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tralian ballot is to secure secrecy, an honest election, and
an orderly, quiet election day. Polling-places can not be
in or adjoining a saloon, must be in a clean, light, respect-
able room on a street, instead of an alley. The use of the
schoolhouses for election places is gaining favor. There
is no valid reason why the people's own property should
not be thus used with due regard to its primary purpose
as a school. This would save thousands of dollars every
election now paid for rent of polling-places and provide
clean, respectable election places as well.


The polls are open in large cities from 6. a. m. to 4 p. m. ;
in country districts and small cities from 7 a. m. to 5 p.
m. Every voter is allowed two hours' absence from his
work without loss of wages to vote, if he gives due notice
to his employer and arranges the hours with him. All
primary and election days are legal holidays for banks and
government offices, but not for schools or business in gen-

Elaborate " Cards of Instructions to Voters " are posted
in every precinct ten days before the election and serve
as a guide to the regular polling place in each precinct be-
cause one card is always posted on the door.

In Chicago, Cicero, and East St. Louis, where the elec-
tion act has been adopted, an unregistered voter must lose
his vote ; he can not swear it in on election day. But else-
where in the State he has this privilege if he brings a reg-
istered householder (one who owns or rents a house) as
witness to his legal qualifications.

Criticisms. The principal objections to the Australian
ballot as used in Illinois are ( i ) the required party column
and circle; (2) the large number of names and the size
of the sheet used, making the ballot cumbersome to handle,
complicated to mark and difficult to count.

Counting the Ballots. The counting begins as soon as
the polls are closed and is done by the judges and clerks
of the election, who make out the tally-sheets and report
the results to the county clerk, or to the election commis-
sioners. Each party and candidate is allowed a watcher
while the counting goes on to see that no mistakes are made.
In spite of all precautions, there are usually protests filed
with the county judge after every election, claiming a wrong
count of the ballots. Then the votes must be canvassed,


or even entirely recounted, by order of the county judge at
great expense of time and money.

A Presidential Preference Vote was provided by act of
the Legislature of 1913. This provides that the name of
any candidate for president be printed on the primary
ballot under the name of his political party, provided a
petition is presented " not more than sixty or less than
thirty days before the April primary," signed by " not less
than 1,000 or more than 2,000 primary electors of the
party of which he is a candidate." " This vote shall be
for the sole purpose of securing an expression of the senti-
ment and will of the party voters with respect to candidates
for nomination for said office." (Session Laws, 1913, pp.
330, 331.) In a separate act, provision is also made for
the nomination of candidates for United States senator at
the April primary. The next United States senator from
Illinois will be nominated at the April primaries and elected
by popular vote at the general election in November 1918.

The " Little Ballot." The " little ballot " is the term
applied to a bond issue, or any proposition submitted on a
separate ballot to the people for their approval or rejec-
tion. This is the only form of the referendum possessed
at present by the voters of Illinois. A comprehensive " I.
and R." (initiative and referendum) "joint resolution"
for a constitutional amendment passed the State senate but
was defeated by one vote in the house in June, 1913.

Initiative and Referendum. A true referendum also
refers to the people certain laws, passed or defeated, by
the General Assembly. If approved by a majority of votes
cast at any general or special election, it becomes a law
without the consent of the Legislature.

The initiative is the other half of the people's right to


make laws for themselves if they can" not secure a needed
law from the Legislature. On a petition signed by a cer-
tain number of voters, a law considered necessary can be
proposed by the people without any action on the part of
the General Assembly. It may then be submitted at the
next general election, passed by a referendum vote, and be
placed on the statute books through the direct action of the

