United States History on Proxies



(001) In 1635-36, Massachusetts granted to the frontier towns "liberty to stay so many of their freemen at home for the safety of their towne as they judge needful, and that the said freemen that are appointed by the towne to stay at home shall have liberty for this court to send their voices by proxy."


(002) According to Charles Seymour and Donald Paige Frary, had not proxy voting been implemented, the inhabitants of the frontier towns would have lost their franchises, and the government would have represented only the freemen in the vicinity of Boston.


(003) The roads were poor; the drawing of all a village's men at once would have exposed it to Indian attacks; and at election time, the emigrants' labor was needed to get the spring planting into the ground.


(004) As late as 1680, and probably even after the charter was revoked in 1684, the Freeman might give his vote for Magistrates in person or proxy at the Court of Elections.


(005) Proxy voting was also adopted in colonies adjacent to Massachusetts.


(006) Indeed, traces of the practice of proxy voting remained in Connecticut's election laws until the final supersedure of her charter in 1819.


(007) In Maryland, the primary assemblies allowed proxy voting.


(008) After the assembly of 1638, protests were sent to the proprietor in England.


(009) It was said that the Governor and his friends were able to exercise too much influence through the proxies they had obtained.


(010) Proxy voting was also used in South Carolina; the proprietors in September 1683 complained to the governor about this system.


(011) Proxy voting was used in Long Island, New York as well, at that time.


(012) Phraseology was sometimes designed to hide the fact that a proxy system was in use and that the majority of voters did not actually attend the elections.


(013) In Rhode Island, the system described as a "proxy" system, from 1664 onward, was actually simply the sending of written ballots from voters who did not attend the election, rather than a true proxy system, as in the assembly of 1647.


(014) In Alabama, the Perry County Civic League's members' assisting illiterate voters by marking a ballot on their behalf was deemed "proxy voting" and "voting more than once" and thus held to be illegal.


(015) During the American Civil War, some northern soldiers used proxy voting.


(016) After Ira Eastman’s near-victory in New Hampshire, Republicans supported a bill to allow soldiers to vote by proxy, but it was ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court.


(017) In the Progressive Era, proxy voting was used in Republican Party state conventions in New Hampshire.


(018) The Boston and Maine Railroad, the Republican Party's ally, maintained control over the Party by means of these conventions.


(019) "At the 1906 state convention, for instance, party delegates were quite willing to trade, sell, or exchange their voting power in return for various forms of remuneration from the party machine.


(020) Public outcry led to the end of such 'proxy' voting".


(021) Proxy voting was used in some American U.S. Presidential nominating caucuses.


(022) In one case, Eugene McCarthy’s supporters were in the majority of those present but were outvoted when the presiding party official cast 492 proxy votes – three times the number present – for his own slate of delegates.


(023) After the nomination of Hubert Humphrey, the New Politics movement charged that Humphrey and party bosses had circumvented the will of Democratic Party members by manipulating the rules to Humphrey's advantage.


(024) In response, the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection, also known as the McGovern-Fraser Commission, was created to rework the rules in time for the 1972 Democratic National Convention.


(025) State parties were required to ban proxy voting in order to have their delegates seated at the national convention.


(026) It was said that these rules had been used in "highly selective" ways.


(027) Several attempts have been made to place proxy voting-related initiatives on the California ballot, but all have failed.