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Guide to the Great Registers of San Joaquin County (California) GovRec5
GovRec5  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
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.
Background
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.
Extent
40.0 Linear feet (68 volumes, one oversize flat box)
Restrictions
Collection is open for research by appointment
Availability
No access or copyright restrictions.