U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)
Chapter XIV. SUPERVISION OF ELECTIONS.
Par. Introduction 14-1 Request for supervision 14-2 Definitions 14-3 Responsibilities of electoral mission 14-4 Intimidation of voters 14-5 Military and police measures 14-6 IJnethicalp ractices 14-7
14-1. Introduction.-a. The Government of the United States has supervised the presidential or congressional elections of neighboring republics on 12 different occasions. By accepting the responsibility for such supervision , the Government of the United States has settled serious political disturbances and assisted in the reestablishment of law and order. Sanguinary revolutions were stopped and countries rescued from a state of civil war. Assistance rendered by the Government of the United States was, in most cases, the direct result of requests of the conflicting political elements. In some instances, the aid was given in order to preserve peace and to settle controversies in accordance with existing treaties.
b. The supervision of an election is perhaps the most effective peaceful means of exerting an impartial influence upon the turbulent affairs of sovereign states. Such supervision frequently plays a prominent role in the diplomatic endeavors that are so closely associated with small war activities. Due to the peaceful features of electoral supervision, there will probably be more of this form of aid rendered neighboring republics in the future. Such action is in keeping with the popular revulsion against armed intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, and supports the principles of self-determination and majority rule.
c. Whenever the Government of the United States assumes the responsibility of supervising the elections of another sovereign state, it compromises its foreign political prestige as effectively as by any other act of intervention or interposition. There is, perhaps, no other service which may be rendered a friendly state, the motive of which is more actively challenged or criticized, as an endeavor to control the internal affairs or the political destiny of that state. The duty of electoral supervision is normally performed by military and naval personnel. In addition, the electoral supervision will often be conducted under the protection afforded by United States military or naval forces assigned for that specific duty. A knowledge of the subject of electoral supervision will be found useful to all personnel engaged in small wars operations.
14--2. Request for supervision.-The supervision of elections within a sovereign State is normally undertaken only after a formal request for such supervision has been made to the President of the United States by the government of the foreign state, or by responsible factions within the foreign state, provided no de facto government exists. The formal request is usually accompanied by statements from the principal officials of recognized political parties to the effect that they desire the electoral supervision, that they pledge their active aid and support in cooperation with the proposed electoral mission, and that they agree to exercise their influence over all their followers to the end that a peaceful election may be held.
14-3. Definitions.-a. The group of individuals representing the Government of the United States that proceeds to the foreign country concerned to supervise a particular election in accordance with agreements between the Government of the Unitecl States and the foreign government is known as the ELECTORAL MISSION TO---------------- (E. M.). It is normally composed of officers and enlisted personnel of the military ancl naval services of the United States, augmented by certain qualified civilian assistants.
b. The committee that directs and controls the national electoral machinery and electoral procedure of the country concerned is known as the NATIONAL BOARD OF ELECTIONS (N. B. E.). It is governed by the existing electoral laws of the country concerned, and is normally composed of citizens of the country. During the supervision of a particular election by the Government of the United States, a member of the Electoral Mission serves as a member of the National Board of Elections in lieu of one of the members who is a citizen of the foreign country. In the past, it has been customary for the Chairman of the Electoral Mission to serve also as President of the National Board of Elections.
c. The committee that directs and controls the electoral machinery and electoral procedure within a Department is known as a DEPARTMENTAL BOARD OF ELECTIONS. A member of the Electoral Mission serves on this board in lieu of a citizen member. The Department is a political subdivision of the country analogous to a State in the United States. These political subdivisions are sometimes known as Provinces.
d. Depending upon the further political subdivision of the country concerned, minor boards of election are set up. Such boards may be known as CANTONAL BOARDS OF ELECTIONS, DISTRICT BOARDS OF ELECTIONS, or COMMUNAL BOARDS OF ELECTIONS. In each case, the political subdivisions of the country concerned will be the governing factor in the organization of such minor boards. Normally, a District (Arrondissement) is a political subdivision of a Department (Province) analagous to a County in the United States. A further political subdivision of the District (Arrondissement) is known as a Canton (Commune) and is analogous to a Ward or Township in the United States.
