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Unparalleled blunders cost 39,000 votes — State Journal editorial from 160 years ago

May 12, 2019

This State Journal report ran on May 6, 1859:

The official canvass of the votes cast at the recent election was completed this morning. The canvassers threw out 39,255 votes on account of informalities in the returns.

The reason for their rejection included ... that county seals were not attached to them ... and the returns were not canvassed on the day fixed by the statute for the county canvass.

After (those votes) were rejected, the official canvass gives the following as the vote for Supreme Court judge:

Byron Paine, 40,500

William P. Lynde, 38,355

The total vote of the state, including those votes that were rejected, is 118,163. To this must be added the vote of 49 towns rejected for informalities by the county canvassers, or not returned until too late to be counted.

These will bring the vote of the state at the last election fully up to that for president in 1856, again showing that in order to secure a Republican victory in this state, we only need to get out a full vote.

The blunders of the county canvassers, or clerks, seem inexcusable. Forms in blank are supplied them by the state, and nothing but the grossest negligence or stupidity can account for the manner in which they are filled out and sent to the Capitol.

The canvassers have done right in our opinion, in insisting upon a strict compliance with the formalities of the law, and we trust the disfranchisement of those counties (from which votes were rejected) will learn them a lesson in the future.

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