Public Policy Law. The General Assembly in 1901
passed what is known as the " public policy " or " public
opinion " law. This provides that upon petition of ten
per cent, of the voters of the State, any question of public
policy may be submitted to the voters at any State, or gen-
eral election. No more than three such questions can be
submitted at any one election and they must be printed on a
separate ballot, known popularly as the " little ballot."
This vote of the people in no wise binds the Legislature,
but is merely to serve as an index of public opinion on any
important matter of public policy and to indicate what the
people want. Such questions as State-wide civil service,
initiative and referendum, and a corrupt practices act have
received approval at the hands of Illinois voters through
the public policy law. But no General Assembly has yet
obeyed the desire of the voters on these important public

Voting Machines. Illinois has a Voting Machine
Law, passed in 1903, whereby any city, village, or town
may adopt a suitable voting machine for use in all elections
except for school officers. The term " suitable machine "
is defined by the board of voting-machine commissioners!
consisting of the governor and two mechanical experts who
are to examine and pass on all machines submitted to elec-


tion officers in the State. The law makes many restric-
tions and requirements for any recommended voting-ma-
chine. Under its authority a contract for 1,000 voting
machines costing nearly one million dollars was signed by
the election commissioners in Chicago in 1911. Because of
haste in letting the contract and carelessness in accepting
untested machines in large numbers, there were objections
by many citizens to this contract when a large appropria-
tion was asked from the city council in part payment. A
legislative investigation of the entire contract was ordered
by the General Assembly and is still incomplete. The Chi-
cago Bureau of Public Efficiency has two admirable reports
on this voting-machine contract. Study these reports to
find out how municipal contracts are too often let.

Criticism. The election laws issued by the election com-
missioners for Chicago and the same law applied to the rest
of the State, issued by the secretary of state, contains sev-
eral hundred pages. To this mass of material for the guid-
ance of election officers must be added the primary law with
scores of amendments. To make the situation worse, every
legislature piles on amendments. Great are the difficulties
confronting judges and clerks of election in applying the
machinery of such a complicated law, to say nothing of the
troubles of the average voter. Can an ignorant voter be
taught to " split his ballot " ? No wonder a majority of the
voters take refuge in a cross in the party circle and therefore
play into the hands of the politicians who run the party ma-
chines. A shorter, more simple ballot is imperatively de-
manded in the interests of good government in this State.
Illinois suffers more than any other State, except New
York, from a multiplicity of elective officers, and Cook
County has the longest ballot, at the quadrennial November


elections, owing to the seventy odd county officers to be
selected by ballot.

The Cost of Elections. The cost of elections for Chi-
cago and Cook County in 1912 nearly reached the million-
dollar mark. Yet there has been an enormous increase in
the cost of these elections in the last three years due to
more election, primary and registration days; to increased
pay for election officers in Chicago, granted by the legisla-
ture, and to the increase in the number of precincts in Chi-
cago and in the county at large. The new women voters
also add their share to this growing cost of elections; but
the women are certain their votes are worth to the com-
munity all they cost. The grand total of the appropriations
made by the Chicago council and the Cook County board
for the elections in 1916 is the astounding sum of $1,906,-
405. It seems hardly credible that it needs to cost such
an enormous amount for the voters of one county to regis-
ter their will at the ballot box in a presidential year, even
altho that county contains over one-third the population
of Illinois. If the city and judicial primaries were abol-
ished, a large saving would be effected probably a half
million dollars. Nominations for city and judicial officers
should be by petition only and party columns and party
names should be eliminated from judicial and municipal

The heaviest single item in election expenses is the pay of
the judges and clerks. There are three judges and two
clerks to a precinct, each receiving $5 a day for his serv-
ices, except in Chicago, where the pay is higher on account
of the more exacting duties required of election officers and
because of compulsory registration. There are now nearly
2,200 precincts in Chicago alone and the pay of judges and


clerks for registration, primary and election days, rental of
polling places, printing ballots, cartage of ballot boxes and
booths, legal advertising and for all other legitimate election
expenses amount to the spectacular sum of $1,206,405 for
the presidential year of 1916. There are 209 precincts in
Cook County outside of Chicago and the County board has
appropriated $720,000 for the county's share of the election
bills for 1916. Some way will have to be found to reduce
these huge and constantly increasing election bills.

