secret ballot

views updated May 29 2018

secret ballot was advocated as early as 1656 by James Harrington in Oceana, discussed in pamphlets at the time of the Glorious Revolution, argued by Defoe in 1708, and became a persistent radical demand in the 18th cent. It was adopted by both France and the USA for their new constitutions. Nevertheless, when the reform committee proposed it in 1831 it was struck out by Grey and the cabinet, to the great relief of William IV. The issue was then taken up by George Grote, became one of the chartists' six points, and was urged in the Commons by Henry Berkeley. Opposing it in 1842, George Byng declared that ‘a real Englishman would never conceal his feelings and opinions’ and Sir James Graham agreed that only ‘dirty and hypocritical cowards’ would wish to vote in secret. In 1856 it was introduced into the new constitutions for South Australia and Victoria. A select committee in 1869 reported in favour and in 1872 Forster succeeded in carrying the measure against some opposition by the House of Lords. The introduction of secret ballot did not eliminate bribery and corruption but was a blow to the influence of the propertied classes, particularly when the franchise was further extended in 1884.

J. A. Cannon

Secret Ballot

views updated May 17 2018

Secret Ballot ★★★ Raye Makhfi 2001 (G)

Iranian road picture/comedy gets laughs and provokes thought as a macho soldier and a liberated female pollster travel around the desert. Brought together when a ballot box parachutes down from the sky and onto the desolate beach that the soldier is guarding, the two are classic opposites. The reluctant, hardened soldier (Ab) is eventually coerced by the hopeful electioneer (Abdi) into driving her to each city on her mission to collect every vote possible for the upcoming election. The journey proves useful to both as they get more than a glimpse of the other's point of view. Their radically different views are fertile soil for the ensuing comedy as well as food for thought. The personalities and culture of Iran are explored through their journey, sometimes whimsically, in the light of democracy. Charming score matches pic's equally winsome vision of the Middle East. 105m/C VHS, DVD . IA Nassim Abdi, Cyrus Abidi; D: Babak Payami; W: Babak Payami.

secret ballot

views updated Jun 08 2018

se·cret bal·lot • n. a ballot in which votes are cast in secret.