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of the commissioners. I think proper to mention this, although my opinion is not founded on the irregularity of the proceeding; it would have made no difference in my mind, if the plaintiff had been assessed by the joint authority of assessors and commissioners. The assessment not having been laid on him, six months before the election, I am of opinion, that he had not the right of suffrage.
YEATES, J. The true meaning of the constitution of this state must decide the present case. The plaintiff has set out in his declaration that, being a native citizen of the commonwealth, above the age of twenty-two years, and resident therein for two years next before the day of election, and having caused himself to be assessed for a county tax, on the day preceding the election, and on the same day having paid the same tax, which had been laid, but not assessed upon him, more than six months before the said election, he did offer himself to the defendant, then inspector of Walnut ward in the city of Philadelphia, as one of the voters of the said ward, wherein he then resided, and offered to prove the said circumstances to the defendant, who absolutely refused him permission to vote. The defendant has demurred to the declaration, and has assigned for cause, that it is alleged therein, that the tax paid by the plaintiff was assessed only the day preceding the said election, and not six months before the same, as is required by the constitution and laws of this commonwealth. This election was held for the choice of electors, for the purpose of choosing a president and vicepresident of the United States, at which the citizens qualified to vote for members of the general assembly were declared to be legal voters by the first section of the act of 2d February 1802. 3 Smith's Laws 483.
By the 7th section of the declaration of rights, under the former constitution of 1776, it is declared, "that all elections ought to be free, and that all freemen, having a sufficient evident common interest with and attachment
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to the community, have a right to elect officers, or to be elected into office." And by the sixth section of the frame of government, under that instrument, it is provided, "that every freeman, of the full age of twenty-one years, having resided in this state for the space of one whole year next before the day of election for representatives, and paid public taxes during that time, shall enjoy the rights of an elector; provided always, that the sons of freeholders, of the age of twenty-one years, shall be entitled to vote, although they have not paid taxes." By the first section of the 3d article of our present state constitution, it is declared, that "in elections by the citizens, every freeman, of the age of twenty-one years, having resided in the state two years next before the election, and within that time paid a state or county tax, which shall have been assessed at least six months before the election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector; provided, that the sons of persons qualified as aforesaid, between the ages of 21 and 22 years, shall be entitled to vote, although they have not paid taxes."
The object of these special provisions unquestionably was, in the language of the old constitution, to allow only those to give their suffrages, who "had a sufficient evident common interest with and attachment to the community," and who, therefore, must necessarily participate in the prosperous or adverse fortunes of the republic. But the question here is, whether the word " assessed," in this first section, is to be referred to a general or an individual tax? I clearly think it must be taken in the latter sense. The convention that formed the last constitution had the whole system of taxation before them, and state and county taxes were then in operation. They could not be ignorant, that rates and assessments were considered, in former laws, as synonymous expressions; as in the old "act for raising county rates and levies," passed 20th March 1724, §§ 5, 10, 16 (1 Dall. Laws 209); in the supplement thereto of 15th August 1732, § 2 (Ibid. 282); in
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another supplement of 1st October 1779, §§ 1, 6 (Ibid. 807); and in the "act to raise effective supplies for the year 1782," passed 27th March 1782, §§ 9, 11, 18, 22 (2 Ibid. 4). The term assessment is frequently applied to the rates wherewith individuals are taxed, while the laying of a tax is made referable to the quotas payable by a county or township.
But why this sedulous attention in increasing the time of residence within the state from one to two years? Why were not the convention satisfied with the expressions in the former constitution, "paying public taxes within the year," as a pre-requisite in the voter? Was not the instrument modelled as we find it, to add to the security of the government, by the voter being required to give unequivocal evidence of his common interest with and attachment to the commonwealth? One otherwise qualified, who justly prizes the value of the elective franchise, can readily have his name enrolled by the proper officer, in his list of taxables, six months before the election; but it may lead to great abuses, if this may be procrastinated to the eve of an election. I cannot see the propriety of saying, that a citizen has paid a county tax, assessed within a given time, on his particular ward or township, unless his portion thereof has been previously fixed and made certain; besides, the word "assessed" implies in itself a lawful assessment, and a tax laid on the day immediately preceding the election (on the 29th of October) cannot be reconciled with the provisions in the 7th section of the act of 11th April 1799, "for raising and collecting county rates and levies." 3 Smith's Laws 394.
