313 U.S. 299, 61 S.Ct. 1031, 85 L.Ed. 1368 ( 1941)
The Classic case should be read with two previous decisions of the Court in mind. In NEWBERRY V. UNITED STATES ( 256 U.S. 232: 1921), the Court had held that elections in the constitutional sense did not include state primaries. In GROVEY V. TOWNSEND ( 295 U.S. 45: 1935), the Court held that political parties were free to define the conditions of party membership that had to be met by voters at primaries, and that such action was not "state action," even though the state accepted the primary results. The Classic case is important, then, not only for the broad definition of elections and the right to vote, but for its prophecy of a new and less mechanical view of what constituted state action. In the latter aspect, the case is significant for the future application of the equal-protection-oflaws clause. The case itself involved the alleged failure of state election officials, Classic and others, to count ballots properly in a congressional primary election in Louisiana. From an adverse District Court judgment, the United States appealed.
MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court. . . .
. . . The questions for decision are whether the right of qualified voters to vote in the Louisiana primary and to have their ballots counted is a right "secured by the Constitution" within the meaning of §§19 and 20 of the Criminal Code, and whether the acts of appellees charged in the indictment violate those sections. . . .
Section 19 of the Criminal Code condemns as a criminal offense any conspiracy to injure a citizen in the exercise "of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Section 20 makes it a penal offense for anyone who, "acting under color of any law," "willfully subjects or causes to be subjected any inhabitant of any State . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges and immunities secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States." The Government argues that the right of a qualified voter in a Louisiana congressional primary election to have his vote counted as cast is a right secured by Article I, §§2 and 4 of the Constitution, and that a conspiracy to deprive the citizen of that right is a violation of §19, and also that the willful action of appellees as state officials, in falsely counting the ballots at the primary election and in falsely certifying the count, deprived qualified voters of that right and of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, all in violation of §20 of the Criminal Code. . . .
We look then to the statutes of Louisiana here involved to ascertain the nature of the right which under the constitutional mandate they define and confer on the voter, and the effect upon its exercise of the acts with which ap-