14--4. Responsibilities of an electoral mission.-a. A "free and fair" election implies the unrestrained popular choice of the whole people expressed at the polls by all who are lawfully entitled to suffrage. There must be no restraint or reservation, either physical or mental, exerted upon any aspirant to office or upon any of his supporters, except those normal restrictions required for the preservation of law and order. The fear of restraint may be real and with sufficient reason, or it may be imaginary and without cause. In either case, every effort must be made to remove the fear of restraint. It is only by a studied impartiality on the part of the Electoral Mission that charges of favoritism can be avoided.
b. It is well to consider the internal conditions that make the electoral supervision necessary. The electoral laws, the economic conditions, and the educational problems of the country concerned will often be found to be factors. The Electoral Mission can actually institute few permanent electoral reforms during the limited time that it is present in the country. It can, however, demonstrate a method of conducting elections that may serve as a model to the citizens for future elections. A free, fair, and impartial election cannot be held in a country torn by civil strife. Before such an election can be held, the individual must be made to feel safe in his everyday life. The presence of United States military and naval forces is often necessary to furnish that guarantee.
c. The Electoral Mission can assume the responsibility for the conduct of a "free and fair" election only within the definite limitations of the authority granted it and the facilities made available for carrying out its mission. There may be political and legal restrictions over which the Electoral Mission has no control. To guarantee a "free and fair" election, the Electoral Mission should have the necessary authority over the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the government to make effective its legal decisions. It must also have the active cooperation, if not the actual control, of military and police forces sufficient to enforce its rulings.
14--5. Intimidation of voters.-The employment of military and police forces for the protection of voters will often be a vital factor in the conduct of a "free and fair" election. The selfish personal and political partisanship of individuals, groups, or political parties may induce them to use various and sundry methods, including force, in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election. Guerrilla elements may be encountered, whose announced purpose is the prevention of an impartial election. These guerrilla elements may be banded together on their own initiative for this announced purpose, or they may be in the hire of some political group or party. Military and police forces are employed to prevent violence to personnel conducting the elections at voting booths, to prevent the destruction or seizure of ballots and electoral records, and for general protection of the populace from guerrilla activities. Protection is furnished the inhabitants in towns, in cities, and along lines of communication in order that registrants and voters may not be prevented from registering or voting due to threats of bodily violence while proceeding to and from registration and polling places. In some cases the homes of voters may be threatened, and the safety of their lives, families, and property may be endangered as a result of their announced desire to exercise their right of suffrage. This is particularly true in the case of members of campaigning (propaganda) parties normally employed in countries that do not enjoy good communication facilities. The foregoing measures of violence may be attempted by individuals, small groups, or large bands of guerrillas. A large organized group may make raids into quiet sections of the country in order to frighten the peaceful inhabitants and disturb the peace to influence the elections in the locality, attack isolated posts, ambush patrols, and conduct other operations of such nature as to demand the employment of a comparatively large military force for protection of the inhabitants.
14-6. Military and police measures.-a. It is essential that the Chairman of the Electoral Mission have military and police forces available in sufficient number to insure peace and order during the election campaign, the registration period, and the voting period.Withhout such forces, it may be highly impracticable to assure the electorate of a free, fair, and impartial election.
b. During the electoral period, United States naval and military forces already stationed in the country may be augmented temporarily by troop detachments from the continental United States, by detachments from ships of the United States Fleet, or others armed forces of the United States. In order that such units may be readily available for recall or return to their normal stations for duty and to save time and transportation, it will normally be advisable to employ such temporarily attached troops in or near the larger bases or along lines of communication (railroads, automobile roads, lake, and river boats). Veteran troops that are accustomed to the country and inhabitants are employed in the more exposed Districts. Such assignment of troops will promote more efficient performance of duty.