I feel myself fortified in my construction, from a careful perusal of the minutes of the convention that formed the constitution. On the 21st December 1789, the committee of nine members, appointed on the 11th December instant, reported the draft of a proposed constitution, wherein art. III., sect. 1, is as follows: "In elections by the citizens, every freeman, of the age of twenty-one
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years, having resided in the state two years next before the days of the election respectively, and paid taxes within that time, shall enjoy the rights of an elector; the sons of freeholders, of the age aforesaid, shall be entitled to vote, though they have not paid taxes." Minutes of Convention 42. The convention having, afterwards, resolved itself into a committee of the whole body, the proposed constitution was fully debated, and many amendments were made therein. On the 2d February 1790, the first section of article 3d was debated and agreed upon in these words: "In elections by the citizens, every freeman, of the age of twenty-one years, having resided in the state two years next before the days of election respectively, and paid public state or county taxes within that time, which tax shall have been assessed upon him, at least six months before the election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector.” Minutes of Grand Committee 81. The grand committee having reported the constitution agreed upon by them, the same was considered, article by article, in convention, and debated. The first section of the third article of the proposed plan of government being under consideration, on the 13th February following, the word "public" seems to have been omitted, as superfluous, and the word “tax" was struck out, on motion, the same having been put to vote; the clause in favor of the sons of persons qualified to vote, between the age of twenty-one and twenty-two years, was added in the close of this section; and with these amendments, the same was adopted by the convention. Minutes of Convention 93-5. On the 18th February, three members were appointed a committee (Mr. Wilson, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Findley) to revise and correct so much of the report of the committee of the whole, as had been adopted by the convention. Ibid. 113. They made report accordingly, on the 24th February, retaining therein the words "upon him," in the 1st section of the 3d article, as had been agreed upon in convention. Ibid. 129. In the second session of the convention, on 13th
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August 1790, this section was considered and adopted, as it had been reported by the committee of three members, still retaining the words "upon him." Ibid. 154. And no other debate or vote was had on the 1st section of the 3d article afterwards; although the other sections of the same article were reconsidered. On the 21st August following, it was ordered, that Mr. Wilson, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Smith, Mr. Findley and Mr. Addison should be a committee to revise, correct and arrange so much of the constitution for the government of this commonwealth as had been adopted by the convention. Ibid. 176. And on the 30th August, the committee made their report, omitting the words "upon him," in the first section of the third article (Ibid. 198); which was adopted by the convention, and afterwards, on the 2d September 1790, signed by the members. Ibid. 216.
It cannot be contended, if the phraseology of the section had remained, as it had been agreed upon in the committee of the whole, revised by the committee of three members, and adopted in full convention on 13th August 1790, any doubt could have arisen on the construction thereof; because a tax paid by a voter, which had been assessed upon him, must, of necessity, be individual. Nor can it be conceived, for a single moment, that the special committee of five (of whom four were learned in the law, and three had been the former committee of, revisal) had the slightest intention of changing the sense of the instrument, respecting the right of franchise, as theretofore settled in debate; because they had no such delegated power; they were barely authorized to revise, correct and arrange so much of the constitution as had been previously adopted by the convention. Should I be permitted to hazard a conjecture, I should suppose that it struck the committee, that it might be questionable, whether the words "upon him," did not narrow the construction to a personal or polltax, and might lead to a doubt, whether a tax on property was included, and that by leaving out those words, it