The story is not true but it does capture the flavor of a place where rigging voting machines was not completely unheard of, and where political shenanigans were more or less openly acknowledged. Earl Long, for example, is reputed to have regularly told people, "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, reportedly had a tried-and-true method for getting 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 the precinct.
Dudley J. LeBlanc, state senator and gubernatorial candidate from Vermilion Parish, used flattery. During one of his campaigns, he visited 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.
LeBlanc talked politics about a half an 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."
He 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 half a dozen or so.
Then his eyes lit up. "This is the one," he said," handing over a medal exactly like every other one 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."
And then there were always tricks that could be played on election day--even before Uncle Earl told the world that with a proper mechanic he could make the old voting machines do anything he wanted them to do, including "whistle 'Dixie'."
In the days of paper ballots, for example, election rules provided that a ballot was not valid if there were any extraneous marks on it.
If I was a poll-watcher and thought you voted against my candidate, 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.