At least in the good old days, everyone participated, sometimes longer than expected. One of the Longs, I think it was Earl, is reputed to have said, "When I die I want to be buried in Louisiana because I want to stay active in politics."
The late Daley J. (Cat) Doucet, who was one of the most colorful of a list of colorful sheriffs of St. Landry Parish, had a tried-and-true method to get his vote to the polls. He'd visit the poorer districts of the parish before the election and distribute a new shoe to each of his supporters. Just one shoe.
His voters didn't get the other shoe until after the election, and then only if Cat carried their precinct
Dudley LeBlanc, the state senator and gubernatorial candidate from Vermilion Parish, used flattery. During one of his campaigns, he visited with an influential fellow in south Louisiana, a staunch leader in the Catholic Church. Dudley had just been to visit the Pope, or so he said, anyway.
Dudley talked politics for about a half-hour with the man, got up to leave, then snapped his fingers and turned back. "I almost forgot," he said. "You know, when I visited the Pope, I thought about you."
LeBlanc went to his car, and returned with a shoebox filled with identical religious medals. He fumbled through the box, picked up one, looked at it, picked up another, looked at it, went through a half-dozen or so.
Then his eyes lit up. "This is the one," he said, handing over a medal exactly like every other medal in the box. "This is the one I had the Pope bless especially for you."
Warren J. (Puggy) Moity was a classic campaigner—ask any television station manager who sat with his hand poised over the "bleep button" while Puggy was on the air.
Moity once ran for four different offices, from state to local level, all in the same election, just so he could "campaign against," (read that, ridicule in sometimes salty terms), any of his political enemies no matter what they were running for .
"What happens," he was asked, "if you should actually win all four?"
"Oh," he said, "I'll just keep the highest one and quit the others."
But if you got too many people to the polls, your opponent was obliged to do something about it. Some local politicians prized precincts in the far reaches of the Atchafalaya Basin. All sorts of things could happen — and did — to a ballot box being boated across the swamp.
And, of course, there were ways to undo a vote on the paper ballots — since election rules provided that a ballot was not valid if there were any extraneous marks on it.
One common trick: If I were a poll-watcher and thought that you voted against my man, I'd use the eraser end of my pencil to push it well down into the ballot box, "to be sure nobody can fool with it." The ink I'd smeared across the tip of my eraser made an illegal mark and spoiled the ballot, of course. But you didn't need to know that.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.