c. In some countries, there may be a native constabulary or similar organization under the command of United States or native officers. Whenever practicable, the larger portion of the military and police duties required to guarantee an impartial election should be providecl by the native military organization. This force should be employed to its maximum capacity before employing United States forces. The display of United States armed forces at or near the polling places is kept to a minimum in order to avoid the charge that the Government of the United States has influenced the election, or placed favored candidates in office by the employment of military forces. However, the safety of Electoral Mission personnel must be considered at all times. The use of the native military organization places the responsibility for law and order where it properly belongs. It also tends to give the electorate the impression that the election is being conducted under the control of their own country. Care must be exercised to prevent the native military organization and individuals composing that organization from exhibiting any partiality. There cannot be a "free and fair" election if the use of the native constabulary degenerates into a partisan display of force. If the organization is not under the immediate command of United States officers, it becomes even more necessary to supervise its conduct during this period.
d. Local police are generally political appointees and, as a rule, cannot be depended upon to support a "free and fair" election. Their local, political, and personal interests will often result in prejudices and injustices, which will compromise efforts for impartial control. If they are not federalized, nonpartisan, and under neutral superior authority, it is better to confine the duties of the local police agencies to their normal functions of preserving the peace in their localities, thus furnishing indirect support toward the conduct of a "free and fair" election. Their actions should be observed for any sign of partiality or improper activities that may tend to influence the outcome of the election. In some instances, it may be deemed advisable to suspend the civil police and similar organizations during the period of registration and election. This may be done by decree or other legal means. Their duties are then temporarily assigned to the native military organization. Armed guards from the constabulary formce may be stationed at polling places to assist the regular civil police force in the maintenance of order. When so employed, the members of the constabulary force are given civil police power and may make arrests for ordinary civil offenses.
e. It is sometimes desirable to station an armed member of the United States forces inside each polling place to protect the electoral personnel, to guard the electoral records and ballots, and to preserve order within the building, thus relieving the Chairman of the local Board of Elections (usually a member of the Electoral Mission) of those responsibilities. The latter can then devote his entire attention to his electoral duties. At times, it may be necessary to assign detachments of United States troopsl to protect electoral personnel and records at polling places and while traveling between polling places and departmental capitals.
f. During the electoral period, and particularly on registration days and the day of election, aviation is employed to patrol polling places in outlying sections. This action is particularly valuable in that it gives tangible evidence to the voters that they are receiving protection in the exercise of their civil rights. Airplane patrols also furnish an excellent means of communication with polllng places. They are a constant threat to any organized attempt to foment disorder.
14-7. Unethical practices.-a. In addition to the military or police features which may materially influence the ability of the Electoral Mission to guarantee a "free and fair" election, there are other elements that may operate to prevent that desirable result. These elements may properly be grouped under the heading of "political pressure" practices. Political pressure exerts a powerful influence in the conduct of elections since it reaches and touches every voter, whether he resides in the capital or a remote district of the interior. This political pressure consists of practices of long standing in some countries, is extremely difficult to uncover, and requires tactful and painstaking effort to circumvent.
b. The incumbent Chief Executive may find it politically expedient to declare martial law in sections of the country at the beginning of the election period, giving as a reason, the preservation of law and order. The action may have no relation to the military situation at the time, and may possibly be taken in spite of recommendation against it by the military authorities concerned. As a consequence of such executive decree, the duly elected civil officials are automatically ousted from office and replaced by presidential appointees. By carrying out the process to its logical conclusion down to and including game wardens scattered throughout the province or provinces, political henchmen, willing and anxious to use every kind of pressure on any voter who might be opposed to the national administration, are in a position to interfere radically with an impartial election. This is a most unhealthful condition under which to attempt to conduct a free and fair election. By appealing to the sense of fair play of the executive, and through other diplomatic endeavors, it maybe possible to have the decree rescinded. Unless the civil officials that have been appointed by executive action are removed from office, however, the effect of having such individuals continue in authority is likely to be deleterious to the conduct of an impartial election in the sections affected.
c. Public lands may be distributed to citizens with a tacit understanding that they will vote for the candidates of the party controlling the distribution of the land, an act which is clearly contrary to the laws of the country. By this process, a political victory for the party dispensing the land is practically assured in a district whose inhabitants are known to be about equally divided between two political parties. Investigation and exposure of this practice, coupled with diplomatic efforts on the part of the Electoral Mission, will serve to put a stop to this activity, but it is likely to be too late to prevent full political profit from being derived.
