The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are confidential. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery.
The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy. Secret ballots are suitable for many different voting systems.
The most basic form may be blank pieces of paper, upon which each voter writes only their choice. Without revealing their vote to anyone, the voters place the ballots into a sealed box, which is emptied later for counting.
One of the most common forms in the modern world provides for pre-printed ballot papers with the name of the candidates or questions and respective checkboxes. Provisions are made at the polling place for the voter to record their preferences in secret. The ballots are specifically designed to eliminate bias and to prevent anyone from linking voter to ballot. This system is also known as the Australian ballot, because it originated in Australia during the 1850s. In the United States, it is also known as the Massachusetts ballot since Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to use the secret ballot.A History of the Australian Ballot System in the United States
The purpose of this dissertation is to trace the introduction and development of the Australian ballot system in the United States of America.
The first portion of the thesis discusses the demand for reform which grew out of the evils of the unofficial ballot. The unofficial ballot developed from the use of voting papers by certain American colonies, in particular New England; and it gradually superseded the viva voce method. This plan proved very defective, and in the period of corruption following the Civil War it was made the instrument of great abuse.
This led to the introduction of the Australian system, which provided a secret ballot, furnished by the state and supplied to the electors on the day of election within the polling-place, and marked in secret by the electors. The second portion of the thesis treats in detail the development and present status of the Australian ballot in the United States. The third portion of the thesis discusses the attitude which the courts have taken toward the secret ballot. In Appendix A is printed the text of the original South Australian Ballot Act, the text of which is not in print in any of the large libraries of the United States.
This dissertation takes up a study of the ballots used in the election of public officers only. Primary ballots are not included.
The material used has been primarily the session laws, digests, and codes of the states, and the decisions of the courts, although newspapers and periodicals and the debates of constitutional conventions were also employed. A bibliography covering the field is given in Appendix B.The writer wishes to acknowledge the assistance given by Professor Charles E. Merriam and Professor Ernst Freund of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and by Dean John H. Wigmore of Northwestern University Law School.
Chapter II: The Origin of the Australian Ballot System and its Introduction into the United States
1. The Origin of the Australian Ballot
2. Its Introduction into the United States
3. The Arguments For and Against the Australian Ballot
Chapter III: The Development of the Australian Ballot in the United States
1. The Printing and Distribution of the Ballots
2. The Procedure for Placing the Names of Candidates on the Ballot
3. Provisions for Publicity and Instruction of Voters
4. The Arrangement of the Polling-Place
Chapter IV: The Form of the Ballot
1. The Different Types of Ballots in the United States
2. The Office-Group versus the Party-Column Ballot
3. Present Status of the Form of the Ballot
Chapter V: The Manner of Voting; Penal Sanctions
1. Obtaining the Ballot
2. Marking the Ballots
3. Assisting the Voters
4. Penal Sanctions
Chapter VI: The Attitude of the Courts toward the Australian Ballot
1. The Constitutionality of the Australian Ballot
2. The Policy of the Courts in Interpreting the Ballot LawsChahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_ballotpter
VII: Summary and Conclusion
The Text of the Original Australian Ballot Act