edmunds-Tucker Act," upon the basis of the votes cast for members of the legislative council, is as follows:

Votes cast in 1887.

Votes cast in 1889.

Increase in 1889 over 1887, 4,342, or 26 per cent.

16, 150

20, 495

An election was held in August, 1888, for a portion of the county officers in each county in the Territory, at which the aggregate vote cast was 15,012, a falling off of 1,138 votes from the August election of the year previous, while at the election for Delegate to Congress, held on the 6th of November, 1888, the aggregate vote cast was 14,129, which was 2,021 votes less than were cast at the August election in 1887 and 883 votes less than were cast at the August election in 1888. This falling off in the votes can be reasonably accounted for by the fact that greater interest is taken in those elections at which members of the legislature are chosen, which is manifest in the increased vote of 1889 over that of 1887, although a portion of this increase is doubtless caused by the influx of population which is continually coming into the Territory.

The comparatively meager vote for Delegate in Congress may be partially accounted for in the fact that the People's party, or the Mormons, are largely in the majority in the Territory, and while the Liberal party, or the Gentiles, as they are called, felt sufficient interest to name a candidate and to preserve their party organization, it was done without the remotest prospect or hope of success, and great numbers remained away from the polls. It is also probable that many of the People's party, regarding the success of their candidate as assured, did not take the trouble to vote where it was attended with any considerable inconvenience.

Since our last report, the Commission has caused municipal elections to be held in the following cities and towns:

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From the organization of the Commission to the present time, the registrations and elections held under its supervision have been free from all charges of fraud and unfairness, with a single exception.

In February, 1889, at the municipal election for the city of Ogden, in Weber County, there was a very bitter contest between the opposing parties, in which the Liberal, or Non-Mormon party, prevailed over the People's, or Mormon party, and carried the election for the first time in the history of the city.

The leaders of the People's party claimed that there had been frauds perpretrated by the Liberal party sufficient to bring about this result, both in the matter of registration and at the polls.

It is a noticeable fact, that notwithstanding these charges of fraud no action has been brought to test the legality of the election of any officer, either as to the manner of registration, or as to illegal voting at the polls, or as to the canvass of the returns. Nor has any specific charge of fraud ever been brought to the knowledge of this Commission, but only general charges made through the party newspapers or by individual members of the People's party, wholly unsupported by proof.

The commission has no information of anything like fraud being im puted in any case to the commission, but only to its agents in the persons of the registrars and judges of election appointed by it.

The Commission deem it just to itself to state that it has studiously endeavored in all instances to appoint the very best men to be procured who will accept the positions, selecting in each instance discreet, sober, honest, fair-minded men, as free from partisan influence and bias as practicable, and has invariably urged upon them to do equal and exact justice to all citizens of the Territory, without reference to creed or religion, and where an abuse of power by those appointed as registrars or judges has been brought to the knowledge of the commission it has not hesitated in its action, but has promptly removed such persous from office.

This, however, we are gratified to say, has occurred in but few instances, and the Commission takes great pleasure in bearing witness to the fidelity and efficiency with which the majority of its appointees have discharged their difficult duties, and to the uniform fairness of the elections throughout the Territory.

The complaint most frequently made to the Commission is, that the registration lists of Salt Lake City, and of Ogden, contain each a large number of names of persons who can not be found on inquiry and search, and that they are kept there by the registration officers to enable the Liberal party to have the names represented by persons who are not legal voters.

It has not been brought to the knowledge of the Commission in any way that this fraud has been perpetrated in a single instance, but in order to satisfy the seeming fears of leading members of the People's party the Commission proceeded to Ogden prior to the last election, and held a conference with the registrars and judges of election appointed by the Commission, in the presence of a number of leaders and official representatives of the People's party, and agreed upon rules for the conduct of the approaching election which were satisfactory to both parties, and the Commission has since heard no complaint in regard to the fairness of that election, and does not believe that the frauds anticipated therein, or those charged in the former elections, were attempted to be practiced.

The whole trouble in regard to the condition of the registration lists complained of is owing to the laws in regard to registration and elections enacted by the territorial legislature, which is the creature of and dominated the People's party, or Mormon party, and those laws must be amended before any right of complaint will exist.

All registered voters have been required to take the oath prescribed by law before being registered, and these oaths are filed in the office of the probate court of the respective counties.

In making the revision of the registration lists the registrar is required "to make careful inquiry if any person whose name is on his list has died or removed from the precinct, or is otherwise disqualified as a voter of such precinct, and, if so, to erase his name therefrom." (Compiled Laws of Utah, Vol. 1, page 319, sec. 240.)

It will be seen from this that he can only erase names while revising the lists when he has satisfactory information that the registered voter "has died or removed from the precinct, or is otherwise disqualified as a voter." The simple fact that he does not find him is not sufficient. After the revision it is provided that the lists be posted for fifteen days, and for hearing objections to the right to vote of any person reg INT 89-VOL III-12

istered until sunset of the fifth day preceding the election, but this is restricted by a somewhat remarkable provision of the statute, as follows:

Said objections shall be made by a qualified voter in writing, delivered to said justice (under the Edmunds law the registrar acts instead of the justice as mentioned in the Territorial act), who shall issue a written notice to the person objected to, stating the place, day and hour when the objection will be heard. The person making the objection shall serve, or cause to be served, said notice upon the person objected to, and shall also make returns of such service to the justice before whom the objection shall be heard. (Comp. Laws Utah, 320, 321, sec. 246.)

