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San Francisco district and at the time a power in California politics, was one of the leaders of the reform-of-theelection-laws movement; as were Franklin K. Lane, now Interstate Commerce Commissioner, James H. Barry of the San Francisco Star, and the late Arthur McEwen, the most independent newspaper writer who ever combated the "Associated Villainies," as McEwen dubbed the affiliated corporations whose political agents constituted the leaders of the California machine organization.
The original draft of the first Australian ballot measure to become a law in California, was taken to Sacramento in the early nineties by a committee of 100 citizens with Maguire at their head.
The proposed measure was without "party circle," or "party column," or other device to give the organized machine advantage over the unorganized citizenry. The names of the candidates for the several offices, were, under the terms of the bill, grouped under the name of the office to which they aspired, the name of the party to which each candidate owed his nomination following the candidate's name. The voter was thus called upon to choose between candidates, as well as to choose between parties.
But before the measure could become a law, it was amended by adding at the top of each ballot, a circle for
erated Trades Council of San Francisco became interested, and at request of its representatives, Maguire drew the first Australian ballot measure ever prepared in California. During the 1890 campaign candidates for the Legislature were pledged to support such a measure. The passage of California's first Australian ballot law, largely through the effort of the Federated Trades Council, followed.
It is interesting to note in this particular that the California State Federation of Labor included restoration of the Australian ballot and simplification of the Direct Primary law, among "Labor measures," and instructed the representatives of Labor at Sacramento to support the passage of bills advocating these reforms.
each party that had named candidates. Each circle was marked with the name of a party. A cross stamped in one of these circles was equivalent to a vote for every candidate on the ticket who had a nomination from the party which the stamped circle represented.
The "party-circle," as the device was called, gave the party candidate advantage over the candidate running as an independent without party nomination, and tended to encourage the indifferent or lazy voter to choose between parties rather than between men. Nevertheless, comparative little use was made of the "party circle" until the further corruption of the ballot by the introduction of the "party column."
Under the "party-column" amendment to the original law, the names of candidates, instead of being grouped under the name of the office to which they aspired, were grouped under the name of the party to which they owed nomination. The average voter, wishing to vote for the head of his party ticket, under the new arrangement, found it convenient to follow down the column in voting for candidates for other offices, rather than to go over into the columns of other parties to hunt for candidates who, for minor offices, the voter might deem better qualified than the candidates of his own party. The "party circle" was, too, given a prominence which it had not had on the ballot provided in the original law.
Still another step-and a most important one-was taken to direct the voter to the "party circle." Under the law, a "distinguishing mark" invalidated the ballot. Under court rulings on this point, the most trivial mark
became a distinguishing mark-a cross mis-stamped, a blot, a double mark, all were held to be "distinguishing marks" which invalidated the ballot.111
Soon the idea that to be sure of one's vote it was safer to use the "party circle," than to run the risk of invalidating one's ballot by voting for individual candidates, became popular. And, finally, when the voting machine was introduced, a curious rivalry was encouraged to establish records for quick voting. The voter, wishing to make a "record," would rush into the booth, press down the party lever, and rush out again—having voted.
Under these conditions, which had developed during the slow course of tinkering with the Australian ballot law, the machine, in control of nominating conventions, had only to name a popular man at the head of the ticket, and it could be practically sure of electing to the minor offices candidates who would not have been the personal choice of the electors.112
This was particularly true of candidates for the judi
111 Curiously enough the most effective and most readily used "distinguishing mark" was permitted under the law. The theory of the objection to the "distinguishing mark" was to prevent the marking of a ballot so as to furnish proof to a second person that the elector had cast his ballot in a given way. But the law provided that the voter could write in the name of any person for any office he chose. Thus A, wising to show B that he had voted in a given way, need only to state in advance to B that he would write in the name of Richard Roe for constable. B would not only be furnished with a mark that would convince him that A had voted as agreed, but the mark would be in A's own handwriting. This was permitted under the law, but a ballot, folded before the crosses stamped by the voter were dry, so as to leave the impression of a cross out of place, would have been thrown out on the ground that it contained a distinguishing mark.
