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Boss Hague
King Hanky-Panky of Jersey

Part 6

By Jack Alexander

Originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on October 26, 1940
Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2002

The “Graveyard” Vote Estimates of the fraudulent registrations in Hudson County and of the “dead” registrations which can be converted to fraudulent use run from 50,000 to 75,000. New Jersey’s permanent registration law is largely to blame for this. Under the law, registration officials are supposed periodically to pare from the lists the names of the dead and moved-away, but Hague has managed to fore stall them for years and his repeaters amass a big “cemetery” or “ghost” vote on every election day.

Through the use of typical old-time politics tricks, Hague came off top man in the first brush with the Republicans over the padded lists. Early last June the legislature passed a bill requiring that after September first, voting machines were to be used in Hudson County. Governor Moore faithfully vetoed it. It was repassed, over his veto, on June twenty-fifth. Hague now took refuge behind the Constitution. He had his county Board of Freeholders, all of whom are Democrats, ask for an opinion on the constitutionality of the law from County Counsel J. Emil Walseheid. That was on June twenty-seventh. Walseheid drafted his opinion a few days later, but kept it on ice for two months. On August twenty-ninth he delivered the expected verdict, “The law is unconstitutional and may for that reason be ignored by your honorable body.” The honorable body passed a resolution ignoring the statute. The design of this temporizing appeared to be to make as difficult as possible the installation of voting machines in time for the election. Ordinarily, sixty days are required to put an order through a voting-machine factory. Slightly more than sixty days remained before November fifth, but Hague stood ready to postpone the order-giving further by resorting to a constitutional fight in the courts. The mayor, who is not famous for official thrift, professed to be outraged because the machines would cost Hudson County $1,000,000.

The legislature got tough. On September sixteenth, it passed a bill empowering the state to purchase the voting machines and charge off the cost by reducing state aid to Hudson. Apparently, the legislative leaders knew of ways of getting an order through a factory with more than the usual speed. A second bill authorized the use of state police at the polls to see that the election laws were obeyed.

The Hague organization’s response to the broadside was emotional, patriotic and beautiful. With a catch in his throat, Mayor Hague warned that 40,000 of his humbler subjects would be disfranchised because they would find the pernicious voting machines too complicated to master. The membership of the Hudson County Bar Association was assembled to pass resolutions resenting the mud which had been hurled at the fair name of Hudson. Hague cried out against the “threatened invasion of Jersey City” and announced that on September thirtieth he would make “one of the most important speeches” of his career. He promised to stage “one of the biggest indignation and protest meetings ever held in the state,” with 50,000 marchers, each carrying an American flag. “Government in Hudson County is sincere and honest,” Hague piously declared.

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