One economy could be effected by reducing the number
of elected officials, thus cutting down the size of the ballot
and saving a tremendous amount of time in counting the
votes for candidates a reform greatly needed in the in-
terest of better as well as less expensive government. Some
relief can come through legislative action, but the " short
cut " to all these changes and economies lies through a con-
stitutional convention and a new constitution adapted to the
needs of a great and progressing State.



1. Forman : American Republic, pp. 301-307.

2. Forman: Advanced Civics, pp. 377-384.

3. James and Sanford : Government in State and Nation, pp. 62-69.

4. Greene : Government of Illinois, pp. 146-159.

5. Winchell: Civic Manual, pp. 214-218.

6. Guitteau: Government and Politics in United States, pp. 115-127.

7. Boynton and Upton : Supplement, pp. 51-6.

8. McCleary : Studies in Civics, ch. ii, iii, vii, and xv. (These

chapters are especially valuable for high-school pupils, though
not written for Illinois.)

" No man's property is safe and no man's welfare is assured where
justice is denied to the poor, or where crime goes unpunished; no
State can prosper where human rights are not respected." DAVID A.

There are two parties to every suit: The plaintiff, or
complainant, the party who brings the suit, claiming he has
suffered some wrong; the defendant, or person accused of
having committed the wrong.

" Cases arise in two ways : Through differences in the
interpretation of the law, and through its violation/'

There are two kinds of cases : Criminal, where a law
has been broken and therefore the plaintiff is always the
State ; civil, where a private right is to be protected or en-
forced and the resulting suit is between two persons or cor-

Common examples of causes of civil actions are non-



fulfilment of contracts, as a failure to finish a building on
time; failure to pay lawful debts, as a butcher's or tailor's
bill ; relations of employer and employee, as where damages
are claimed because of injuries received while at work.

All criminal actions are defined by law and penalties are
provided for their commission. A civil suit calls for dam-
ages in the shape of money ; a criminal suit means imprison-
ment, or a fine, sometimes both.


I. Preliminary to the Trial.

1. Complaint, sworn to by the plaintiff before a jus-

tice of the peace, police magistrate, or judge, caus-
ing him to issue the

2. Summons. This is served on the defendant, di-

recting him to appear in court himself, or by his

3. Pleadings: drawn up by the lawyers on both sides,

stating the charge and the answer to it. Plead-
ings are always in writing.

4. Venires, or summons to the jurors, served if a jury

is required. Frequently a jury is waived by
both sides and the case is tried by the judge.

5. Subpoenas, or summons to witnesses, compelling

them to appear at the trial to give their testimony
" under penalty " should they fail to appear.

II. The Trial

1. Opening Statement, usually made by the plaintiff's

lawyer, stating the ground of action.

2. Securing a Jury. Jurors are examined as to their

fitness and whether they can honestly " swear to


try the case according to the law and evidence
without prejudice or favor." Challenges are al-
lowed both sides and are of two kinds : " For
cause," and " Peremptory," without any cause
given. The number of these challenges allowed
depends entirely on the kind of case and is pre-
scribed by law.

3. When the jury has been accepted and sworn in, the

witnesses for the plaintiff are called first. They
are put on oath, give their testimony, and are
cross-examined by the attorney for the defend-
ant. The witnesses for the defense are then
questioned by the defendant's attorney and cross-
examined by the plaintiff's lawyer. The evidence
includes the testimony of all the witnesses and
any documents, or legal papers, offered as part
of the evidence.

4. Now come the arguments of the lawyers in behalf

of their clients, when they review the case and
present the facts brought out by the witnesses in
the most favorable light for their 'client.

5. Charge to the Jury is given by the judge to instruct

them in the law concerning this special case, or
if an equity case, referring to the decisions of
courts involving the same general principles.
This is not given in a justice of the peace's court
because such a petty officer is not required to be
a lawyer or especially familiar with points of law.

