Just about every honest politician and concerned voter cheered when the paper ballot was replaced by the totalizer machines. It was a great day for those seeking honest elections. Now, our current crop of politicians (dishonest or stupid – take your pick) and the “useful idiots” in the media have returned the voters of New york to the “bad old days” of machine politics and voter coercion or intimidation.
I learned my politics from “Boss” Buckley’s Bronx Democratic machine. I was an eager listener to the tales of “Nails” and “Shaker” about the “good old days” when they could “steal” an election because of the paper ballot.
“Nails” got his nickname because of the lenght of his fingernails – longer than those of most working women. He kept them long because, with pieces of graphite cemented to those nails, he was able to invalidate many a paper ballot during the counting process. However, this could only work in close elections such as party primaries.
For the general elections, in districts where the voters were either intimidated or compliant, another method was used. When the polls opened the first bunch of “voters” were party regulars. They collected their paper ballots but did not deposit them in the ballot boxes. Instead they went outside and gave the already marked ballot to a voter. The voter was required to put the marked ballot in the ballot box and return the unmarked ballot to the party worker. The party worker would mark that ballot and give it to another voter. Since the intimidated voters had to produce an unmarked ballot, the party workers were the only one who actually voted. Now, with the new paper ballot system in place, “grand theft election” is certain.