Secret ballot  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum is anonymous, forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote buying. The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.

Secret ballots are used in conjunction with various voting systems. The most basic form of secret ballot utilizes blank pieces of paper, upon which each voter writes his or her choice. Without revealing the votes to anyone, the voter would fold the ballot paper and place it in a sealed box, which is emptied later for counting. An aspect of secret voting is the provision of a voting booth to enable the voter to write on the ballot paper without others being able to see what is being written. Today, printed ballot papers are usually provided, with the names of the candidates or questions and respective check boxes. Provisions are made at the polling place for the voters to record their preferences in secret, and the ballots are designed to eliminate bias and to prevent anyone from linking voter to ballot.

A problem of privacy arises with moves to improve efficiency of voting by the introduction of postal voting and electronic voting. Some countries permit proxy voting, which some argue is inconsistent with voting privacy.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Secret ballot" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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