Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 3.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Fragment: Opinion on Election Laws of Illinois [1]

[October 15?] 1858

It is made a question whether, under our laws, a person offering to vote, and being challenged, and having taken the oath prescribed by the act of 1849, is then absolutely entitled to vote, or whether his oath may be disproved, and his vote thereon lawfully rejected.

In Purple's Statutes, Vol. 1, all our existing election laws are brought together commencing on page 514 and extending to page 532. They consist of acts and parts of acts passed at different times.

The true way of reading so much of the law as applies to the above question, is to first read (64) Sec. X---, including the form of the oath, on page 528. Then turn back and read (19) Sec. XIX on page 518.

If it be said that the Section last mentioned is not now in force, turn forward to (75) Sec. XXI, on page 530, where it is expressly declared to be in force.

The result is that when a person has taken the oath, his oath may still be proved to be false, and his vote thereupon rejected. ItPage  326 may be proved to be false by cross-examining the prop[os]ed voter himself, or by any other person, or competent testimony, known to the general law of Evidence

On page 532 is an extract of a Supreme Court decision on the very Sec. 19---on page 518, in which, among other things, the Court say:

``If such person takes the oath prescribed by law, the Judges must receive his vote, unless the oath be proved false.[''] Something of a definition of residence is also therein given.

Annotation

[1]   AD, DLC-RTL. Probably written in October prior to the election on November 2, this fragment bears the date given it in the Complete Works. Lincoln may have written the opinion as a guide for the editors of the Illinois State Journal. On November 1, the Journal carried an extended editorial ``To the Judges and Clerks of Election,'' in which the references to Norman H. Purple's Statutes (1856) cited by Lincoln are quoted at length.