Middletown, Newport County
1908, October 19.
For supervisors of the November election the following were appointed: Republicans, Lionel H. Peabody, Jr., and Charles H. Sisson. Democrats, Dennis J. Murphy and Fillmore Coggeshall, Jr.
1908, November 3. A town meeting was held at the town hall, opening at ten o'clock A. M. William L. Brown presided as moderator and Lionel H. Peabody, Jr., Charles H. Sisson, Dennis J. Murphy, and Fillmore Coggeshall, Jr., acted as supervisors. Out of a total of 314 voters qualified to vote the names of 295 were checked as voting, which was continued until ten minutes past four P. M. The official ballot contained the names of sixty-two candidates for office besides two propositions. In addition, the question of granting liquor licenses was voted on and likewise the proposition relating to the defense of rights in Sachuest Neck. The ballots on the last named proposition were received by Alfred S. Ward, as assistant moderator and voting the list was checked by Joshua Coggeshall, as deputy town clerk. Presidential electors, a representative in Congress, general officers and members of the General Assembly were included in the official ballot and the candidates for each of these offices were numerous. Some electors were so perplexed and dazed by the ponderous ballot that they were unable to determine what names to mark, and recourse to the supervisors for assistance was frequently had. After the voting had proceeded for some time it was discovered that the candidates nominated by the Citizens' Association for the General Assembly were both under the heading "For Representative in General Assembly," instead of one being for Senator. The voting went on until the close of the polls and the election officers in classifying and counting the ballots regarded the intent of the voter and counted the votes for Abram A. Brown as cast for him as Senator and the votes for Frank T. Peckham as cast for him as representative. The ballots upon being returned to the State Returning Board, however, were treated as implying no vote as constituting two candidates for the same office. The State Returning Board thereupon declared the Republican nominees for Senator and Representative elected, being Charles H. Ward for Senator and Joel Peckham for Representative.
The following is a summary of the vote for all the officers and propositions
balloted for at the meeting as counted and declared by the election officers:
For Taft and Sherman, Republican,
|FOR REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
William P. Sheffield, Republican, 194
Aram J. Pothier, Republican,
Arthur W. Dennis, Republican,
|FOR SECRETARY OF STATE.
Charles P. Bennett, Republican,
|FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL.
William B. Greenough, Republican, 198
|FOR GENERAL TREASURER.
Walter A. Read, Republican,
Abram A. Brown, Citizens,
Frank T. Peckham, Citizens, 150
|STATE HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION LOAN
Providing for an issue of State bonds to the amount of $600,000.00 for
building State roads.
PENAL AND REFORMATORY INSTITUTION LOAN
Providing for an issue of $300,000.00 in State bonds for buildings and improvements at the State farm in Cranston.
On the question, "Will this town grant licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquors?" the vote stood Yes 52, Noes 217, Defective 3, Blanks 23, Majority against, 165.
On the proposition to appropriate $500.00 for determining rights in Sachuest Neck, whole number of votes cast 162, of which 150 were in favor and only 12 against its adoption.
In pursuance of the authority conferred by the adoption of the last named proposition, Albert L. Chase, Joseph A. Peckham and Alden P. Barker were appointed a committee to retain and employ legal counsel and to bring and defend such actions at law or suits in equity, as they should decide as proper and expedient.
1909 [sic. clearly should be 1908], November 6. The State Returning Board on this date counted the ballots cast November 3 for Senator and Representative in Middletown, and by advice of the Attorney General all those marked for Abram A. Brown and Frank T. Peckham were thrown out as irregular and illegal, and then the Board declared Charles H. Ward elected Senator and Joel Peckham, Representative.
As soon as this information reached Middletown, soon after four P. M., there was intense excitement, especially among those who had supported and voted for Brown and Peckham. The Secretary of State was blamed and denounced for allowing the official ballots to be sealed up and forwarded with such a palpable and inexcusable error in the caption over the names of Brown and Peckham. Moreover, the sample ballots appeared in correct form and this fact only emphasized the mystery of the whole affair. The Citizens' Association held an indignation meeting, passed some spirited resolutions and appointed a committee to go to Providence and investigate and find out, if possible, who was responsible for the miscarriage of the election of Senator and Representative to the General Assembly.
The situation was unique. Two men had been declared elected who had
not received a plurality of the votes. Various remedies were advised. Recourse
to the courts and the taking of the contest before the committee on Elections
appointed by the General Assembly. None of these methods promised a very
early or satisfactory determination. It was suggested that the simplest
and most expeditious mode of rectifying the election was for Messrs. Ward
and Peckham to decline to accept the offices to which they were declared
elected by the State Returning Board and then to have a new election. Following
out this suggestion, on the tenth day of November Charles H. Ward filed
with the Town Clerk his communication in writing giving notice of his declination
and refusal to serve as Senator and Joe Peckham on the same day filed a
like communication giving notice of his declination and refusal to serve
as Representative. On the fourteenth day of November, the Town Clerk issued
his warrant for a new election of Senator and Representative to be held
on Friday, December 4, at ten A. M. At this second election the Republicans
made no nominations for Senator and Representative and the candidates nominated
by the Citizens' Association had a walkover. William L. Brown presided
as Moderator of the town meeting December 4, and Lionel H. Peabody, Jr.,
Charles H. Sisson, Fillmore Coggeshall, Jr., and Dennis J. Murphy acted
as supervisors. The attendance was much less than usual. The polls were
closed at 3:30 P. M., when it was found that the ballot box contained 136
|The vote for Senator stood as follows:
Abram A. Brown, Citizens, 134
Frank T. Peckham, Citizens, 133
At this meeting resolutions were passed instructing the members of the delegation to the General Assembly to use their best endeavors in securing amendments to Chapter 11 of the General Laws to provide for a proper inspection of official ballots, to insure the correct printing thereof, also to remove the ambiguity now existing in Section 50 of said Chapter, relative to adjourned and subsequent elections, and likewise to urge an advocate the passage of such amendments to the law in relation to the use of the public highways of the State of automobiles and motor vehicles as will more effectually restrain and punish the reckless and dangerous driving and speeding of such vehicles.
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