The above term has both national and local implications but generally means efforts of candidates and/or their supporters to get the individual voters to the polls on Election Day.
In years past (and today) candidates would hire vans to transport their prospective voters from nursing homes and individual residences to increase their support. Unfortunately, sometimes the driver of the vans would take money from more than one candidate and, although they would initially transport voters early in the morning, the vans would sometimes not be able to transport voters all day due to alleged vehicle problems or lack of gas by deliberate design and would wind up parked by the side of the road for a while before picking up additional prospective voters for another candidate.
One of the favorite tactics used in city of Chattanooga elections was the use of the “chain ballots.”
In the days before liquor by the drink became legal on January 1, 1973, there were establishments in the city of Chattanooga known as “good time” houses where either legal or moonshine shots were available.
In the areas known as “controlled wards” a copy of the legitimate ballot was somehow obtained in advance.
Thirsty voters would assemble at one of the houses where they would be given a filled-in ballot with the names of the preferred slate of candidates by the political bosses.
The next step would be to transport the prospective voters to the polling place where they would be given a blank ballot by the precinct election officials.
The voters would then enter the privacy curtain and pretend to fill out the ballot while placing the blank one in their pocket. They would then deposit the previously filled in ballot in the voting box.
The last step in this exercise in Democracy would be for the voter to be transported back to the “good time” house where they would be rewarded for their participation in the American electoral process with an alcoholic drink after turning in the blank ballots to the party in charge of disbursing the liquid refreshment.
No wonder that some citizens used to refer to Chattanooga as “Little Chicago!”
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