MR JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioners were convicted of violating 18 U. S. C. § 241, which, in pertinent part, makes it unlawful for two or more persons to "conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States . . . ." Specifically, the Government proved that petitioners engaged in a conspiracy to cast fictitious votes for candidates for federal, state, and local offices in a primary election in Logan County, West Virginia. At the trial, a question arose concerning the admissibility against all of the petitioners of certain out-of-court statements made by some of them. In considering the propriety of the District Court's decision to admit this evidence, the Court of Appeals thought it necessary to resolve the question whether a conspiracy to cast false votes in a state or local election, as opposed to a conspiracy to cast false votes in a federal election, is unlawful under § 241. The Court of Appeals affirmed petitioners' convictions, concluding that § 241 encompasses "conspiracies, involving state action at least, to dilute the effect of ballots
The underlying facts are not in dispute. On May 12, 1970, a primary election was held in West Virginia for the purpose of nominating candidates for the United States Senate, United States House of Representatives, and various state and local offices. One of the nominations most actively contested in Logan County was the Democratic nomination for County Commissioner, an office vested with a wide variety of legislative, executive, and judicial powers.
Petitioners are state or county officials, including the Clerk of the Logan County Court, the Clerk of the County Circuit Court, the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff of the County, and a State Senator. The evidence at trial showed that by using the power of their office, the petitioners convinced three election officials in charge of the Mount Gay precinct in Logan County to cast false and fictitious votes on the voting machines and then to
The conspiracy achieved its primary objective, the countywide vote totals showing Hager the winner by 21 votes, counting the Mount Gay precinct returns. About two weeks after the election, on May 27, 1970, the election results were certified. After that date, Scaggs filed an election contest
A hearing was held in the County Court on the election contest at which petitioners Earl Tomblin and John R. Browning gave sworn testimony. The prosecution in the § 241 trial sought to prove that Tomblin and Browning perjured themselves at the election contest hearing in a continuing effort to have the fraudulent votes for Hager counted and certified. For example, one of the key issues in the election contest was whether sufficient voters had in fact turned out in Mount Gay precinct to justify the unusually high reported returns. Tomblin testified under oath at the election contest that he had visited Mount Gay precinct on election day and had observed one Garrett Sullins there as Sullins went in to vote. The prosecution at the § 241 trial, however, offered testimony from Sullins himself that he was in the hospital and never went to the Mount Gay precinct on election day.
At trial, the other defendants objected to the introduction of Tomblin's prior testimony on the ground that it was inadmissible against anyone but Tomblin. The District Court overruled the objection but instructed the jury that Tomblin's testimony could be considered only as bearing upon his guilt or innocence, unless the jury should determine that at the time Tomblin gave this testimony, a conspiracy existed between him and the other defendants and that the testimony was made in furtherance of the conspiracy, in which case the jury could consider the testimony as bearing upon the guilt
In oral argument before the Court of Appeals, petitioners for the first time
The Government countered before the Court of Appeals that, whether the federal conspiracy had ended or not, the election contest testimony of Tomblin and Browning was admissible under the principles enunciated in Lutwak v. United States, 344 U.S. 604 (1953). The Court of Appeals, however, decided not to tarry over this point and instead, in its own words, chose "to meet directly the contention that federal jurisdiction over the alleged conspiracy ended with the certification in the federal election contests . . . ." See 481 F. 2d, at 698. We think it inadvisable, however, to reach out in this fashion to pass on important questions of statutory construction when simpler, and more settled, grounds are available for deciding the case at hand. In our view, the basic principles of evidence and conspiracy law set down in Lutwak are dispositive of petitioners' evidentiary claims.
The doctrine that declarations of one conspirator may be used against another conspirator, if the declaration was made during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy charged, is a well-recognized exception to the hearsay rule which would otherwise bar the introduction of such out-of-court declarations. See Lutwak v. United States, supra, at 617. See also Krulewitch v. United States, 336 U.S. 440 (1949). The hearsay-conspiracy exception applies only to declarations made while the conspiracy charged was still in progress, a limitation that this Court has "scrupulously observed."
But, as the Court emphasized in Lutwak, the requirement that out-of-court declarations by a conspirator be shown to have been made while the conspiracy charged was still in progress and in furtherance thereof arises only because the declaration would otherwise be hearsay. The ongoing conspiracy requirement is therefore inapplicable to evidence, such as that of acts of alleged conspirators, which would not otherwise be hearsay. Thus the Court concluded in Lutwak that acts of one alleged conspirator could be admitted into evidence against the other conspirators, if relevant to prove the existence of the conspiracy, "even though they might have occurred after the conspiracy ended." 344 U. S., at 618. See also United States v. Chase, 372 F.2d 453 (CA4 1967); Note, Developments in the Law—Criminal Conspiracy, 72 Harv. L. Rev. 920, 988 (1959).