112 This was well illustrated at the Presidential election of 1904. So popular was Roosevelt in California, that the Republican Presidential electors received no less than 205,226 votes as against 89,294 for the Democratic electors. The People were for Roosevelt, because of the so-called "Roosevelt policies." The
ciary. The general public, after the excitement of a political campaign had passed, too often discovered, with regret, that a Judge who had served on the bench with ability and distinction, and whom all supposed would be re-elected as a matter of course, had been retired, because of his affiliation with the minority party.
Although attempts were made from time to time to restore the Australian ballot to its original simplicity and effectiveness, it was not until the legislative session of 1909 that the movement for ballot reform made much headway. At the 1909 session, however, three ballot reform measures were considered.
The first of these was introduced by Assemblyman C. C. Young of Berkeley and provided for the abolition of both the "party circle" and the "party column." The second was introduced by Senator Holohan, and did away with the "party circle" only.11
The third bill had been prepared by Mr. William Denman of San Francisco. This measure provided that
machine saw what was coming, and the Republican candidates for Congress in this State that year were in the main men who did not hold the Roosevelt theories of government at all. The same was true of the Republican candidates for the Legislature. The Legislature elected on the Roosevelt ticket was one of the most subservient and corrupt that ever sat in California. This Legislature elected to the United States Senate a representative "organization" politician, a man quite out of sympathy with the Roosevelt view of things. Thus, under the "party circle" scheme of voting, the popularity of the Roosevelt policies which gave Roosevelt his large California vote, at the same time carried the election of representatives in Congress who were well calculated to act as a block in the way of realization of those policies. Roosevelt and a square deal, was the rallying cry in California that year. Roosevelt carried the State, and at the same time pulled into office legislators who were for anything but square deal policies.
113 "The proposition for the abolition of the party circle," said Phil A. Stanton in his pamphlet, "A Personal Statement to the Voters of California," "was strictly a Democratic measure." Mr. Stanton was at the time a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor. Out of over 200,000 votes cast at the Republican primaries, Mr. Stanton received 18,226.
candidates for judicial office should have their names printed in a separate column on the election ballot, and without party designation.114 This measure was introduced in the Upper House by Senator Boynton.
Both the Holohan bill and the Boynton bill passed the Senate. After the passage of the Holohan bill in the Upper House, the Young bill was not pressed in the Assembly, on the theory that half a loaf is better than no bread, and that it was better to compromise to secure the certain abolishment of the "party circle," than to risk getting nothing by insisting upon abolishing the "party column."
The machine, as soon as the Young bill was out of the way, turned upon the Holohan bill in the Assembly and by a vote of 36 to 35 denied the measure's second reading.
On similar narrow margin the Boynton non-Partisan Judiciary bill met with defeat in the Assembly, 35 members voting for the measure and 29 against, 41 votes being required for its passage in the Lower House.
Thus, the 1909 Legislature, after action in the Senate, did nothing toward the restoration of the Australian
114 "I voted against the non-partisan judicial column bill," said Phil A. Stanton, Speaker of the 1909 Assembly, "because the measure proposed was of a mongrel nature, misleading and utterly inadequate for the purpose sought to be accomplished."
It is interesting to note, however, that in spite of Mr. Stanton's adverse comment, the 1909 Judicial Column bill was endorsed by the San Francisco Bar Association; by Judge Gilbert, presiding Judge of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals; by United States Circuit Judge William H. Morrow; by United States District Judge De Haven; by Chief Justice Beatty of the California Supreme Court, and by more than sixty other judicial officers of California. The measure also had the commendation and endorsement of the Chief Justices of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, Oregon, Wyoming, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada and Montana, to whom it had been submitted before it was introduced in the California Legislature.