Re: Paper on Privacy in Electronic Voting for the Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society

From: <dr-jekyll_at_att_dot_net>
Date: Wed Jun 16 2004 - 14:00:47 CDT

A truly excellent document.

One minor point on an historical point. The statement "In the US, the use of secret ballots followed their adoption in Australia and the United Kingdom in the 1870's ...." . I would suggest "Secret ballots, although not always required, have been in use in America since colonial times. The Australian Ballot, one which is guarantees all ballots to be uniform in appearance because it is printed and distributed by the government, was adopted in throughout most of the US the late 1800's."


Secret ballots were in use in America prior to the invention of the Australian Ballot. In 1682, the Province of Pennsylvania in its Frame of the Government required "THAT all the elections of Members or Representatives of the People, to serve in the Provincial Council and General Assembly ........ shall be resolved and determined by ballot. (1)

In 1782, the legislature of the Colony/State of New Jersey tried to intimidate Tories by requiring viva voce voting. (At that time, about half of New Jersey voted with ballots and the other half viva voce.) They rescinded this in their next session (2). In 1796, the State of New Jersey required federal elections to be by ballot and extended that to state elections the following year. (3)

In the 1853 pamphlet SECRET SUFFRAGE, Edward L. Pierce recounted Massachusetts' battle to make the secret ballot truly secret. The Massachusetts Constitution in 1820 required elections for representatives to have "written" votes. In 1839, the legislature attacked the secrecy of the written ballot by requiring the ballot to be presented for deposit in the ballot box open and unfolded. In 1851, the legislature passed the "Act for the better security of the Ballot" which provided that the ballots be deposited in the ballot box in sealed envolpes of uniform size and appearance furnished by the secretary of the Commonwealth (State of Massachusetts). The battle waged until a provision in the State Constitution made the secret ballot mandatory. (4)

(1) Votes andProceedings of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania. Printed and sold by B. Franklin and D. Hall, at The New Printing Office, near the Market. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania MDCCLII, Page xxxi.
(2) The History of Voting in New Jersey, Richard P. McCormick, Rutgers University Press, Brunswick, New Jesery, 1953. Page 74
(3) Ibid Page 106
(4) SECRET SUFFRAGE, Edward L. Pierce, Published by the Ballot Society, No. 140 Strand, London, England 1853. Page 7.

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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:17 2004

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