Casting a Ballot
The earliest elections in America were conducted viva voce (by voice) allowing no opportunity to make a selection in privacy, “without fear or favor of any person,” as we are called upon to do when signing Vermont’s Voter’s Oath. The early nineteenth century saw the rise of the paper ballot, first in the form of handwritten cards and then pre-printed tickets. Tickets were usually printed and distributed by political parties and the format made it nearly impossible for voters to split their selections across party lines. The distinctive colored paper and elaborate illustrations continued to ensure that voting was a very public act. In 1888, Massachusetts and Kentucky became the first states to adopt the Australian Ballot, a single ballot displaying the full slate of candidates from each party, to be filled out in the privacy of the voting booth. This remains the system we use today. Displayed here are a selection of voting tickets and ballots from Vermont elections.
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