The obvious question that arises in the present case, then, is whether the out-of-court statements of Tomblin and Browning were hearsay. We think it plain they were not. Out-of-court statements constitute hearsay only when offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.
Since these prior statements were not hearsay, the jury did not have to make a preliminary finding that the conspiracy charged under § 241 was still in progress before it could consider them as evidence against the other defendants. The prior testimony was accordingly admissible simply if relevant in some way to prove the conspiracy charged. See Lutwak v. United States, 344 U. S., at 617.
As we read the record, there can be no doubt that the evidence of perjury by petitioners Tomblin and Browning in the election contest was relevant to make out the Government's case under § 241, even assuming, arguendo, that the petitioners' conspiracy ended, for purposes of federal jurisdiction, on May 27, 1970, with the certification of the federal election returns. For even if federal jurisdiction rested only on that aspect of the conspiracy involving the federal candidates, the proof at trial need not have been so limited. The prosecution was entitled to prove the underlying purpose and motive of the conspirators in order to convince the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that petitioners had in fact unlawfully conspired to cast false votes in the election. See Lutwak v. United States, supra, at 617. As it was never suggested that either Senator Byrd or Representative Hechler needed or sought the assistance of an unlawful conspiracy in order
Even if the federal conspiracy ended on May 27, then, the Tomblin and Browning election contest testimony was relevant to prove the offense charged. Accordingly, in order to rule on petitioners' challenge to the admissibility of this evidence, there was no need for the Court of Appeals, and there is no need for us, to decide whether petitioners' conspiracy ended on May 27 for purposes of federal jurisdiction or whether § 241 applies to conspiracies to cast fraudulent votes in local elections.
Petitioners argue, however, that the evidence at trial was insufficient to show that they had engaged in a conspiracy to cast false votes for the federal officers and that their convictions under § 241 can stand only if we hold that section applicable to a conspiracy to cast false votes
Two principles form the backdrop for our analysis of the record. It is established that since the gravamen of the offense under § 241 is conspiracy, the prosecution must show that the offender acted with a specific intent to interfere with the federal rights in question. See United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 753-754 (1966); Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91 (1945). Moreover,
Even with these caveats in mind, we find the record amply bears out the verdict that each of the petitioners engaged in the conspiracy with the intent of having false votes cast for the federal officers. The Government's chief witness was Cecil Elswick, an unindicted coconspirator who served as the Republican election officer at the Mount Gay precinct and who actually cast most of the fraudulent votes. Elswick testified that he was first approached by petitioner Red Hager, the son of Okey Hager, who told Elswick to go along with them to win the Mount Gay precinct or else he, Red Hager, would cause Elswick trouble. When asked on direct examination for whom he was told to win the precinct, Elswick testified: "For the Okey Hager slate and Senator Byrd and Ken Hechler." App. 40. When Elswick expressed an interest in going along, Red Hager arranged for a meeting between Elswick and Tomblin at which Tomblin confirmed an offer of a part-time deputy sheriff job for Elswick as a reward for his help in the election fraud. Elswick later met with petitioner W. Bernard Smith in Tomblin's office, and Smith then instructed him on how to proceed to win the election. The night before the election, Elswick met with all five of the petitioners. At this meeting cash payments for the false votes were discussed and petitioners Smith and Hager emphasized the need for putting "all the votes" on the machine. Later that evening, Elswick accompanied Tomblin to visit Garrett
Elswick then testified as to how he actually put the fraudulent votes on the machines. When a voter came into the precinct and asked for help in using the machines to vote the Neal Scaggs slate, Elswick and Mrs. Sullins would join the voter in the voting machine and, aligning their bodies so as to conceal what they were doing, would put votes on the machine for the entire Hager slate. In addition, Elswick simply went into the voting machine on his own and cast many fictitious ballots. Through a comparison between the reported returns and the number of persons who actually voted, false votes were shown to have been cast for every office—federal, state, and local. See n. 3, supra.
