The political cartoon above appeared on the front page of the Rocky Mountain News for April 23, 1890. It shows the owner of the Denver Republican being stabilized by mayor Wolfe Londoner, surrounded by proof of corruption and vote fraud that had him elected to office. The giant hand of the state supreme court readies to bring Londoner to court.
A large portion of my book, Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel deals with the Denver vote fraud case of 1889-1890. The following is a snippet tease.
In the spring of 1889, Jeff, Ed Chase, “Bat” Masterson, John Morris, Ned Parker, John Kinneavy, city detective Sam “Sheeny Sam” Emerick and a host of others were involved in the criminal act of fraudulently registering hundreds of names to vote so that ballot boxes could be stuffed with hundreds of false and fictitious and votes.
Election day, April 2, 1889, turned into a carnival of abuses. Reportedly, because of their twenty-thousand-dollar slush fund, saloon-keepers were able to pay two dollars per vote. Bonuses for repeaters were generously awarded in the form of lottery tickets and free beer. Tramps and hoodlums from nearby towns were brought to Denver and marched to the polls by election-day special deputies.
Fraudulent voting in Denver was an open secret for a long time, including Jeff’s involvement. Appearing in 1910 was a book of remembrances about Denver in the 1880s and 1890s. As a young man interested in the law, Lindsey had read, in the newspapers, of how the Denver Republicans won the elections by fraud—by ballot-box stuffing and what not—and I had followed one “Soapy” Smith on the streets, from precinct to precinct, with his gang of election thieves, and had seen them vote not once but five times openly. I had seen a young man, whom I knew, knocked down and arrested for “raising a disturbance” when he objected to “Soapy” Smith’s proceeding; and the policeman who arrested him did it with a smile and a wink.