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COUP WATCH: Memories of A 1960 Chicago Poll Watcher

by Fred Hilgart Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2000 at 1:25 PM

You've heard all the stories & the endless inuendo about Chicago in 1960. But was you there, Charlie? The author of this article was, and he has something relevant to say about the ancient art of recognizing voter intent, as well as the fraud report you won't hear anywhere else.

error COUP WATCH: Memories of A 1960 Chicago Poll Watcher

By Fred Hilgart

In 1960 I was in grad school in Chicago. I was involved in community building in Chicago's fifth ward led by Independent Councilman Leon DuPre. DuPre was a liberal in Mayor Daley's conservative town. We were fighting the city on a number of different fronts when the Presidential election was held.

I went into a precinct in the eighth ward to be the republican poll watcher. My job was to watch the counting of the paper ballots. Alderman DuPre instructed us poll watcher in a number of different ways a ballot could be challanged. One of these was that the x needed to be in the box. Well, I was young and enthusiastic to work against the Daley man who was on the opposite side, a man by the name of Joe McMahone the County Clerk.

I took my job very seriously and challanged any ballot which didn't have a good solid x right in the middle of the box. McMahone went along with me for awhile but then stopped to explain to me that these ballots were made by old people some of whom could barely see but nevertheless made a extrodinary effort to cast their vote. He was correct as some of the x s were so wobbly they could hardly be disinguished from other letters, Although at the time I was a real tiger seeking reform of Chicago Politics. McMahone went on to point out that we need to acknowedge these votes where the intent was clear. I easily saw his arguement was valid.

Later when I made my report to Dupre I told him what I had done. He agreed with McMahone and stated that that regulation did not mean that votes with the x outside the box should be rejected; just challanged to make sure the voters intent was clear and the opposition wasn't throwing out votes that were against them.. I saw absolutely no voter fraud going on and to my knowedge neither did any of the other DuPre poll watchers.

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