Did Richard Daley Steal the 1960 Election for Kennedy?

I met one of (the elder) Richard Daley’s grandsons yesterday. Great guy. At the risk of poisoning a possible friendship, I just had to ask him whether his grandfather really stole the election for Kennedy in 1960 through vote fraud in Chicago.

He said no. And I believe him.

I once had a research assistant spend a month going through old voting records to find any evidence of fraud in the 1960 presidential election in Illinois. We couldn’t find a thing. There are lots of ways to cheat that we wouldn’t have detected, but the easiest ones we likely would have found. Honestly, I was shocked we found nothing.

There is an interesting article five years ago on Slate about that election and possible fraud.


I can believe that. One of the illegal things that party precint workers do is use the absentee ballot to "help" elderly people fill it in. The elderly person may not want to vote the straight ticket, but the precint worker is right there with them, so it's "And who do you want for dog catcher?"
If it's your minister (black ministers tend to be democrats these days, white ministers increasingly tend to be republican) what are you going to say?
Absentee ballots are one way to get around holding the election on a working day, but holding the election on a weekend is better. You have more people available to tend the polling place and make sure there is no funny business and you don't have to sue your boss if he doesn't want to let you go.


There was fraud and likely fraud that, as you admit, the study would not have detected. Regardless, such fraud was not likely to change the results. Kennedy really did have the support of the denizens...

Captain Platypus

Only in close elections does voter irregularity ever get scrutinized. The problems in Ohio, note that I said "problems", and not a conspiracy to steal an election as some Democrat diehards would think. There were problems in Washington state as well that the Democrat diehards seem to overlook because their governor won a closely contested election.

Fixing and winning national or statewide election requires a large network of people and I don't see that happening.

Local elections in smaller communities however require far fewer people, and would probably never be questioned so that probably happens all the time. I've seen a few school levy measures pass by thin enough margins to make me wonder.

Mark Weinstein

I think that Len O'Connor (an old Chicago newsman) or Mike Royko said that what happened in 1960 was more complex. The story that one of them tells is that the Mayor tried to influence the computer predictions by bringing in the First and Twenty Fourth Wards (where legend has it dead Democrats go to vote) early and with big Kennedy margins. The idea was to have it appear that Illinois was going for Kennedy early in the evening and thus depress the Nixon vote in California. However this did not work in California, and it gave the downstate Republicans (who have also been known to raise the dead on election day) a target to shoot for, that they almost reached.
In our terms, the election game was one with second mover advantage (in a normal year the Machine would know how many dead Democrats had to show up in the two wards as the downstate vote was recorded). Daley, allegedly, gave up the second mover advantage in an attempt to pre-empt, and it almost failed.



How would a grandson know? Given the ages of the current mayor, and Bill Daley, the grandson wouldn't have been alive.

I'm not suggesting anything about the elder Daley, but stealing elections is not something anyone is going to admit to, at least anytime soon.

Dennis Bedard

The myth that the 1960 election was somehow stolen is exactly that: myth. I think it originated with disgruntled Republicans who never trusted the Daly machine. But as one reviewer posted, with years of known election shenanigans in the Windy City, it is highly unlikely that downstate and suburban Republicans had not devised their own graveyard voting drives to counter Daly. No party in American politics can claim a monopoly on virtue. The graveyard vote was probably as close as the actual one. Another perspective that was never considered. I remember reading Dave Powers' and Kenny O'Donnell's book "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye." Granted this was political hagiography of the worst sort but there is a segment where Kennedy receives a call from Daly late on election night and is assured that "don't worry Senator, with the help of a few friends in Chicago, you will carry Illinois." Kennedy, after hanging up, related the conversation to his advisers with the comment that he really did not want to know what that meant. Another point: it was always in Daly's best interest to perpetrate this myth. Having a president who squeaked by indebted to him was invaluable. But even if Kennedy lost Illinois, he still would have beaten Nixon. That is the fact that I never understood.



This is what I know for sure what happened In 1960 I was a Democrat Ward Leader in Cleveland's First Ward. On election night Ray T. Miller, Cuyahoga County Dem Chairman and Dick Daley were on the phone discussing the results. This is what I overheard. The Nixon people were screaming for a recount in Cook County. Daley said that he would agree to a recount if it was a state wide recount. Nixon said no to that deal. There was much concern about Republican vote fraud in souther Illinois. And it would not make a difference in the election. Kennedy would still have won even if Nixon carried Illinois.


My father worked at a small savings and loan in a city 180 miles south of Chicago where the political machine was modeled after Mayor Daly's. One election day, a customer came in to deposit a (for him) rather large check. He bragged about getting paid to vote for the incumbent 17 times that day.

There has always been voter fraud, but it can only make a difference in close elections like 1960, 2000, and 2004.


OF COURSE daley stole the election!
people said at the time that nixon won & had he done a recount it would have been verified, but he was "told" not to do it.
And then there was sam giancana and the teamsters. Joe Kennedy made a deal with them to make sure his son won in places like chicago and west viriginia. No offense intended, but what does
daleys grandson know?


in chicago they say "vote early and vote often!

Steven Tellers

I have heard that Lyndon Johnson also stole Texas for kennedy in the 1960 election.


>>>>I once had a research assistant spend a month going through old voting records to find any evidence of fraud in the 1960 presidential election in Illinois. We couldn't find a thing.<<<<< Are you really surprised that you couldn't find a thing? The Daley political machine controlled the Cook County State's Attorneys office, the local/municipal judges (all elected positions), as well as the Cook County Clerk's office (overseer of elections).