Did Stalin Really Say That Thing About Votes?

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Dec. 13 2000 3:41 PM

Did Stalin Really Say That Thing About Votes?

Perhaps your e-mail box has already received this spam alleging that Stalin once said, "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes"? Slate's own Anne Applebaum cited it yesterday. But did Joe really say it?

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Almost certainly, no. Let's just say Joseph Stalin is not known to have waxed forth on the nature of voting and was singularly unconcerned with elections. Well, there was that time in 1936 when the central committee of the Communist Party gave three more votes to a Stalin opponent than to Stalin. Within three years, two-thirds of the members had been murdered.

For an alternative remark on voting, here's a documented one (from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations) by Tammany Hall boss William Marcy Tweed: "As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?"

Explainer thanks Uri Ra'anan of the Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology, and Policy at Boston University.