Who Invented the Secret Ballot – We Did!

Australia that is. The Secret Ballot is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery. 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 his or her choice. Without revealing their votes to anyone, the electors place the ballots into a sealed box, which is emptied later for counting.

One of the most common forms of the secret ballot involves pre-printed ballot papers with the name of the candidates or questions and respective checkboxes. Provisions are made at the polling place for the voters to be marked off the voter roll, then receive their Ballot Paper to record their preferences in secret. The ballots are specifically designed to eliminate bias and to prevent anyone from linking a voter to a ballot. This system is also known as the Australian ballot, because it originated in Australia during the 1850s – what a smart bunch we are.

In the modern world this form of splitting the voter identity from the voting preference before the votes are counted is called the Declaration Voting method.