6. The case then goes to the jury, who retire to make

up their verdict, or decision. This verdict, in
a civil action, states who wins the suit and recom-
mends a certain amount of damages in addition


to the costs of the suit, which must be borne by
the loser.

7. The judgment is given by the judge in accordance
with the verdict, and includes damages, the
amount awarded the winning party and all costs
of the suit, except lawyers' fees. Each side must
pay its own lawyers. If the judgment is not
satisfied within a certain time by paying it, the
victorious party secures from the court an exe-
cution. This directs the forcible carrying out of
the judgment by the sale of property. In Illinois
$400 worth of personal property for a married
man is "exempt from execution"; $100 worth
if he is single.

Of course the loser often appeals the case to a higher court,
or gets the judge to grant a new trial, so it may be years
before the judgment is paid, even if it should be sustained
in the higher court.


In a criminal case a complaint must be sworn to before
a justice of the peace, or other judicial officer and at once
a warrant for the arrest of the supposed criminal is issued
and served by a constable, sheriff, or policeman, according
to the court where it is obtained. The offender is brought
before the court, and if the charge is a misdemeanor, or
small offense, as petty larceny stealing under ten dollars
in value or disorderly conduct, the case may be tried
at once before the justice of the peace, or a municipal court.
But should the charge be a felony, or " high crime," as
highway robbery, and therefore a penitentiary offense, then



the accused person by Illinois law must " await the action
of a grand jury " and be indicted by majority vote of that
body of twenty-three jurors before he can be tried. His
case may not be reached in weeks, and even then the grand
jury may find no " true bill " against him. To compel a
person only suspected of crime to lie in jail under such
circumstances, is unjust.

So bail is allowed, and on presenting proper sureties for
his bail bond, or money pledged to assure his presence at
the trial, he may be set at liberty pending the action of the
grand jury. The grand jury need not wait for the State's
attorney to offer the indictment against the person, but they
may bring in a presentment when they know of evidence
showing a person has broken some law, and may vote that
a " true bill " should i~3ue against the person. But usually
the State's attorney brings in the evidence against the per-
son accused all the grand jury ever hears and indict-
ment follows if enough evidence is produced. 1 (i)

For the trial a petit, or " little " trial jury of twelve un-
prejudiced men is necessary, and when they are sworn in,
the arraignment of the prisoner follows, when the indict-
ment is read stating the charge against him.

This is followed by his plea, or answer to the arraign-
ment. Should he plead " guilty," and " throw himself on
the mercy of the court," he usually receives a lighter sen-
tence from the judge. But if he pleads " not guilty," then
the witnesses are called and the steps in the trial are similar
to those in a civil action, except a sentence usually im-
prisonment is given instead of the judgment. If the
sentence is imprisonment, the prisoner is taken to the peni-

1 For comparison of a grand and petit jury in Illinois, see p. 122.


tentiary at Joliet or Chester, 2 by the sheriff, or his deputy,
and begins serving his time. By good conduct after one
year in prison, he may be paroled and allowed to resume
his ordinary work on condition he report at regular in-
tervals to the warden of the prison, or to an adult probation
officer to whom he is assigned.

He may have an indeterminate sentence given him by the
judge, and then good conduct while in prison will diminish
his time by many months. He may also seek the governor's
pardoning power and then his case goes first to the board
of pardons for investigation and their recommendation, al-
though the governor is not obliged to follow the recom-

Illinois allows capital punishment for " murder in the
first degree," viz., a cold-blooded murder. The execu-
tion of five young men in 1912 in Cook County jail for the
atrocious murder of a truck farmer is the most recent illus-
tration of capital punishment on a large scale in Illinois.
Such wholesale execution in the name of the law has led
to a growing demand that capital punishment be abolished
by the Legislature. A bill to this effect failed in the last
General Assembly, 1913. Give three arguments for and
against the death penalty for murder.

