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Monday, December 11, 2006

December 11, 1960: Illinois 'Inadequate' to Counter Stolen Election, Editorial Says

The following editorial, under the headline "Once An Election is Stolen" appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune on this day in 1960:

"We have little doubt that most of the people of Cook country are convinced -- and feel that they have good reason for the conviction -- that the election of Nov. 8 was characterized by such gross and palpable fraud as to justify the conclusion that at least two Republican candidates were deprived of victory. These were Richard Nixon for President and Benjamin Adamowski for state's attorney.

"But as the exploratory re-count has proceeded, it has become more and more apparent that the complexities of law and procedure and shortage of time in which to undo manifest fraud, not to mention the vast expense entailed, all are combining to militate against the correction of injustice.

"As it has told the story day by day, the Tribune has never failed to make clear to its readers that the difficulties of cutting thru the legal snarl and overcoming the rear guard action of a powerful political apparatus were great. So it may be wise if the voters do not burden themselves with the illusion that it would be simple, given the evidence produced, to reverse the result of the vote officially proclaimed by Democrats who control the county election machinery.

"The painful process to achieve that result has begun with the completion of the 'discovery' re-count. When Democratic members of the Chicago canvassing board walked out on an appeal that they correct the vote in conformity with the re-count, mandamus suits were filed in Circuit court against the city and county canvassing boards to force such action, and members of these boards were subpenaed as defendants. On Wednesday the state electoral board will be asked not to certify Sen. Kennedy as winner of Illinois' electoral votes. ...

"The behavior of the board, which as only one Republican member to four Democrats, has from the beginning inspired a minimum of confidence. When the board was compelled to honor a Republican demand that 460 judges of election appear before the Chicago canvassing board to answer questions on the genuineness of their returns [the chairman] summoned all at the same hour to a small room and produced a mob scene which prohibited orderly process. He then dismissed the lot after asking the perfunctory and meaningless question whether the tally displayed to them was what they reported. ...

"At the end of this discovery rigmarole, revision of the voting totals to reflect even admitted errors was refused by the canvassing board. The sole probable result is that sufficient grounds have been established for bringing a court suit for an official re-count on grounds of fraud. Even this depended on the vigilance of Republican volunteer watchers.

"If the re-count were directed, those acting for defrauded candidates had the knowledge that expenses to be borne by protesting candidates would be of the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they were advised by lawyers that the re-count itself might not be completed for a year and a half.

"All of this action is directed against a deadline of Dec. 19, by which time the state electoral board must decide whether the results of the election are to be certified. The decision rests on the board's determination wether the Cook county vote is to be accepted as it has been proclaimed by Democrats of the election board and in the office of county clerk. The proclamation was issued days before the discovery re-count was begun and rests essentially on the totals reported form the precincts on election night.

"The state board, with a Republican majority, is in a constitutional no man's land. If it refuses to certify, Illinois' 27 electoral votes might be withheld from John F. Kennedy. But if the electors, all Democrats, proceeded to forward the report of the electoral vote to Washington, the possibility exists that a Democratic Congress would accept it and defy contention that it could not legally be cast.

"The difficulty is in getting an honest report of the voting results in Cook county to the state board at Springfield. The two Democratic members of the three man county canvassing board are the mayor of Chicago and the county clerk. They have already signed the proclamation that Cook county went to Kennedy and to the other Democratic candidates whose title to office is in dispute.

"Whatever the evidence, it is unlikely that these highly interested officials would have a sudden access of conscience sufficient to induce them to withdraw the previous proclamation and replace it with once more in accord with the facts, unless the courts force them to do so.

"Give all of these circumstances, complications, and political ambushes, it would be an wary citizen who gave way to the illusion that Illinois might suddenly be swung to Richard Nixon. Even Sen. Thruston Morton, the Republican national chairman, has conceded that the possibility of reversing the election is remote.

"The investigation to date, incomplete and superficial as it may be, has demonstrated that existing election procedures in Illinois, particularly as they are applied in Chicago, are inadequate to defend the integrity of the ballot, or to insure an honest count. The law under which the election machinery operates is so complex and cumbersome that it affords, in effect, almost no recourse to an injured contestant in a stolen election."

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