We think this evidence amply supported the jury's conclusion that each of the petitioners knowingly participated in a conspiracy which contemplated the casting of false votes for all offices at issue in the election. The evidence at trial tended to show a single conspiracy, the primary objective of which was to have false votes cast for Hager but which also encompassed the casting of false votes for candidates for all other offices, including Senator Byrd and Representative Hechler. True, there was little discussion among the conspirators of the federal votes per se, just as there was little discussion of the Hager votes in and of themselves, but the jury could believe this was only a reflection of the conspirators' underlying assumption that false votes would have to be cast for entire slates of candidates in order to have their fraud go undetected.
In our view, petitioners err in seeking to attach significance to the fact that the primary motive behind their
That petitioners may have had no purpose to change the outcome of the federal election is irrelevant. The specific intent required under § 241 is not the intent to change the outcome of a federal election, but rather the intent to have false votes cast and thereby to injure the right of all voters in a federal election to express their choice of a candidate and to have their expressions of choice given full value and effect, without being diluted or distorted by the casting of fraudulent ballots. See United States v. Saylor, supra, at 386. As one court has stated:
Every voter in a federal primary election, whether he votes for a candidate with little chance of winning or for one with little chance of losing, has a right under the Constitution to have his vote fairly counted, without its being distorted by fraudulently cast votes. And, whatever their motive, those who conspire to cast false votes in an election for federal office conspire to injure that right within the meaning of § 241.
While the District Court's jury instructions did not specifically focus upon the conspiracy to cast false votes for candidates for federal offices, no objection was made at trial or before the Court of Appeals with respect to this aspect of the instructions. See Johnson v. United States, 318 U.S. 189, 200 (1943); Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 147 n. 2 (1970). And, even assuming,
This case is therefore an inappropriate vehicle for us to decide whether a conspiracy to cast false votes for candidates for state or local office, as opposed to candidates for federal office, is unlawful under § 241, and we intimate no views on that question.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN concurs, dissenting.
Petitioners were convicted under 18 U. S. C. § 241, which imposes criminal penalties when "two or more persons conspire to injure . . . any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution . . . ." The Court of Appeals affirmed, 481 F.2d 685, and this Court granted certiorari to consider whether a conspiracy to cast fraudulent votes in a state election, without any evidence of racial discrimination, could constitute a federal offense under § 241. The Court of Appeals reached the substance of this question, holding that the Federal Government had the power under § 241 to punish not only conspiracies to poison federal elections, but also conspiracies in which state officials took
After reviewing the record, I am left with the opinion that the Court, in affirming on the theory that petitioners agreed as a part of their conspiracy to have false votes cast for federal candidates, is convicting the petitioners for an offense for which they were not found guilty by the jury. The instructions to the jury were phrased in a fashion which did not require it to find intent to have false votes cast for federal candidates, so that there is in truth no "verdict" to that effect. The evidence of intent to have false votes cast for federal candidates is hardly conclusive, so that the failure of the charge to require such a finding could not be deemed harmless error. Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 52 (a).
Because it is not clear that petitioners intended that fraudulent votes be cast for federal candidates, and because I believe that § 241 does not reach conspiracies to abscond with state elections, absent the element of racial discrimination, I dissent. The jury instructions, in allowing the jury to convict without finding a conspiracy to interfere with the federal electoral process, were improper, and the error was not harmless.
On May 12, 1970, a primary election was held in West Virginia for the purpose of nominating candidates for the United States Senate and House of Representatives and for various state and local offices, including that of County Commissioner for Logan County. The incumbent Commissioner,
As the Court notes, a stringent scienter requirement has been imposed when the Government seeks to prosecute under § 241, requiring proof of "specific intent" on the part of a conspirator to interfere with a right protected by § 241.
From the first, the prosecution in this case proceeded on the theory that casting false votes for state offices
The case was tried on the theory that petitioners conspired to secure the nomination of Okey Hager for County Commissioner. There is substantial evidence on the record to demonstrate the existence of this conspiracy, and petitioners necessarily contemplated having false votes cast in the local election to secure Okey Hager's nomination. There is also evidence that Cecil Elswick and others who were at the polling place during the election did in fact cast false votes for federal candidates. There is also evidence that one of the petitioners, Red Hager, did tell Elswick to cast false votes not only for Okey Hager, but also for Senator Byrd and Representative Hechler, candidates running for federal offices. But there
The prosecution made clear in its closing argument to the jury that the essence of its case was the conspiracy to cast false votes for the local office of County Commissioner. It carefully focused the jury's attention on the fraud committed by the petitioners as regards the state election:
In its charge to the jury, the trial court reinforced this crucial error. In its instructions, reprinted in relevant
At no time was the jury told that specific intent to have false votes cast for the federal candidates was necessary for conviction of each of the conspirators; it was enough that the "right to vote" was diluted and that "illegal ballots" were cast to injure "voting rights," without distinction between federal and state elections. As long as the jury accepted the credibility of the prosecution witnesses, conviction under these instructions was inevitable, even for those petitioners who were not shown by any
While trial counsel did not object to the form of the instructions, where an error is so fundamental that the instruction does not properly submit to the jury the essential elements of the charged offense, there is plain error and the interests of justice and fair play demand that we take note. See Fisher v. United States, 328 U.S. 463, 467-468; Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91, 107 (opinion of DOUGLAS, J.); Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 52 (b).
