Fraud Charged

Topeka State Journal/March 18, 1895


The Republican Primaries Conducted Dishonestly

 According to the Statements of Many Witnesses.


No Doubt About This, For They Admit It

An Election Judge Says Democrats Voted


Repeaters By Hundreds Said to Have Voted

Mayor Harrison Says There Were 1,000 Fraudulent Votes In One Precinct

More Votes Are Cast Than There Are Voters

Fellows’ Majority 192 On the Face of Returns

On the face of the returns C A. Fellows was nominated for mayor at the Republican primaries on Saturday by a majority of 192. But the charge of grossest frauds are made everywhere, and until these charges are untangled and the truth reached, it is impossible to tell where the truth is.

There is more excitement on the streets today over the results of the primary than was developed last fall over the state election. Men are talking politics today who have never taken any interest in politics before. The charges of fraud are made by the wholesale, and there is no doubt that many Democrats voted, and it is also freely charged that repeating was practiced at many of the precincts. All of these charges cannot now be verified. It will take time to hunt the evidence and prove them.

T. Stewart, one of the Harrison workers at the second precinct of the Fifth ward, says that men and women from Smoky Row were run in and voted there by the Fellows workers. One crowd of a dozen or more was challenged by Stewart after two or three had voted, and the rest at once left the building.

Albert Barton, a supervisor of the east precinct in the Fifth ward says Democrats and people who lived in the Third and Second wards voted at his precinct and he was powerless to prevent it without force.

Why Was This Vote So Big?

It is at that precinct that color is given to the charges of fraud by the unusually large vote cast. In the spring election two years ago in that precinct, when there were three candidates for mayor, the total vote Republican, Democratic and Populist was only 297. At the primary Saturday 510 votes were cast. The boundaries of the precinct had been changed but Deputy Commissioner of Elections Whitaker says that the change would not affect the total vote.

The total number of votes registered in this precinct last year was 487. The number of men registered at the fall election was 416, and the number of women registered at the spring election was 71. This registration includes the voters of all political parties, and this time more votes were cast than there are voters in the precinct.

The following people who live in the Third ward voted in the Second precinct of the Fifth: Henry King of 1000 Washington street, Q. W. Lemly and wife, Bertie Pollard and a white man named Thomas, C H. Roof and John Hewett, Democrats, voted unchallenged.

It is not known whether the voters from the Third ward voted in both wards or not.

In the First ward where Councilman M. C. Holman was defeated, but Fellows carried the ward, Holman charges that the Skinner men were guilty of fraud. He says that Tom Hanley and his wife voted, and Hanley was Holman’s Democratic opponent two years ago. He claims that he can show numerous cases of fraud and wants an investigation.

Harrison May Contest

Mayor Harrison intends to contest the nomination before the city central committee tonight, and a half dozen girls were employed this morning to copy the tally sheets to find out whether there had been repeating and how many Democrats voted. Some of the supporters of Fellows heard what was being done and at once protested that the tally sheet should not be touched until after the recount. They were then put away after only a few of the names had been copied.

The committee will make a careful recount, and that may change the face of the returns. There are several other candidates besides the mayor who claim they were nominated, among them Constables Ross and Stonestreet. They think the official count may fix things all right.

A Curious Surplus Vote

Mayor Harrison shows by figures that over 1,000 more votes were cast for mayor than for councilmen. This he regards as suspicious. The vote was as follows:


First Ward

 Mayor: 1,065

Councilman: 1,036

Excess: 29

Second Ward

Mayor: 1,490

Councilman: 1,088

Excess: 402

Third Ward

Mayor: 1,634

Councilman: 1,238

Excess: 396

Fourth Ward

Mayor: 1,374

Councilman: 1,141

Excess: 233

Fifth Ward

Mayor: 870

Councilman: 714

Excess: 156


Total excess: 1,216

Total vote on mayor: 6,432

Total vote on city clerk: 5.434

Excess for mayor: 998

The votes for mayor were in excess of those for treasurer, 1,511; and those for city attorney, 1,277.

What Harrison Says

Says Mayor Harrison: “The vote on justices of the peace and constables cannot be included in this estimate, for there were twelve candidates for justice and only three to elect, and five candidates for constable and only three to elect, so that the single vote on any one candidate for justice or constable could not be told. But on any office where only one is to be elected it is easy to see the stuffed vote for mayor.

“There were five candidates for clerk, each working hard to get out a full vote and have every possible vote cast, and it is not at all probable that 1,000 honest voters, would go to the polls and vote for mayor and not vote for some candidate for clerk, so that there must have been nearly 1,000 repeaters who voted for mayor.

“The vote for treasurer and attorney fully corroborates this statement. There were three well known candidates for attorney, and two for treasurer, each with his friends working for a full vote, and yet there were 1,277 more votes for mayor than for all the candidates for attorney, and 1,511 more for mayor than for both candidates for treasurer.”

Central Committee Quarrels

The Republican city central committee is also in great trouble on account of the primaries Saturday. The committee was in session at the city clerk’s office Saturday night and remained in session until 6 o’clock Sunday morning, but did not complete the count of the votes and made no announcement of the result.