There is no other provision in the law for purging the registration lists, and it is impossible to serve the notice required, if the person objected to has died, removed, or is absent and can not be found, and if it be a fact, as alleged, that many names of non-voters are upon the lists, it is the fault of the law and not of the registrars, and the law should be amended.

When the Commission was first organized, it was a matter of grave consideration with the able men then composing it, headed by that wise and safe counselor ex-Governor Alexander Ramsey, as chairman, as to the proper policy to be pursued in discharging the very responsible as well as delicate trust committed to its direction.

After mature thought and deliberation, it was unanimously considered by the Commission that, under the act of Congress establishing it, the duty of the Commission was to so shape its policy, and the administration of the affairs committed to it, as to be in harmony with the spirit of the laws of Congress regarding the principal and perhaps sole object in view in its creation to be the extinction of polygamy, and the stamping out, as far as possible, of all polygamous influences and tendencies.

How best to accomplish this was a grave question, and was approached with some hesitation and much serious thought, but as subsequent events have shown, was determined wisely.

The act of Congress of March 22, 1882, commonly known as the "Edmunds law," cut off polygamists, bigamists, and those who might thereafter be convicted of kindred offenses, from exercising the right of suffrage, and from the privilege of holding office in the Territory, and it became the duty of the Commission to exclude all such persons from participating in the elections.

The Commission did not, however, consider this to be the sole object of the law, but that it was also intended to make those offenses which were practiced by the Mormon people in direct violation of the law, and which were under the ban of civilization everywhere, odious.

In order to accomplish this, and to thoroughly convince the Mormon people of its earnestness of purpose, and to impress them with the idea that the Government, through its authorized agencies, meant that polygamy should be punished and eradicated, and its sovereign power in the enactment of laws for the suppression and punishment of crime should be respected and obeyed by all people within its jurisdiction and limits, the Commission adopted the rule of appointing registrars, wherever practicable, from the Gentile or non-Mormon element of the population, believing them to be more in harmony with the attempts to carry out and enforce the provisions of the law than members of the other party, and in the matter of judges of election, the law requiring three persons, it appointed, wherever they could be found, two out of the three from the non-Mormon element. In many precincts none but Mormons were to be found, and in such places Mormons were appointed. They have thus had representation upon all election boards, and entire control of some.

This policy of the Commission has been steadily pursued to the present time, and, it is believed, with the most satisfactory results, as evidenced by the steady increase of the anti-Mormon vote, and by the abandonment, except in some remote districts, of the open practice of those offenses for the suppression of which the law was enacted.

Notwithstanding these results, this line of policy has not met the unanimous approval of the non-Mormon element, which has repeatedly urged the Commission to the adoption of more stringent regulations, some of which were not only considered by the Commission to be of doubtful expediency, but to be without the pale of the law and in excess of its powers as defined by law.

At the same time the non-Mormons were complaining because the Commission failed to inaugurate the extreme measures urged by them the Mormon element was making numerous complaints as to what they denominate the injustice done them in denying to them equal or proportionate representation in all positions which the Commission has power to fill.

There would be some degree of plausibility in their demands if the population and the division of the political parties were to be considered numerically only, for the Mormon element is largely in the majority in most of the voting precincts, the exceptions being in two or three cities where the anti-Mormon element has centered and in the mining districts.

But the Commission has acted on the idea that it was the intention of Congress to impress upon the Mormon people that it has a fixed purpose to compel obedience to the laws enacted by it, and, if possible, to bring them and their institutions into harmonious relations with the General Government; that to do this it has prescribed grave punishments for offenses either sanctioned or tolerated by them and a denial of the right to participate in the affairs of the Government by voting or holding any office of honor, trust, or profit to all who are guilty of such offenses, and thereby to convince those who are not actual offenders and criminals, but who adhere to the same creed and lend their moral, if not open, support and encouragement to those who do violate the law, concealing their crimes and persons from the officers of the law and ostracising those of their number who give aid in enforcing the law in any manner; that they, to that extent, are under bans and not to be promoted to places of trust and emolument so long as they thus give aid and comfort to those who defy the law and lionize those who are convicted and punished as heroes and martyrs who have suffered persecu tion for conscience sake by meeting them with bands and triumphal processions as they leave the door of the penitentiary and promoting them to higher offices in the church.

It may be considered a quasi punishment imposed upon them while they are still permitted to use the ballot in all elections held in the Territory. It is quite certain, too, that if Mormons were placed in control of the election machinery they would give the most liberal construction possible in favor of the peculiar practices and tenets they profess to hold as revelations from God.

We therefore insist that the Commission did right originally in adopting the rule that the duties pertaining to registrations and elections should be placed in the hands of and be performed by those who were not in sympathy with the Mormon church and creed, and that the wisdom of a strict adherence to that line of policy has been demonstrated by the changes that have been produced and in the awakened prosperity and progress which are everywhere visible.

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