Penal Institutions. Illinois maintains three penal in-
stitutions for the entire State : The penitentiary at Joliet ;
the southern penitentiary at Chester for insane criminals;
State reformatory for boys over seventeen at Pontiac. All
female prisoners are kept in the women's quarters at Joliet.

The Legislature in 1903 abolished contract labor in the
prisons and substituted a board of prison industries com-

2 The State penitentiary at Chester is intended mainly for the criminal


posed of the commissioners of the three penal institutions.
This law provides that the State may employ not more
than forty per cent, of its convicts in manufacturing goods
to be sold in open market, but not until all the needs of the
State institutions are supplied. The convicts now make
furniture, mattresses, brooms, cheap grades of clothes,
shoes, wooden ware. The remaining able-bodied convicts
must be employed on work for the State. There is. pro-
vision under certain conditions to allow part of the money
earned by a convict to be paid to his family or relatives.
He also has an opportunity by this means to save money
which will be paid him when he leaves the prison. The
net profits of this convict labor for ten years are $545,000,
which has been paid into the State treasury. This sum is
in addition to machinery and equipment purchased out of
the profits and many thousand dollars set aside as earnings
of the convicts themselves. The larger share of this prison
labor is employed crushing stone to be used on the public
highways. There is an immense demand for this crushed
stone, which is furnished free to any township, county, or
road district applying for it through the State highway
commission and paying all freight charges. The railroads,
however, charge such high rates that practically only towns
within a. certain freight zone get the benefit of this convict-
made crushed stone. Here is an opportunity for the new
Public-Utilities Commission, which began work in 1914,
to help the good roads movement by compelling a juster
freight rate on prison-crushed stone for road-building.
There are about 1,400 convicts at Joliet and about 300
each at Pontiac and Chester. A recent law provides for
,a new penitentiary on a farm of not less than one thousand
acres, located near Joliet, and the prison at Chester is to


be moved to the same farm. Convicts are to be employed
out of doors wherever possible. Illinois is certainly " mov-
ing forward " in her care of criminals. (Report of Board
of Prison Industries, 1912.)

Convict Labor. Illinois is the first State east of the
Rocky Mountains to try the experiment of putting State
prisoners at road-building. Colorado (2), Washington, and
Oregon have been building roads with " honor convicts "
for the last two years, and the system has proved of double
value ; the States have fine roads at a very low cost, and the
convicts gain much in health and renewed self-respect be-
cause they are treated like men.

A band of forty-five convicts, put solely on their honor,
were sent out in August 1913, from Joliet, to build roads
near Dixon, Illinois. They were to work as long as the
weather permitted their camp to be maintained. No armed
guards were with the men ; they wore the clothes of common
laborers, and had much freedom after working-hours. The
experiment was successful and has been repeated each sum-
mer since that year.

Difficulties in Law Enforcement. " Not officers
alone, but any citizen, may make a complaint against law-
breakers. But private citizens find it difficult to discover
sufficient evidence upon which to make a sworn statement.
It is much easier for the average citizen to let such matters
alone and attend to his own private business. In the mean-
time, public funds may be stolen, or the public health of the
community threatened, or the young people put in danger
of moral corruption, all for the lack of a complaint, specific
in its accusations, and supported by definite information.
These reasons most frequently answer the question, ' Why
is not the law enforced ? ' At bottom, it is a question of


public conscience. In communities where a low moral
standard prevails, a few determined leaders, willing to sac-
rifice time, labor, and comfort for the public good, have
sometimes aroused the public to action. No service to the
community is more to be commended than this." 3

The Law's Delays. " Other causes of discontent
with our judicial system arise in connection with court pro-
cedure. Justice is often delayed through the postponement
of cases for trivial reasons. Criminal cases may drag
along for months, until the public interest subsides. A
wealthy litigant may secure postponements until the re-

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Online LibraryMary Louise ChildsActual government in Illinois → online text (page 8 of 16)