A History of the Australian Ballot System in the United States/Preface

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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developed from the use of voting papers by certain American colonies, in particular New England; and it gradually superseded the viva voce method.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.