Voting Booths Were a Radical 19th Century Reform to Stop Election Fraud. An idea imported from Australia, they helped enable the “secret” part of secret ballots.
Voting booths aren’t spaces that voters give much thought: you’re in, you vote, you’re out. That’s how it’s meant to be. They are designed for quick exits; one 19th century law stipulated an eight-minute limit for booth use, if all were occupied. But their unobtrusive nature is a relic of a major controversy in American democracy. When the U.S. made the controversial switch to a secret ballot, we needed a place to cast them.
According to AtlasObscura: Back in the 19th century, election day in America worked differently than it does now—there was even more drama, if you can believe that in 2016. There were no official ballots; political parties would print their own “party tickets.” Some states had standardized printing rules, but in some places voters could write down the names of whoever they wanted to vote for a hand that piece of paper in. Kentucky voted by voice almost to the end of the 1800s.
When parties printed up their tickets, each ballot listed the party’s candidates for all the seats at stake. Most voters accepted the pre-selected slate, rather than the candidates that most impressed them. There were measures one could take against an undesirable candidate, though, like physically cutting his name out of the party ticket. READ MORE
Here is a scene from the TV sitcom ‘3rd Rock From The Sun’ – Found in Season 2 Episode 6 titled “Dick the Vote”, Dick is having a major problem with how to vote his conscience as he doesn’t see an incumbent worth voting for.
Can you relate?