Compulsory Voting

Frederick William Holls
1891 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science  
586 COMPULSORY VOTING. THE history, yet to be written, of political legislation during the first century of the American Republic will contain no more instructive chapter than that devoted to the gradual development and enactment of laws protecting the ballot and providing safeguards for free, untrammelled, and honest voting. A comparison of the complicated and elaborate election machinery of our own days with the simple methods in vogue a century ago shows at a glance the great change which
more » ... taken place, and an examination of history will prove that this change has come, not suddenly, but step by step, and only in accordance with popular demand for remedies from evils which were considered both immediate and -pressing. When polling districts were small and sparsely settled, every individual voter was certain to be known to some one among the gathering which from time immemorial surrounded the polling-place. As population increased, and the basis of suffrage was widened, the danger of &dquo repeating &dquo made registry laws necessary, although even to-day they are by no means universal, and may generally be disregarded if the voter is prepared to &dquoswear in his vote&dquo on election day. On the other hand, the freedom of the individual from intimidation and undue influence has been protected; first, by the substitution of the ballot for viva voce voting, then by laws requiring the visible part of all ballots to be exactly alike, and finally by the much discussed and famous Australian system. The latter also constitutes an important safeguard against bribery, which crime has been threatened
doi:10.1177/000271629100100403 fatcat:3ou7e7naabbtvevc5pwz375ipi