Between 5 and 6 o’clock yesterday morning when the charges of fraud were being made an effort was made to have the committee adjourn over Sunday. This motion was defeated, but Carey Johnson, Albert Barton, Frank Snyder and David Naylor, Harrison members of the committee, left the room immediately in anger, which left the committee without a quorum and unable to do business.

The members. of the committee who remained were: S. S. McFadden, chairman; Ed Hawes, secretary; W. A. S. Bird; L. S. Ferry; Henry Scales; and Lee Currier. They remained in session but a short time, and at 6 o’clock Sunday morning adjourned to meet at 7:30 o’clock this evening at the city clerk’s office to complete the count and announce the result.

Fellows Willing for Investigation

Mr. C. A. Fellows said today that he wants the fullest investigation possible, as he does not want to rest under the charge of being nominated by dishonest voters and questionable methods. He says he is just as much in favor of an investigation as Mayor Harrison. Mr. G. E. Dunn, one of the judges of election in the Fourth precinct of the Second ward, today told Mayor Harrison that over one hundred Democrats voted in that precinct and that he tried to keep them out but failed. Many stories are being told on the streets about individual Democrats who voted at the primaries, but it would take weeks to see these voters personally, and as the poll books are locked up in the vaults of the city clerk’s office and can’t be seen until the central committee meets tonight, there is no way of telling whether all of these stories are true or not.

Dr.W. H. Righter, who is a well known Democrat, voted in the fourth precinct of the Third ward.

Old Time Democrats Vote

When asked about his action by a State Journal reporter he said: “Yes I voted as I had a right to do, as I expect to support the nominee. I will vote for the man who was nominated.” Dr. Righter’s statement looks fair, but the rule of the primaries was that none but known Republicans should be allowed to vote and Dr. Righter is well known as a Democrat.

Albert Earnest, the old time Democrat, denies that he voted but admits he also spent the entire day working for Fellows. R.S. Brigham, the sign painter and a long-time Democrat, voted in the Third ward.

The very serious charges of fraud in repeating and the voting of Democrats should be fully investigated and the duty of the members of the city central committee is plain. The result should not be announced until the most full and careful investigation is made and not a single questionable vote should be counted.

The Returns

The returns as canvassed Sunday morning show the following results. The complete figures can’t be obtained because the books are now locked up by the central committee:

Fellows’ majority, 192.

Elliott’s majority for city treasurer, 453.

Tillotson’s plurality for city attorney, 22.

Grover, Furry and Guy were nominated for justices, and Williams, Davis and Wintrode for constables.

Skinner’s majority over Holman for councilman of the First ward was 38.

Stevens’ majority in the Second was 216. There were two candidates against him.

In the Third ward Elliott’s majority over Holland was 40.

In the Fourth ward, Drew’s majority over Hollcraft was 275.

In the Fifth ward, Roundtree (colored) beat Swanson by 76 votes.

For the school board the following candidates were nominated: First ward, Priddy; Second ward, Wilson; Third ward, Macferran; Fourth ward, Powell; Fifth ward, Westarfield.


Color Line in Fifth Ward

 White Voters Want to Run a White Man Against Roundtree, Colored

A sort of race war is likely to keep Fifth ward politicians busy between now and election day. The trouble is all over the nomination of Fred Roundtree, a colored man for councilman at Saturday’s primaries. There is a large colored population in the Fifth ward, but there are more white than colored people in the ward and if a color line fight is drawn the colored man may be defeated. It is freely charged today that Dr. J. M. Westerfield, who was a candidate for renomination for member of the school board, is responsible for the nomination of Roundtree to the council. It is charged that Westerfield and Roundtree formed a combination by which Westerfield turned the votes of his white friends to Roundtree and Roundtree in turn gave Westerfield the colored vote. The combination was successful, and both Westerfield and Roundtree were nominated. The white politicians of the ward are now talking of bringing out independent candidates against both Roundtree and Westerfield. Mr. Roundtree is a very intelligent man, and abundantly qualified to fill the office. The defeated candidates were Charles Swanson, for councilman, and Major G. W. Burge, for member of the school board.


How Easy Fraud Is

 Shown by the Way the Primary Election Was Conducted

Mayor Harrison charges that 1,000 repeaters voted at the primaries. It is possible that 1,000 illegal votes were cast, but 100 men voting in ten different precincts would change the re suit 1,000 votes. The Australian ballot for primaries is all very well, but it will never be a guarantee of an honest and fair election until all the Republican voters of the city are registered and the votes cast at a primary are governed by the same restrictions they are at a regular election. At Saturday s primaries the voters were simply asked their names, and even if they were strangers to the judges and supervisors their votes were taken without question. There is no record to show where the unknown voters reside, and consequently no way of telling whether the voter resided in the ward or not; if the repeaters gave fictitious names, as in some of the precincts the judges took only the names and not the residences of the voters. If the residence of the voters had been taken in every instance, the repeaters could now be traced and exposed.

(Source: Chronicling America,

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