In the second book of his massive biography on LBJ, Means of Assent, Robert Caro tells in excruciating detail how Lyndon Johnson stole the Democratic Senatorial Primary from its winner, Governor Coke Robert Stevenson. Johnson had garnered tens of thousands of votes through illegal means, but had come up 854 votes short. The next day the “corrections” started coming in.
An entire precinct was “discovered” (in Johnson’s favor of course), A “7”, as in 765 was changed to a 9 in favor of Johnson from the absentee ballots. Nevertheless, Stevenson still managed to stay ahead by 112 votes… for 5 days. On day 6 Precinct 13 in Jim Wells county amended its count without explanation by more than 200 votes, giving Lyndon Johnson the lead.
What was particularly interesting about the new votes was that apparently all the voters had the exact same handwriting, and used the same pen, and managed to vote in alphabetical order as they appeared in the poll tax registry.
Stevenson challenged the results in federal court, and the Precinct 13 votes could have been thrown out upon inspection of the fraudulent voter list, but Box 13 disappeared long enough for Lyndon Johnson’s lawyer Abe Fortas to get Justice Hugo Black to order Box 13 permanently sealed.
Lyndon Johnson ended up winning Texas by 87 votes. Of the 203 votes, the last 2 votes were for Stevenson. Election judge Luis Salas, who confessed in 1977 that he had been the one to write in the names, explained that throwing in the last two votes for Stevenson was a joke. He thought the nice old man should get something.
The Minnesota “recount” before the recount seems to be following the same lopsided pattern of the 1948 Texas race. Poised to play the roll of Luis Salas this time is Secretary of State Mark Ritchie who was boosted into office by MoveOn.org to protect the electoral interests of Democrats in battleground states.