On Electoral Fraud

The articles all show the innovative, ingenious, and brutal ways electoral fraud was carried out in the late 19th century and early 20th century. As Democratic Party boss in Louisville, John Whallen masterminded the large-scale voter fraud in order to keep Democrats in power and his economic and political interests in tact. In Adams County, people from all classes bought and sold votes in municipal elections for small sums of money. The system was entrenched and hard to reform. In Campbell’s article, we can see both forms of voter fraud, adding votes and suppressing votes, in the 1905 Louisville election.

As to which form of electoral fraud is worse for democracy, actively suppressing opponent’s vote total is worse. Campbell provides a plethora of examples of the documented ways in which John Whallen went about suppressing the opposition. The most concerning of the evidence was the collusion between the political bosses and the police. On registration day and on election day itself, police officers threatened and beat would be voters and election officials. Furthermore, they abused their position as law enforcement to refuse African Americans to vote because they lived in ‘disreputable places’ and by busing in elderly voters to vote immediately at the expense of other voters who had been patiently waiting in line for hours (284). It is hard to vote if policemen harass and intimidate you while registering or waiting in line to vote.

It is important to note that as Campbell explains, Louisville is an example of how voter frauds occurs even when there is healthy competition among parties and a free press (278). Whallen and his cronies found ways to make sure that their preferred candidates won, by all means necessary, even with competition. The case study of the 1905 Louisville election and those in years previous show there are always cracks in the system that clever and corrupt men like Whallen are willing and able to exploit for their own gain.

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