• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

The History of the Secret Ballot

OwenM

The patronising flippancy of youth
Location
Colwyn Bay/Manchester
Pronouns
He/him
#3
One thimg I would note is that the Australian ballot form is still far from universal - AIUI the standard in much of Europe and Latin America is for the selecting ballots from a table still, but you're at least theoretically expected to take more than one into the booth (or I think in some cases are handed a file of them, or a booklet to tear out the one you want from). In Japan I think you write candidates' names with a list provided and in Finland an assigned number (again, with a list in the booth).
And I believe in the US South the Australian ballot was often seen as an anti-black measure.
 

Indicus

<insert title here>
Location
Trawno
Pronouns
he/him
#4
One thimg I would note is that the Australian ballot form is still far from universal
I did learn of this, but only after I wrote the article. Unfortunately, the sources I used for this article didn’t mention that (one of them mentioned that France uses envelopes as a measure of further security, but not that it uses ballots taken from a table still!).

But still, in many ways elections have grown more consistent over time between nations, and this is in part because of the rise of the secret ballot, or at least a form of it. Secrecy of the ballot has become important and vital to representative government in a way it was not prior to the nineteenth century.

And I believe in the US South the Australian ballot was often seen as an anti-black measure.
Now that I did not know - I guess I’ll have to look into that.
 

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#5
Then of course you've got the variation in ballot boxes- Britain viewing an opaque box as needed to protect secrecy, other countries theseadays going transparent to help demonstrate there's not been ballot stuffing. And in counting (manual verses mechanical/electronic and which is more vulnerable) and whether declaration of results is a continuous process or only on completion of counting the votes.
 

Indicus

<insert title here>
Location
Trawno
Pronouns
he/him
#8
other countries theseadays going transparent to help demonstrate there's not been ballot stuffing.
Not just these days - transparent ballot boxes are almost as old as the secret ballot itself. Here’s an interesting article on that subject I found.

There is also something to be said about the use of symbols to represent candidates in countries like India, to allow illiterate citizens to vote.

Really, we could write hundreds of articles on voting processes and their histories.
 
Last edited:

Francisco Cojuanco

Well-known member
Location
Arizona
#10
Now that I did not know - I guess I’ll have to look into that
Basically you were given one ballot for each office, and one ballot box for each office, which in Ameri a is a lot as often federal, state and local races are held on the same day. You had to fill out the ballot in writing for each office, and the ballot boxes were only distinguished by labels.

Now remember that a lot of black voters were illiterate, and you see how it can be a vote suppression tool.
 
Last edited:

Redolegna

Champagne Socialist
Moderator
Published by SLP
Location
Paris
Pronouns
he/him
#11
I am currently reading Mike Duncan's The Storm Before the Storm and after Tiberius Gracchus's murder, a fellow tribune introduced the secret ballot as a reform for the various popular assemblies around 130 BC. This met with plenty of opposition by the senators who were not keen on not overseeing how their pledged clienteles were voting.
 

Indicus

<insert title here>
Location
Trawno
Pronouns
he/him
#12
I would just like to note I have found the type of secret ballot promoted by the Chartism movement, a radical movement in Britain during the 1830s and 40s. It consisted of a box, with holes for voters to put a ballot ball into. Then the box would mechanically record the vote on a dial at the front, and then the ballot ball would fall out the other end of the ballot box, probably for everyone else to see that only one vote was detected.

So, if Chartism were to win (and I mean if it won at the time, not in the sense of "winning in the long run"), it would be interesting to see the effects of the implementation of such a ballot system.

 

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#13
I would just like to note I have found the type of secret ballot promoted by the Chartism movement, a radical movement in Britain during the 1830s and 40s. It consisted of a box, with holes for voters to put a ballot ball into. Then the box would mechanically record the vote on a dial at the front, and then the ballot ball would fall out the other end of the ballot box, probably for everyone else to see that only one vote was detected.

So, if Chartism were to win (and I mean if it won at the time, not in the sense of "winning in the long run"), it would be interesting to see the effects of the implementation of such a ballot system.
Interesting variation on Ancient Greek practice there.

Particularly when paired with really modern sounding things like 'Deputy Returning Officer.