837.00/1642: Telegram

The Minister in Cuba (Long) to the Secretary of State

81. Following is the text of memorandum referred to in my February [March] 27, 4 p.m.

“Pursuant to our conference with the President this morning I submit the following memorandum which contains an expression of my remarks on the subject.

First of all, I enclose a statement of the vote in the House of Representatives on the amendment, which shows that it was as follows: ayes 71; nays 30; absent 16; not seated, being a substitute, 1; total 118. As you may see, the amendment was passed in the House by an overwhelming majority, against which the veto of the President would have been of no avail, especially when said amendment was passed in the Senate by an almost unanimous vote, having but one vote against it.

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Article 120 of the original electoral law, which is the article amended, provides, it is true, that no person shall appear in the official ballot as a candidate for the same office on two different tickets, but the fact is that the principle of coalition is not prohibited by the law, notwithstanding the provision before mentioned in article 120, inasmuch as article 162 of the same law positively implies that coalitions can be agreed upon and are lawful since it provides in its first paragraph that voters shall freely and secretly fill the voting tickets, and paragraph third of section third provides that in case a voter should wish to vote a plurality ticket by a selection from among the candidates contained in the different tickets and from those contained in different parts of the same ticket, he shall make a cross in the square placed on the left of the name of each of the candidates and he may vote a complete part or section of one ticket and another section or part of another ticket, he having also the right to select candidates from among the different tickets or parts of same which he may not have voted in its entirety.

Section fourth of that same article 162 directs that if a voter wishes to vote for persons not contained in any of the tickets he can do so by writing their names in the blank column underneath the names of the offices to be filled. This evidently shows that the principle of coalition is not excluded from the electoral law with the result, however, that with the provision in article 120, voters who may wish to exercise their right to vote for candidates named in different tickets, or their sections, may not be able to exercise said right if they are unable to read and write or if they do not understand well the way the [to] vote as framed in article 162 before mentioned and this hampering in the exercise of their right to vote, partially by selecting the candidates on the ticket of one party and those on the ticket of another party, is a result which does not seem equitable or proper if, as the case is, the law does not forbid that an elector or voter of one party can have the right to vote, if he sees fit, for candidates of another party, a right which the said law clearly grants him.

The purpose of the amendment is therefore to facilitate the voting of mixed or selected tickets in regard to the names contained in the different tickets of the different political parties by allowing that practice only in regard to national parties and not in regard to provincial, municipal or local political groups, or parties, as the case may be. Only national political parties, duly registered and recognized as such, can insert in their tickets the same person or persons included in the ticket or tickets of other national parties.

As it can be seen, the modification to the law refers only to the form and procedure to be followed in exercising the right recognized in paragraph 3, number third of [article] 162 for voting on the same persons in mixed tickets.

If the exercise of this right to vote mixed tickets, which is admitted in article 162, exists, as it does, and it is shown clearly, the amendment in no way conflicts with any substantial principle of the law as it rather responds to its spirit which, as shown before, does not prohibit coalitions.

My view on the subject is that, if laws should afford all possible facilities for the exercise of lawful rights granted by them, this amendment is advisable as otherwise voters would be handicapped [Page 9] in, or even prevented in some cases, from the lawful means for expressing their choice in voting.

As to the other articles of the amendment to the law modifying articles 248, 284, 291, and 288, I do not see that they substantially affect in the least, the provisions of those articles and I understand that the amendments are all not only absolutely lawful, but expedient and necessary13 and accordingly Congress has kept itself within the lines of its most clear legal powers in deciding upon those amendments which rest on grounds of both equity and justice.”

Names of those who voted for and against follow by mail.14

  1. See also Dr. Desvernine’s memorandum, p. 10.
  2. Not printed.