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duly appointed according to law. The voter deposits his ticket, or ballot, in the ballot-box. The object of the ballot system is to secure secrecy in the matter of voting, preventing any one from knowing for whom the voter casts his ballot, unless he himself chooses to tell.
149. The California Ballot Law.—It is the object of the law to have elections pure and fair. corrupt practices have crept in; intimidation, bribery, and fraud are too common. The ordinary ballot system has not been found to insure perfect secrecy and independence in voting. As an attempt to correct some of these abuses, California, as also some other States, has adopted a system which has been in use in the Australian colonies. The ballots, according to this system, are printed and distributed at public expense, and each ballot contains the names of all the candidates of all the parties. Opposite the name of each candidate is the name of his party-as “Republican," "Democratic," "Prohibition "—
““”. and then a vacant square. All the ballots are in charge of the election officers, and are not given out except one at a time to actual voters. Upon receiving a ballot, the voter goes into an inclosed space in the balloting room, marks crosses in the squares opposite the names he wishes to vote for, and then folds his ballot and returns it to the election inspector, who drops it into the ballotbox. If the voter wishes to vote for every candidate on any one of the party tickets, that is, does not wish to "scratch” his ticket, he simply marks a cross in a vacant square opposite the name of the party ticket for which he wishes to vote, and omits it after the names of the candidates. He is under the supervision of the election officers all the time, and none but these officers and actual voters in the process of preparing their ballots are allowed within the balloting room.
150. The Canvass.-After the polls are closed, the ballots are counted, or canvassed, by the election officers. If the number of ballots in the box agrees with the number of persons marked on the register as having voted, it is presumed that no mistake has been made, and that the election has been fair. If, however, there are more ballots than names canceled, in some States the election is declared void and must be held over again; in other States a number of ballots equivalent to the excess is taken out and destroyed. If the election is a local one, or in a school district or town, the election officers count the votes, and may then and there announce the result, or they may be required to make a return to the town trustees, for instance, who canvass the returns and declare the result. If it is a county election, the inspectors of each precinct send a written return to the county canvassers, who, from the returns of all the precincts of the county, determine and declare the election of the officers of the county. If it is a State election, the several county boards of canvassers send their returns to the State board, who determine and announce the result.
151. Number of Votes Necessary for Election.The general rule governing elections in the United States is that the person receiving a plurality of the votes cast is elected. This means that the person who has received a greater number than any other person shall be considered elected. Where there are but two candidates, a plurality is necessarily a majority. Where there are more than two candidates, a plurality may be a majority of all votes cast, or it may be a minority.
152. Contested Elections.—Where the results of an election are disputed, means of settling the dispute are provided by law. In the case of an election to a legislative office, the final decision as to who is elected rests with the legislative body itself.* In other cases, a candidate
* who has not been returned by the canvassing board, but thinks he has received a plurality of votes, brings suit in a court of law for a recount of votes. The court examines into the case, and decides according to the evidence.
153. Reasons for Imposing Taxes. - A government in order to exist and carry out the purposes of its establishment must have an income. This income is obtained by taxes. A tax is a portion of a man's property or savings taken under form of law for the support of the government. In return, the government affords protection to the man's person and property.
154. Purposes of Taxation. The purposes for which taxes may be levied must be public in their nature, and not for the private benefit of individuals. It may not always be possible to tell whether a tax is used for a public purpose, but the people should always be on the alert to see that it is so employed.
155. Extent of the Power of Taxation.—The power of taxation by the government is unlimited. Granted the right to tax any given object, the tax may be made so great as to cause the destruction of the object. Thus, at the beginning of the Civil War, the currency issued by State banks was purposely taxed so high by
* In England the determination as to who is elected to a legislative office, formerly resting with the legislative body, is now given to the courts. Such questions being judicial in their nature, ought, it would seem, to come before a court of law, and not be decided by a large legislative body, where political, and not legal, reasons too often prevail.
Congress that it went out of existence. This power of taxation resides in both the federal government and the State governments. The power to tax being unlimited in extent, it follows that a State government may not tax the federal government or its agencies, nor may the federal government tax a State government or its agencies; otherwise, one or the other might be totally destroyed.
156. Kinds of Taxes.—Taxes are divided into various kinds, according to the objects on which they are laid. Thus, duties, or customs duties, are taxes laid on goods imported into a country from abroad. Excises are taxes on the manufacture or consumption of goods within a country. Direct taxes are taxes on the individual person (poll taxes) or taxes on land. All taxes that are not direct are called indirect taxes.
157. State Taxation.—The State depends for its revenue almost wholly on taxes levied on land and on personal property. Some States, as California, also impose a poll tax on every male inhabitant between the ages of twenty-one and sixty years. In a system of State taxation the needs of the State government have to be provided for, as also the needs of all minor local divisions of the State, as counties, cities, towns, school districts. These taxes are regulated by general laws of the State, but the collection is left to the local divisions.
158. Assessment and Collection.—The income required for carrying on the State government is determined by the State Legislature at its regular sessions; that is, in California, every two years. This sum is apportioned among the several counties in proportion to the value of the property contained within them. Similarly, the supervisors of each county in California decide each year the amount necessary for meeting county expenses; and the town and city authorities estimate the amount necessary for carrying on their local governments.
The State does not collect its taxes itself. It leaves it to the counties to assess the value of the property belonging to the property owners in the county, and to collect the taxes, and afterwards turn the money over to the State Treasurer. Each county has its assessor, who estimates the value of each man's property, and its tax collector, who collects the taxes thus assessed. Thus, in a county a property owner pays at the county seat two taxes, which, for convenience, are added together and included in the same tax bill—a State tax and a county tax. Then, each town and city has its assessor and tax collector, who assesses the property and collects the tax from the property owners in the city or town for municipal purposes. The owner of property in an incorporated city or town thus pays three taxes: a State, a county, and a municipal tax.
159. Boards of Equalization.--Taxes ought to be equal. That is to say, every person ought to contribute to the expenses of government according to the value of the property he owns. And the value of every man's property ought to be estimated on the same basis. Therefore, the boards of supervisors of the several counties act as boards of equalization for their respective counties, and the boards of councilmen or trustees in cities and towns perform similar functions for their local divisions. And since there are so many different assessors in a State, there must be much variation in the general standard of valuation. An attempt is made in some States to regulate these inequalities by means of State boards of equalization. Thus, in California, there is a State board, consisting of one member elected from each of four districts into which the State is divided for this purpose,