Australian Ballot System helps prevent vote fraud on July 14, 1890.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2199
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On July 14, 1890, Seattle becomes the first city in Washington to use the Australian Ballot System for elections. This requires voters to personally appear at the polls to cast their ballots. The most noticeable change from prior elections is "the absence of ticket-peddlers, stickers, smooth-bores, challengers, swearing-in votes, healers, bull-dozing and bribery at the polls" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

Only official ballots provided by the judges at the polls were permitted. Voters entered small booths where they marked their votes. Each voter had to present proof of registration and some men who had forgotten or lost their certificates were not permitted to vote. No more than six voters (the number of booths available) were permitted at the polls at one time.

Not a Single Arrest

In prior elections, "ward stickers" and "boosters" could give a voter a pre-marked ballot and then follow him into the polls to insure that the ballot was deposited. In this election, the first under the city's new governmental charter, voters chose Mayor Harry White, Chief of Police G.C. Monroe, and City Attorney T.R. Shepard, all Republicans.

"Saloons were closed -- or at least their front doors were -- and there was very little drunkenness" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). There were no fights, and the police did not make a single arrest.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 13, 1890, p. 2; Ibid., July 14, 1895, p. 8; Ibid., July 15, 1890, p. 2.

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