Tuesday, November 08, 2016

"Complex, Unstandardized, and Vulnerable to Corruption"

"In the 19th-century viva voce system, people went to local polling places and swore an oath that they were voting in good faith. Then, out loud and in front of anyone who cared to cluster around observing, the voter told the election judges his choices. The counting took place by hand; judges entered voter choices in poll books, keeping running totals of numbers of votes for each candidate. There were no paper ballots to tally.
"In other locations, 19th-century voters used paper ballots issued by parties—a practice that became increasingly common as the century went on. Voters brought their own ballots to the polls, and although they could write their choices on pieces of paper, parties found that providing printed ballots with the names of their candidates was a convenience that nudged voters toward voting 'straight ticket.' Parties printed their tickets on colored paper, and the ballots went into glass boxes, so that anyone observing a vote could clearly see which party a voter had chosen. The atmosphere at the polls was raucous, and party members lobbied for voters’ favor right up to the moment when they arrived at the ballot box."

Rebecca Onion in Slate looks at the changing voting processes in the nineteenth century.

And she notes that the "first congratulatory telegram" between candidates was in 1896.

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