Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
The Question to be Voted on To-Day.
April 27, 1871
The Question to be Voted on To-Day.
The people of this State are called on to vote to-day upon a proposition to amend the State Constitution. The purpose of the amendment is two-fold: first to restore the ballot to those now disfranchised for their participation in the rebellion; and, second, to remove the discrimination in the Constitution which limits the right of suffrage to "white" persons, and thereby make that instrument conform to the XVth Article of Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
The precise terms of the proposed Amendment will be understood, we trust, from the following explanation. Section 1 of Article III of the State Constitution is now as follows:
1. The white male citizens of the State shall be entitled to vote at all elections held within the election districts in which they respectively reside, but no person who is a minor, or of unsound mind, or a pauper, or who is under conviction of treason, felony or bribery in an election, or who has not been a resident of the State for one year, and of the county in which he offers to vote for thirty days, shall be permitted to vote while such disability continues. No person who since the 1st day of June, 1861, has given, or shall give, voluntary aid or assistance to the rebellion against the United States, shall be a citizen of this State, or be allowed to vote at any election therein, unless he has volunteered into the military or naval service of the United States, and has been, or shall be, honorably discharged therefrom."
The Amendment proposes to strike that section out and insert in place of it the following:
"1. The male citizens of the State shall be entitled to vote at all elections held within the election districts in which they respectively reside; but no person who is a minor, or of unsound mind, or a pauper, or who is under conviction of treason, felony or bribery in an election, or who has not been a resident of the State for one year, and of the county in which he offers to vote for thirty days, next preceding such offer, shall be permitted to vote while such disability continues."
The effect of this, it will be perceived, is to eliminate from the section as it now stands in the constitution, those portions which we have placed in italics.
The negro already has a right to vote in this State by an authority which overrides the denial of it by a State Constitution. He is a voter now, and will continue to be, whether our State Constitution be amended or not. Practically, therefore, the only substantial question involved in the amendment is that of enfranchising the ex-Confederates.
April 28, 1871
The vote yesterday on the proposed amendment to the State Constitution was the lightest ever cast in this city. In the seven city townships from which we have returns only 435 votes were cast all told - less than one-tenth of the full vote of those townships. There was an utter absence of interest; and those who voted did so, we presume, as a matter of abstract duty. We can only regret that so many felt no sense of duty as citizens in connection with the matter submitted to them.
While the indifference shown is to be regretted as a not very healthy indication, it is not by any means unaccountable. The questions involved in a vote were purely impersonal and abstract. It has been often demonstrated that no election which does not involve money or personal success, or both, will excite more than a limited interest. Neither money nor personal interests entered into this election.
Then again it was a peculiarity of the proposed Amendment that it contained features displeasing to a very large number of both parties. It required an unpleasant concession from each. The Democrat was required to concede negro suffrage, and the Republican ex-rebel suffrage. A very large proportion of each party felt reluctant to make these respective concessions, and this reluctance helped very much to make them indifferent about the election and to keep them at home.
No opinion can be formed at present, that is worth expressing, about the result in the State.
Government and Politics