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What is the secure voting principle of H.S. Chapman

Chapman’s inspired plan for ‘secure voting’ answered the persistent objections of the Chief Secretary W.C.Haines and Attorney General W.Stawell in the Legislative Council.

The first had complained that it would be impossible to distinguish a dishonest vote from an honest vote if voting was entirely secret. The second had lashed himself into ‘a foaming frenzy’ fulminating that the secret ballot, originally suggested, was ‘unworkable, mischievous and would cause enormous expense’: “The mischief of the ballot was that, by it, every facility was given for double voting and impersonation. There would be nothing to prevent a man from asking for a card, and getting one, at every booth (Victorian History Magazine Vol .8 1920 p.12).” 

Professor Scott summarised the final scheme of the Victorian Parliament thus: 

1. That the Returning Officer (RO) should provide at every booth or polling place a separate or inner room or compartment, where any communication or observation from without is impracticable. The voter should prepare his ballot paper, mark out the names of the candidate for whom he did not intend to vote, and deposit the same in the ballot box. He should cause to be placed in the booth a desk or table provided with ink and pens, and another table with a locked box of which the RO should keep the key, with a cleft or opening in such box capable of receiving the ballot papers.  

2. The RO should provide for printing the names of the candidates on ballot-papers, which he should keep in his custody till the day of election, when he should deliver such number of ballot-papers, signed by himself, as he should deem sufficient for the electors, who might vote at each booth or polling place, to the Deputy Returning Officers.  

3. Each candidate should appoint one person, who should make a declaration pledging him to assist faithfully at the election and to act as a scrutineer at the election.

4. The RO, having satisfied himself of the right to vote of any person presenting himself as an elector, should deliver one ballot-paper to him. His name should then be marked in a book compiled in a consecutive series of the alphabet, commencing with A. The RO should enter a number, in consecutive series commencing with no. 1, opposite the name of each elector, and write the corresponding number opposite his name in the book on the ballot paper of the elector. 

5. Each Deputy RO should seal the unused ballot papers in a parcel and deliver them to the RO with an account specifying the number used by voters, and those left unused.   A further amendment to the Bill in 1863 provided that all ballot papers should be sealed up at the close of the election, and forwarded to the Clerk of the Legislative Council or Assembly, according as whether the election may have concerned the one or the other, to be kept by him safely for a year.

TV camera and operator  on the balcony watching the counting the UK.


The first Victorian Parliament as an independent State, the first in the world to be elected by this method, met in this handsome building. It was copied world –wide in America, the UK, and many other countries, and still operates in the UK.



"That the electoral system is open to manipulation is beyond question
 ... Fraudulent enrolment is almost impossible to prevent."

(NSW Electoral Commissioners, Messrs R. Cundy and Ian Dickson, NSW Government Inquiry 1989)

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