d. In some countries, it is an established custom during electoral periods to arrest numerous citizens of the party, not in power, for old offenses, for charges of minor infringement of law, for honest political activities, and even upon charges that have absolutely no foundation whatsoever. In accordance with the law of the country, such citizensare automatically disfranchised, due to their having been arrested within a given period prior to the date elections are to be held. This action gives the party in power a powerful weapon in influecing the result of election. It is also not uncommon for the Chief Executive to banish prominent political oponents from the country, thereby ridding the party in power of some of its intelligent opposition. Another pernicious custom is the employment of the "warrant for arrest" as a means of depriving citizens of their constitutional right of suffrage. By this means, citizens may be prevented from voting or holding office during the time the charges are pending against them, even though no arrest may be made. Charges may cover real or imaginary offenses or crimes alleged to have been committed on a date many years before. Through dilatory procedure on the part of the civil courts, trial of such cases may be delayed beyond the registration period, thus effectively disfranchising the alleged offender. This method is employed principally against members of the party not in power, since it is a difficult matter to swear out a "warrant for arrest" against members of the party in power due to the partisanship of the civil officials charged with this duty. By exerting diplomatic pressure, it may be found practicable to have the national laws amended by the insertion of a statute of limitations providing that "warrants for arrest" for civil offenses expire automatically after 2 years and those for criminal offenses after a period of 5 years, provided the civil authorities have taken no steps to bring the case to trial before the expiration of such periods.
e. Public utilities and other agencies owned or controlled by the government may be used in a discriminatory manner for the benefit of the party in power. Campaign (propaganda) parties, voters, workers, and others who may be of assistance to the party in power may be found to have free passage granted them on railroads, river and lake steamships, airplane lines and suburban street car lines owned or controlled by the government. The party in power may employ government trucks to carry voters to registration and voting places, denying such transportation to members of the party not in power. Provided the government owns or operates the telephone, telegraph, radio, or postal service, the party in power may be found to have full and free use of these public utilities, while the opponents of the party in power do not. Telegrams sent and paid for by the party not in power may be garbled en route, and delayed in delivery. When delivered, the message may be so changed from the original that it contains an entirely different meaning from that intended. Members of the party not in power may be subjected to delays in telephone connections, in the transmission of telegraphic and radio messages, as well as delay in the delivery of personal mail. A tactful appeal to the sense of fair play of the government officials concerned is generally productive in terminating such practices.
f. Just prior to elections, public works projects may be undertaken in districts of doubtful political complexion or in those districts where the party not in power is known to have only a slight majority. Workers of the party in power may be imported into such districts to work on the projects in order that they may vote in that district, such workers normally being transported from districts where a majority for the party in power is definitely assured. Since the worker resides in the doubtful district at the time of registration and election, he is entitled to vote there, and thus may gain a clear majority for the party in power. This situation may be met by imposing a residential qualification for voters. For example, 6 months residence in a given district just prior to registration may be required as a qualification to vote in that district. This qualification may be a part of the electoral law of the country, or may be imposed as an interpretation of the law by decision of the National Board of Elections.
g. In some countries, the government has a monopoly on the manufacture and distribution of distilled liquors. This places a strong weapon in the hands of the party in power during the electoral period. The government party may dispense free liquor at political rallies in order to influence the opinion of the voters. This practice may be continued through the registration and voting period. Adherents to the party in power may give liquor to voters of the opposite party on election day, and then attempt to have them disqualified due to their intoxicated condition when they appear at the polls to vote. By restricting the distribution and sale of distilled liquor to normal amounts, this situation may be alleviated. Distilleries are padlocked, and an amount of liquor withdrawn for legitimate sale to authorized dealers. The amount withdrawn is equal to the average withdrawn over a reasonable period as shown by official records. To prevent the further use of intoxicants during this crucial period, stores and cafes dispensing them at retail are closed or prohibited from selling intoxicants on registration and election days.
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