The Court concedes that the jury instructions "did not specifically focus" on an intent to cast false votes for federal candidates, but avoids this problem by contending in effect that this error was harmless because "we think it inconceivable that, even if charged by more specific instructions, the jury could have found a conspiracy to cast false votes for local offices without finding a conspiracy to cast false votes for the federal offices as well." (Emphasis added.)
I cannot agree with this crucial assumption. The gravamen of a conspiracy charge is agreeing with the intent of achieving a certain proscribed objective. "[I]t is . . . essential to determine what kind of agreement or understanding existed as to each defendant." United States v. Borelli, 336 F.2d 376, 384 (Friendly, J.) (emphasis added); see Note, Developments in the Law— Criminal Conspiracy, 72 Harv. L. Rev. 920, 929-930. When it is not shown that the unlawful objectives of one individual have been adopted by another, the latter cannot be found to have agreed to achieve the objectives and a conspiracy count to do so cannot be sustained. See Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298, 329-331.
The evidence in this case, as the prosecutor observed in closing argument, demonstrated that petitioners focused
The slenderness of the reed on which the Court's affirmance of these convictions rests is demonstrated by its assertions that the jury "could believe" that the lack of discussion of federal ballots only reflected an "assumption" by petitioners that such ballots would have to be cast, and that the jury "could have inferred" that petitioners were motivated by the need to cast false federal ballots to conceal fraudulent local votes. But whether the jury "could have inferred" or "could [have] believe[d]" that there was sufficient proof of specific intent to cast false federal ballots in the evidence in this case misses the point, because the jury was never required to make this finding in order to convict. The jury verdict is not to be accorded its traditional sanctity, when it is premised on erroneous instructions. See Burton v. United States, 202 U.S. 344, 373-374. The jury has never passed on the question of petitioners' intent while guided by proper instructions. While circumstantial evidence may lead a jury to infer specific intent to interfere with a right protected by § 241, the weighing of the evidence should be the jury's task, not that of this Court. There was in fact no "verdict" that petitioners conspired to have false votes cast in the federal election, and the sparse circumstantial evidence in this case makes it impossible for me to conclude, as does the Court, that such a verdict was inevitable so that the error in jury instructions was harmless. At the very least, justice requires that this case be remanded for a new trial.
Because I cannot agree that the evidence showed that petitioners necessarily conspired with the specific intent of having false votes cast for federal candidates, I could
The Court of Appeals determined that § 241 did reach such conspiracies. It noted that the language of the section sweeps broadly to guarantee "`any right or privilege secured . . . by the Constitution or laws of the United States,'" 481 F. 2d, at 699, and also that United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, and United States v. Price, 383 U.S. 787, stated that § 241 proscribed conspiracies to violate Fourteenth Amendment rights, including those protected from interference under color of law by the Equal Protection Clause. One such right only recently defined, reasoned the Court of Appeals, is the right not to have valid votes cast in state elections diluted by those acting under color of state law, including local election officials such as those involved in the instant conspiracy, citing Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533. Thus in the view of the Court of Appeals, a conspiracy to cast fraudulent ballots in which state election officials took part resulted in a denial of equal protection under color of state law and stated a crime under § 241, even if the conspiracy did not encompass a federal election. 481 F. 2d, at 698-700.
The argument ignores the intent of Congress as manifested by the legislative history of § 241. Congress did not intend to reach local election malfeasance where there was no evidence of racial bias because it did not believe that it had that power. It expressed unwillingness to interfere with the right of States to control their own elections where there was no racial discrimination.
Section 241 was originally passed as § 6 of the Enforcement Act of 1870, 16 Stat. 141. The Enforcement Act was a comprehensive body of legislation passed two
What is now § 241 was offered as an amendment by Senator Pool of North Carolina, who referred in introducing the amendment to "rights which are conferred upon the citizen by the fourteenth amendment." Cong. Globe, 41st Cong., 2d Sess., 3611. But there is no proof that he conceived of the possibility that the amendment could reach local election fraud where there was no racial discrimination.
