Political Reform

Restoring Sovereignty

  • Progressives spearheaded this movement
  • It was a movement which introduced many reforms to…
    • Strip power from the party bosses
    • Get talented individuals to enter politics
  • One reform enabled voters, rather than party bosses to choose party candidates; called the direct primary
    • Mississippi in 1902
    • Wisconsin in 1903
    • By 1916, all but three states adopted this
  • Another movement was aimed to strip state legislators the power to choose senators
    • 1912, Senate obliged to create the 17th amendment
  • The second reform was the initiative. It allowed reformers to put legislative proposals before voters in general elections without having to wait for state legislatures.
  • Third was the referendum. It gave voters the right to repeal an unpopular act that a state legislature has passed.
  • The fourth was the recall. It let voters hold a re-election for any office members.

Large Hypocrites

Progressives wanted many voters to vote free of coercion, but they didn't want voters to vote against them. They were highly contradictory. Progressives allowed women the right to vote, but they also were fine with laws that stopped large numbers of minorities voting.

The Australian Ballot

It was a new government regulation of voting. This way stated that all voting should be done in private. It also required the government to print the ballots with all the candidates' names. This helped voting become less corrupted, and bribery was easily reduced. Although it made dividing one's votes across party line virtually impossible.


  • Progressives passed a law that required people to bring two witnesses to vouch for their "moral character"
    • Also required people to complete a reading test, sign one's name and pay a tax
    • A minimum amount of property was something each person needed to vote
    • This stopped a significant amount of minorities from voting
      • Very prominent in the south
        • In 1904, almost all confederate states passed laws that inhibited blacks from voting
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