This collection of 68 bound volumes and one oversize flat box holds some of the earliest voter registration records of San
Joaquin County. The Registry Act of 1866 that mandated them was the first attempt to reform a corrupted voting process in
California. The collection is comprised of Great Registers or their copies dated 1866-1912, and Indexes to the Great Registers
dated 1890-1946. The oversize box contains partial copies of the Great Registers of 1868, 1871, 1877, 1896, 1898, and 1906.
The original California State Constitution, ratified in November 1849, stated in Article II: “All elections by the people
shall be by ballot.” However, no electoral procedures were specified. For the first sixteen years of California’s statehood,
politics were often rampant with corruption. In the post-Gold Rush state, political machines gained power and, though bringing
some order, demanded loyalty at the polls in return for the favors they gave. Political parties printed their own ballots,
and one’s vote often was not private. Ballot boxes could be stuffed with the votes of non-existent or ineligible voters, or
a voter might vote more than once. A vote might be bought outright. Passed in 1866, the Registry Act (Statutes of California,
Chapter CCLXV) represented the first attempt to reform the voting process by requiring the names of every voter to be listed
in a book of voter affidavits. These affidavits were called the Great Registers.
40.0 Linear feet
(68 volumes, one oversize flat box)
Collection is open for research by appointment
No access or copyright restrictions.