Tammany Hall was the infamous New York political machine of the Democratic Party in the mid-1800s, and responsible for defrauding that State’s taxpayers of up to $200 million through political corruption. William M. “Boss” Tweed was its ringleader, also known as the “Grand Sachem.” Tammany raged against Lincoln’s draft in 1863, warning that Republican victories at the polls meant the Southern Negro would come North and compete against white labor. In 1868, the total votes cast in New York City exceeded the number of possible voters by more than eight percent. The frauds perpetrated by Tweed were so blatant that even the ruling Republican party in DC, no stranger to election fraud itself, initiated an investigation as most election frauds were directed against Republican candidates.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Tammany Welcomes New Voters in New York
“The 1868 election was almost certainly the most crookedest in the city’s history, either before or since. In preparation for the event, Tammany Hall had opened up its treasury and allotted $1,000 to each election district (of which there were 327 in the city, for a total of $327,000) for electioneering.
More than six weeks before the election [Tammany] embarked on a massive campaign to naturalized recent immigrants, a drive that was for the most part illegal and that yielded a total of 41,112 new voters – of whom probably 85 percent dutifully voted the straight Tammany ticket in November.
In preparation for [the election], Tweed’s New York Printing Company ran off 105,000 blank application forms and 69,000 certificates of naturalization. [Tammany] opened offices throughout the city where foreigners could fill out their applications and where witnesses were available to swear to anyone’s eligibility on receipt of a token fee.
“There are men in New York,” said one investigator, “whom you can buy to make a false oath for a glass of beer.” One witness for hire, James Goff, swore to the “good moral character” of no fewer than 669 applicants; two days later he was arrested for stealing.
So eager was Tammany Hall to bring in new citizens that it authorized free-lance naturalization brokers to act in its name. [One] operator told an undercover agent that he alone had obtained citizenship for seven thousand persons.
In 1866 Judge Albert Cardozo had performed nobly for Tammany, often granting naturalization papers to as many as eight hundred persons a day, most of them sight unseen; most of the citizenships were questionable (in one five-minute period he naturalized thirteen persons).
New citizens had to register, and many of them were listed at preposterous addresses: no fewer than forty-two newly made voters were said to be resident of 70 Greene Street, which was a well-known brothel.
On election day, finally, the usual instances of repeating occurred. One man testified that he voted twenty-eight times, but he was not sure about the number because he had been so drunk most of the day. At the end of the day, poll clerks tallied the vote by virtually inventing the totals.
As Tweed himself described the process in his testimony years later, the technique was to “count the ballots in bulk, or without counting them announce the result in bulk.” One estimate held that more than fifty thousand illegal votes were cast in New York City. “The ballots made no result,” Tweed said. “The counters made the result.” Suffice it to say that [Horatio] Seymour carried New York State (while losing to Grant nationwide), and [Tammany’s John] Hoffman was handily elected governor.”
(The Tiger, the Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall, Oliver E. Allen, Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1993, excerpts pp. 103-104)