Слике страница
PDF
ePub

members of the Association the grave and paramount importance of this question. I do not wish to intrude myself any further in the matter. If any member should feel inclined to offer a resolution to the effect that this bill be supported, I should be very glad to second it, but I feel I ought not to do anything more than to bring the matter to the attention of the Association.

Stillman F. Kneeland, of New York:

Mr. President, I have been handed one of these circulars, and it seems to me that it is a matter that is not to be disposed of at once. If our friend has a large number of these that could be circulated around after our adjournment, I think it wonld be well to look it over, and at our meeting to-morrow have something further to say in relation to it. I have not read the article myself. I have looked into it far enough to say it is a very important matter, in my opinion, to bring before the people of the State through our organization. I trust this matter will be held over until to-morrow without any motion, until we have a chance to look through these papers presented to us.

John Brooks Leavitt, of New York:

I only have about a dozen copies. Several of the gentlemen have asked me for them. It is a matter which affects us all as lawyers. If there is a general desire to have more copies so every member can have one, I will telegraph to New York and have some copies here to-morrow. I will put these upon the table and let them go as far as they will. If there is a general desire for them, I will have some more to-morrow.

The President:

Is that satisfactory to you, that the matter be held over until the session to-morrow?

Mr. Leavitt:

Perfectly so.

Mr. Kneeland:

I would like to hear from those who have tested the ballot machine. In our district, in Brooklyn, we had it last year and every one was enthusiastic in favor of it. There was no possibility of the ballots turning out wrong, and in five minutes after the polls closed we knew who was elected and who was not, so far as our election district was concerned.

Mr. Leavitt:

This bill is not incompatible with the use of the voting machine:

E. P. White, of Amsterdam:

Mr. President, in connection with the suggestion that has been made, it seems to me if Mr. Leavitt would state the leading provisions of this bill, and the mode in which it would amend the existing law, it would at once give us a better idea and save our reading the bill. I for one am not familiar, and I assume many here are not, with the provisions of the Massachusetts law in that respect.

Mr. Leavitt:

I should be very glad, if desired by the Association, to call attention to some of the provisions of the bill. I expected to limit myself simply to bringing it to the attention of the members. Any one who has had practical experience in the counting of the ballots under our present system knows that there are very many defective ballots passed. In the last election in New York State there were enough defective ballots cast in New York, some 10,000 I think, to have changed the result as to

some of the judicial officers. The great trouble is in marking the ballot. Voters get their marks in the wrong places. The ballot is a very cumbersome affair, as we all know, especially in the larger cities where there are a number of candidates. The party column causes a great deal of trouble; I do not mean it makes a great deal of trouble for the independent voter, but a great deal of trouble for the man who wants to vote an independent ticket, to be sure, and a great deal of trouble for every other voter. I do not think I need to go into these questions; we have all had practical experience in them. This particular ballot which is proposed in its place is a ballot in which, instead of marking by a cross in a particular place, the result being that a man with thick fingers and unused to writing makes the mistake, by putting the cross outside of the square, this ballot provides a very simple. device. The square is black instead of white, and there is a round, white circle in the middle of it, and all the voter has to do is to fill up that circle with the black marks. He can do it either by a spotter, or do it by a black-leaded pencil, and there is no danger of making a ballot defective, because the. round, white spot in the midst of the black circle is one that can be hidden by any pencil wielded by any hand, however clumsy, so that there is no danger of a ballot being marked or made defective because a cross is carried outside of the square. That is in the line of simplicity. Then the candidates are arranged, not under party columns, but they are arranged according to the office for which they are nominated and are arranged alphabetically. For example, on this sample ballot which I hold in my hand, containing five different parties, the candidates for Governor are arranged alphabetically, one under the other, and you simply mark in this black square. You mark out the white spot opposite

the name of the man for whom you wish to cast your vote as Governor. So with the other names. A device

to enable the illiterate voter to cast his constitutional ballot, which is now preserved for him by a constitutional provision, is necessary. I have never been able to see why it was necessary. It always seemed to me a fiction to suggest that the State, in passing upon the requirements of a ballot, must necessarily pass class legislation to enable a man to do that which he could only do if he was intelligent enough. The State does not say anything in the election laws about providing a way for sick men to be brought to the polls. It makes no provision for people confined in the prisons for misdemeanors, which do not take away their right to vote, and I have never been able to understand why the State was obliged to pass a law, I mean on constitutional grounds, to provide for a particular class of voters. However that may be, it seems to have been firmly entrenched in our legislation that it is necessary, constitutionally, to have a ballot which can be voted by a man who cannot read. As you know, under the present system, the party column is headed by a party device and a circle. A man who wants to vote the ticket marks a cross in the circle under that party device. That device is kept in this ballot opposite the name of each candidate. In the independent column is found the party device of the party which nominates that candidate. There is in that broader column a line of party devices in a subsidiary column, or smaller column, each of those subsidiary columns being devoted to the same party device. In the sample ballot which I hold in my hand there are five different parties presenting candidates, and there are five of those subsidiary columns. For example, the Democratic device is the star.

Stillman F. Kneeland, of New York:

He is evidently not a Democrat.

Mr. Leavitt:

Yes, I am. I do not take the star as my guidance always. I do not always hitch my wagon to that star. There is the star, for example. Here is a column devoted to the star, and on the line on which every Democratic candidate's name is placed will be found the star. Therefore, the voter who wants to vote for the star candidate simply looks down this line and wherever he finds a star, opposite that he marks out the white spot. So that it preserves all the constitutional rights of the illiterate voter and thus answers any such objection.

C. Z. Lincoln, of Albany:

Must he vote separately for every candidate?

Mr. Leavitt:

Yes. There is no system of voting the entire ticket by one mark. I am very glad of that question because I wish to call you attention to one serious objection to the use of voting machines under the present system. They do away, necessarily, with the constitutional protection of secrecy. Necessarily, under the Constitution, voting machines are allowed, provided they do not do away with. the secret ballot. When a man goes into the booth under the present ballot system goes into one of those votingmachine booths and he votes a straight party ticket on either side, he makes one push of the button; that makes one click. He is in there for a moment; he cannot stay in any longer. He must go out; I believe the machine throws him out or he throws the machine out. He is there but an instant and one click is heard. If, however,

« ПретходнаНастави »