19th Century Ballot Reform in California: A Study of the Huntington Library's Political Ephemera Collection
Ballot reform is an important part of the American political process. During the 1800’s, ballots changed drastically. At the beginning of the century, voters wrote the names of the candidates for whom they wished to vote on a piece of paper and put that piece of paper into the ballot box. Legislation followed that allowed voters to cast professionally printed ballots, which opened the door to political parties providing their supporters with pre-printed ballots to cast. Towards the close of the century, the Australian ballot, also known as the secret ballot, was introduced to America and over a two decade transition period was implemented nationwide. Each of these reforms caused controversy and threatened the political system by introducing new methods for committing fraud. By studying the Political Ephemeral Collection at the Huntington Library, it is possible to see how the ballots actually changed over the years as new laws were passed. Studying how ballot reform laws impacted ballot design and voting patterns in the past can aid in determining how modern day ballot reform legislation may impact the political scene in America.
Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project
VTP Working Paper Series;1
Ballot reform, Historical election law, 19th Century voting and elections, Huntington Library Collection