James Madison Papers

Thomas Law to James Madison, 3 August 1829

Augt 3—1829—

Dear Sir

As malignant feelings excited at elections disturb the harmony of Society, & as Bank Directors Sheriffs & their Deputies &ca have an improper influence when almost every one in these times is more or less in their power; permit me to suggest the introduction of a law that a freeholder shall be permitted to vote vivâ voce or by ballot

In clubs members are voted for by ballot, that enmity may not be shewn to an opponent—

In Maryland after the judges of election have decided his title to vote, the freeholder gives in his ticket either rolled up or open, as he pleases, & would it not be adviseable to give this option in Virginia—This will enable a man to vote according to his judgement & conscience, without the dread of consequences from private resentment.

By this mode Demagogues would be prevented from forcing Voters to elect contrary to their real sentiments. With apologies for this intrusion I remain With unfeigned Esteem regard & respect

Thos Law

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

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