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Ballot

vote, ballot-paper, paper, voter, polling-station and person

BALLOT is a method of voting at an election, the object aimed at being absolute secrecy, so that voters may be protected against intimidation and wrongful influence. This method is adopted in parliamentary, county council, municipal, school board, and district and parish council elections. The vote of each elector is recorded upon a separate paper called a ballot paper, which contains the names and descriptions of the candidates for election. The ballot-paper is required to have a number printed on the back and a counterfoi attached to it with the same number printed on the face ; there must be also an official mark appearing on both sides. The ballot-paper, duly marked, is delivered to the voter in the polling-station, his number on the voters' register having been marked on the counterfoil. Every person whose name appears on the register is entitled to a ballot paper and to vote thereon, unless the returninz-officer is satisfied that he is not really the same person as the one on the register, or that he has pre viously voted at the same election, or in case he refuses to take oath or affirmation. If a voter is unable, through blindness or other physical defect, to vote in the prescribed manner, or being a Jew and the election is taking place on a Saturday, or he objects on religious grounds to vote in such pre scribed manner, or if he makes a declaration that he cannot read, the pre siding officer at the polling-station must, in the presence of the agents of the candidates, mark the ballot-paper on the voter's behalf and according to his directions. Should a returning-officer wrongfully refuse to allow an elector to vote, the latter will have an action against him for damages.

To vote, the elector having obtained his ballot-paper, should secretly, in one of the compartments at the polling-station provided for the purpose, place a cross on the right-hand side opposite the name of each candidate for whom he votes ; and if in so doing the ballot-paper is inadvertently spoilt, another one may be obtained from the presiding officer. The cross should be placed

as nearly as possible in the required position, in order that there may be no uncertainty as to the candidate it is intended to refer to. Should there be such an uncertainty ; or should votes be recorded against more candidates' names than the voter is entitled to vote for ; or should anything be written or marked on it by which the voter may be identified ; or should the ballot paper be without the necessary official mark ; such ballot-paper and the votes recorded thereon, or intended to be, will be void and not counted. After having marked his ballot-paper the voter should fold it up so as to conceal his vote, and in the presence of the presiding officer, after having shown him the official mark at the back, place it in the ballot-box. All the officers, clerks, and agents in attendance at the polling-station are under the strictest obligation to maintain the secrecy of the ballot ; so also are those engaged in the counting. Nor may any such person interfere with the voter, or attempt in any way to obtain information as to the vote he has given or intends to give.

A person who commits or attempts to commit any of the following offences is liable to punishment : a returning-officer or an officer or clerk in attendance at a polling-station, to two years' imprisonment, with or without hard labour; any other person to six months. These offences arc :—(a) To forge, counter feit, fraudulently deface or fraudulently destroy any ballot-paper or the official mark thereon ; (b) to supply, without authority, any ballot-paper to any per son ; (c) to fraudulently place into any ballot-box any paper except the ballot paper he is authorised by law so to do ; (d) to fraudulently take any ballot paper out of the polling-station ; and (c) without due authority to destroy, take, open, or otherwise interfere ith any ballot-box or packet of ballot papers in use for the time being for the purposes of the election. See also COIL ITTPT PitAcTrcEs.