« PředchozíPokračovat »
candidates will not be held until after the question of recall has been decided. "Divorce
can probably only come through making the recall a real impeachment by the people on specific charges of misconduct and on them alone, without the selection of a successor of the accused officer being involved in the proceeding." It is reported that an amendment to the law embodying this reform will be submitted to the voters next November. Further, it has strongly been urged that the successor to the officer recalled should be appointed rather than elected.
The substitution of some form of a majority vote for the plurality vote now allowed by law would aid, in cases where there are several candidates, toward making the recall election a more efficient means of deciding the issue properly involved. In the one case of that kind before mentioned the successful candidate received 1,185 out of a total of 4,237 votes, only twenty-two more than received by the deposed official.
Opinions widely differ as to the effects of the institution upon the conduct of officers. On the one hand it is maintained that the mere existence of the law holds a discreet official “to a definite sense of his responsibility and duty.” On the other hand it is said that “the recall
exerts no corrective influence over officials that the laws against official corruption and the controlling power of public sentiment do not.”
In fact it seems that at least on a few occasions the serious threat of a recall has prevented or has helped to prevent some official “sins of commission” granting an obnoxious franchise, establishing a “restricted district.” It may be, of course, that much political corruption has been prevented by a deterrent influence of the recall law. But, on the other hand, the possibility of a recall has probably caused at least some “sins of omission.” It is thought that the assessors in many instances have failed to enforce the law fully for fear of a recall.
Where the recall issue is a permanent one, as it has been in some cases, of course recall elections only furnish additional opportunities for the temporary settlement of that issue. Limited to such cases, this opinion is correct: “In a state where
there are frequent elections for most officials the term is but two years—the “recall' established by law is frequent enough. If the people are dissatisfied with the official they need not reëlect him.”
But the terms of office in Oregon are now generally too short, and the adoption of the recall has opened the way for an increase in the length of terms-an important reform apparently otherwise impossible.
The discord apparent in recall movements, and the violence which was threatened in one of them and used in another cannot be justly charged as caused by the recall. The strife might have been worse in the absence of this method of settlement.
Our experience is yet too limited to justify any general conclusion as to the operation of the recall in Oregon. It is often denounced in strong terms by its crities, although there is no serious thought of abolishing it. It is as often extravagantly praised by its friends; but, whatever are its merits, the democratic nature of the recall has very much more to do with its popularity than any practical results which it may have thus far accomplished.
NOTES ON CURRENT LEGISLATION
EDITED BY HORACE E. FLACK
Ballot Legislation of 1911.
Probably the most important feature of the ballot legislation enacted during the past year has been the marked trend away from the hitherto prevailing American system, under which special provision is made for straight-ticket voting, and toward the simple Australian system under which the straight-ticket voter and the split-ticket voter are placed on an absolute equality.
Two states, California and New Jersey, have adopted, together with these simpler rules for marking, their logical corollary—the “officegroup" form of ballot. The California act' provides that the names of the candidates, instead of being printed in separate tickets under the several party emblems, shall be grouped under the title of each office-in the case of certain local offices alphabetically, but in the case of all other offices, voted for throughout larger districts, according to the system of rotation which a dozen or more states have already adopted for their official primary ballots. Each candidate's nameexcept in the case of candidates for judicial or school offices—is to be followed by his party designation, or by the word “Independent." Blank spaces for writing in names, as many as there are persons to be elected to any given office, are provided for under each office-group. The New Jersey law? provides for the alphabetical arrangement of the candidates' names under each office-group, without any provision for rotation. Each candidate's name is to be followed by his party designation. If nominated by two or more parties or independent groups, a candidate may determine in what order their designations shall follow his name, but if he fails to indicate any choice the decision is left to the officer charged with printing the ballots. The change from existing conditions represented by this New Jersey act is even greater than that accomplished in California, since New Jersey has never, up to the present time, adopted the blanket form of ballot, but has continued the earlier American system of separate ballots for each party, merely providing that these ballots should be printed by the state. Their distribution by the state was also provided for, but as a matter of fact,
Ch. 225; March 20.
the actual distribution was usually made by the party organizations prior to election day. This has now been forbidden, and by the adoption of a system of numbered stubs, similar to that used in New York, Ohio and a number of other states, many abuses in connection with the handling of ballots on election day have been practically abolished.
Two other states, New Hampshire 3 and Wyoming, 4 while retaining the "party column" form of ballot, have abolished the party circle, and have done away with any special provision for voting a straight party ticket-thus leaving their form of ballot and rules for marking similar to those now in use in Iowa and Montana. This compromise form of ballot, when tried in other states, has usually proved but a temporary expedient, and it may therefore be expected that in time New Hampshire and Wyoming will follow out the logic of their present action by adopting, in addition to the Australian rules for marking, the "office-group" form of ballot.
The past year has also seen a marked tendency toward a non-partisan ballot for judicial, municipal and other local elections. The California act above referred to 5 provides that the names of candidates for school and judicial offices shall be printed on the general ballot without party designations of any sort. Wisconsin 6 has made similar provision as to judicial officers in counties of over 100,000 inhabitants (except police justices and justices of the peace), and as to members of school boards in cities of the first class. Candidates for such offices, after being proposed by petition, are to be voted for at a non-partisan direct primary, and the two candidates for each office who receive the largest number of votes at the primary election are to have their name, placed, without party designation of any sort, on the general election ballot. Another Wisconsin act, the application of which is not limited to any particular locality, provides that "no candidate for any judicial or school office shall be nominated or elected upon any party tickets nor shall any designation of party or principles represented be used in the nomination or election of any such candidate." Ohio 8 and Washington provided for a separate non-partisan judiciary ballotin the first case for all elective judges, and in the second for judges of the Supreme Court and of the Superior Court. In Ohio—where such separate non-partisan ballots had already been provided for in the case
• Ch. 188; April 15.
Ch. 333; June 14.
of members of school boards and of township assessors of real property —the names of all the candidates for each office are to be arranged according to the rotary system. In Washington only the two candidates who have secured the largest number of votes at a non-partisan judicial primary election (which was provided for in 1909), are to have their names placed on the separate general election ballot. When any candidate has received an absolute majority at the primary election, the name of no opposing candidate is to be printed on the general election ballot, but instead a blank space is to be left under the name of the majority candidate in which the voter may write any name he pleases.
Delaware has provided for a non-partisan ballot for the election of municipal officers in the city of Newcastle.10 The ballot is to be of the 'office-group" form, without party designations, and the names of the candidates are to be arranged alphabetically under each office. The candidates' names are to be placed on the ballot by the mere filing of a notice of candidacy and the payment of a fee. In marking the ballot the voter is to indicate his vote for any given candidate by drawing a line through the names of all other candidates for the same office.
The commission government acts adopted in a number of states, as well as the special charters of the commission form adopted for a number of cities, also provides, with very few exceptions, for a non-partisan "office-group" ballot for municipal elections. It is interesting to know that, in connection with this form of ballot, both at primary elections and at general elections, the rotary arrangement of the candidates' names (mentioned above as having been adopted in California) is becoming more and more common. This arrangement has even been adopted in North Dakota," in connection with the party column form of ballot at general elections, for all offices to which two or more persons are to be elected.
No less encouraging than the general tendency away from the prevailing American form of ballot, and toward a simpler and fairer form, is the recent unanimous decision of the New York Court of Appeals 12 declaring unconstitutional the attempt of the New York legislature, under the domination of Tammany Hall, to render fusion movements in New
10 Ch. 209; March 28. 11 Ch. 130; March 17. 1: In the Matter of Hopper v. Britt, 203 N. Y. 144; decided October 10, 1911.