Because the Enforcement Act of 1870 was concerned primarily with suffrage, there is ample legislative history elucidating the reach of congressional power regarding both federal and local elections. The constitutional power to pass those sections of the Act which purported to deal with the right to vote in local elections was perceived to flow from the Fifteenth Amendment,
In the course of debate, Senator Sherman of Ohio, another ardent advocate of the Act, proposed an amendment to add three sections to it. These sections, which were adopted with slight changes as §§ 19, 20, and 21, were designed to deal with frauds not involving racial discrimination, but only in federal elections. Senator Sherman's comments express the desire not to "invade the right of any state," id., at 3664, to control its own elections and reflect the belief that an element of racial bias was considered a necessary precondition to congressional power to deal with state elections. Federal elections for Senators and Congressmen could be governed absent such bias, but only by virtue of the express authority of Art. I, § 4, of the Constitution.
Only nine months later, the same Congress which passed the Enforcement Act of 1870 passed the Force Act of 1871, 16 Stat. 433, which supplemented the 1870 Act by supplying independent federal enforcement machinery to affirmatively ensure the right to vote in all congressional elections. Federal election officials were appointed to supervise such elections; the normal state processes were suppressed. But Congress made clear that its power could attach only when needed to protect congressional elections. One of the supporters of the bill, Representative Churchill of New York, stated:
The broad language of Guest and Price does not authorize us to draw any other conclusion. Guest involved racial discrimination and rights under the Equal Protection Clause "firmly and precisely established by a consistent line of decisions in this Court." 383 U. S., at 754. That is not true of the right to be free from fraud without any racial connotation in local elections. In Price, we noted the sparse legislative history of § 241 as part of the Enforcement Act, and held that there was no indication that Congress did not intend it to reach the Fourteenth Amendment right in question, the right to due process. 383 U. S., at 801. We noted that the application of § 241 in that case "does not raise fundamental questions of federal-state relationships." Id., at 806. Those facts are not present in this case. There is legislative history which indicates that Congress did not intend to reach local election frauds in passing § 241, because it did not believe that it had that power. And the decision of the Court of Appeals reaches to the very heart of federal-state relations, permitting federal intrusion in even the most local election, intrusions which the 41st Congress attempted to avoid when passing the Enforcement Act of 1870 and the Force Act of 1871.
I can affirm neither on the theory that § 241 reaches state election frauds where there is no evidence of racial discrimination, nor on the theory adopted by the Court that it was "inconceivable" that petitioners did not specifically intend to have false votes cast in the federal election, with the exception of Red Hager. The other petitioners are entitled at least to a new trial under proper instructions.
APPENDIX TO OPINION OF DOUGLAS, J., DISSENTING
Excerpts from Jury Instructions
The indictment in this case charges in substance that beginning on or about the 1st day of May, 1970 and continuing until on or about the date of the indictment the defendants unlawfully, willfully and knowingly conspired with each other and with other persons who are both known and unknown to the grand jury, to injure and oppress
The indictment also alleges that in order to effect the objects of the conspiracy the defendants caused and attempted to cause votes to be cast in the Mount Gay precinct of Logan County by procedures and methods in violation of the laws of the State of West Virginia, all with the purpose and intent that the illegal, fraudulent and fictitious ballots would be counted, returned and certified as a part of the total vote cast in the May 12, 1970, primary election, thereby impairing, diminishing, diluting and destroying the value and effect of votes legally, properly and honestly cast in that primary election in Logan County, which the indictment alleges violates Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 241.
The statute cited in the indictment provides in part that it shall be a criminal offense for two or more persons to conspire to injure any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States. You are instructed that the right to vote and the right to have the value of that vote undiminished and undiluted by the presence of illegal votes is a right guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States within the context of the charging statute.
