Mike Royko, in his biography of Richard J. Daley, Boss, explained some of the techniques.
Despite all these safeguards and its lopsided superiority over local opposition, the Machine never fails to run scared. For this reason, or maybe out of habit, it never misses a chance to steal a certain number of votes and trample all over the voting laws. Most of it goes on in wards where the voters are lower middle class, black, poor white, or on the bottle. To assure party loyalty, the precinct captains merely accompany the voter into the voting machine. They aren't supposed to be sticking their heads in, but that's the only way they can be sure the person votes Democratic. They get away with it because the election judges, who are citizens hired to supervise each polling place, don't protest. The Democratic election judges don't mind, and the Republican election judges are probably Democrats. The Republicans assign poll watchers to combat fraud but they never have enough people to cover all the precincts. If they prevented the common practices, imaginative precinct captains would merely turn to others. In some wards, politically obligated doctors sign stacks of blank affidavits, attesting to the illness of people they have never seen, thus permitting the precinct captain to vote the people in their homes as absentee voters for reasons of illness. And several investigations have shown that death does not always keep a person's vote from being cast. (p. 77)
Which should remind you of this classic joke:
Jones: "I want to be buried in Chicago.
Jones: "So I can stay active in politics."
There were legal ways in which a voter could get "assistance" in voting in Chicago then. I don't recall exactly what they were, but do remember that some wards had astonishingly high proportions of voters who needed that assistance.
As you can see, the precinct captains — in some wards — did whatever they could to get around that secret-ballot problem.
Fortunately, we have learned from that, and no longer have voting systems where political operatives can see a voter's choices.
Or do we?
Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.Posted by Jim Miller at November 01, 2012 08:43 PM | Email This