The indictment in this case states that the defendants caused false and fictitious votes to be cast and counted, and that casting and counting such votes violates the laws of the State of West Virginia. With regard to whether or not casting and counting false and fictitious votes or causing them to be cast and counted violates West Virginia law, you are further instructed that the laws of the
The government in essence contends that these defendants, along with other co-conspirators not named as defendants in the indictment, including Elwood Sloan, Cecil Elswick, Calvin Napier, Mae Stollings, Minerva Richards, Janet Sullins and perhaps others, did unlawfully, willfully and knowingly conspire together and with each other to violate the law of the United States in causing or attempting to cause votes to be cast in the Mount Gay precinct of Logan County, West Virginia, in the May 1970 primary election by procedures and methods in violation of the laws of West Virginia pertaining to the handling of a precinct by election officials, and by further causing and attempting to cause the County Court of Logan County, West Virginia, to find that no illegal votes were cast in the Mount Gay precinct by soliciting perjury and the commission of perjury in an election contest held subsequent to the May 12, 1970, primary, all with the purpose and intent that the alleged illegal and fraudulent and fictitious votes would be counted as a part of the total vote cast, resulting in an impairment, lessening and dilution of the value and effect of the votes legally and honestly cast. The government contends, of course, that all this was done in violation of Title 18, Section 241 of the United States Code, the charging statute designated in the indictment.
The Court further tells you that intent is an essential element of this offense. You are therefore charged that before you can convict the defendants, or any of them, you must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that such defendant or defendants deliberately and with knowledge conspired with others to injure certain qualified voters in the free exercise and enjoyment of their right of suffrage.
The Court of Appeals recognized that it need not ordinarily consider grounds of objection not presented to the trial court. See Hormel v. Helvering, 312 U.S. 552, 556 (1941). This rule is not without its exceptions, however, particularly in criminal cases where appellate courts can notice errors seriously affecting the fairness or integrity of judicial proceedings. See United States v. Atkinson, 297 U.S. 157, 160 (1936). See also Hormel v. Helvering, supra, at 557. In view of the fact that petitioners did challenge the admissibility of the Tomblin and Browning testimony at trial, we think it was proper for the Court of Appeals to consider all grounds related to that underlying objection.
Elswick also testified that there was a meeting the night before the election at which all of the petitioners were present and at which, the Court notes, Smith and Red Hager emphasized the need to put "all the votes" on the machine. The entire statement indicates that Hager and Smith were simply urging Elswick to cast as many votes as could be cast in the precinct, given the number of registered voters; it does not constitute an instruction to cast votes for federal candidates as well as the Okey Hager slate:
"Bernard and Red Hager was mostly spokesmen and Bernard said to be sure and put all the votes on there, put all of them on but fifty, and Red kept saying, `Put them all on.'" Tr. 632.
In proposing the amendments, Sherman stated:
"[Senator Thurman] admits that Congress has a right by appropriate legislation to prevent any State from discriminating against a voter on account of his race, color, or previous condition of servitude. That is all, I believe, that is claimed by any one on this side of the Chamber as to the authority conferred by the fifteenth amendment. . . .
"But, Mr. President, there is one other grievance that I feel ought to be dealt with at this moment, as we have this bill before us; a grievance which has become of greater magnitude even than the denial of the right to vote to colored people; and that is, the open, glaring, admitted frauds by wholesale in the great cities of this country, by which our Government is about to be subverted. . . . We have official documents without number in both Houses of Congress showing the growing evil of trampling down the rights of communities and States to representation in Congress in the election of members of Congress and in the election of Senators. . . .
". . . There can be no doubt about the constitutional power of Congress in this particular, because it is in plain accordance with the provisions of the Constitution which authorize Congress to change and alter the mode and manner of electing members of Congress [Art. I, § 4] . . . . As I have said, they have received the sanction of a committee of the House, which has carefully examined the whole subject, and I do not believe they raise any constitutional question, or invade the right of any State.
"In my judgment in elections for officers of the national Government we can prescribe, under the Constitution, the mode and manner and qualification of voters." Id., at 3663-3664.
"Mr. LAWRENCE. . . . And if the States have failed to enact laws necessary to secure what we all, I trust, have so much at heart, to wit, the purity of the ballot-box, or have failed to execute those already enacted, then it is the highest duty of this Congress to intervene and protect the citizens of the United States in the enjoyment of the elective franchise against force and fraud in the election of Representatives in Congress, leaving the States to provide such legislation as they may deem necessary in the election of local and State officers.
"It will reach any officer who improperly tampers with the election of a Representative in Congress; but it does not reach any State officer or any citizen in connection with any local or State election.
"Mr. JONES, of Kentucky. I have not read all the provisions of this bill, and as the gentleman seems to have done so I desire to ask him whether they apply to other elections than those for members of Congress?
"Mr. LAWRENCE. They apply only to the elections for Representatives and Delegates to Congress. The bill does not propose to interfere with State elections at all." Cong. Globe, 41st Cong., 3d Sess., 1276.