Ballot Reform, is a term applied to such improvements in methods of voting as tend to eliminate unfairness at elections. Nearly every State in the Union has adopted some plan intended to make the ballot wholly secret. There is a single ballot, usually called a blanket ballot, because of its size, on which the voter indicates his choice -- for a straight vote -- by marking a cross in the circle at the head of the column containing the nominees of his party, and for a scattered or split vote, by making a cross in the space before the desired name. Two forms of the single ballot are in use: (1) One, following the Australian plan, in which the titles of the officers are arranged alphabetically, the names of the candidates and the party following; (b) one which groups all names and offices by parties.
In New York State the single ballot has one column for each organization that had made regular nominations, and another column containing only the titles of the offices to be filled, with a space on the left to indicate the choice by making a cross, and a space beneath the title of office, in which the voter could write the name of any person for whom he desired to vote, whose name was not printed in any of the party columns of the ballot. Each of the columns is headed by a registered party emblem, the circle in which to indicate the choice for a straight vote, and the name of the party organization. Corruption is baffled, if not defeated by the practical inability of a voter to show how he is voting.
A new feature of ballot reform is the substitution for the ballot paper, which is folded and deposited by hand, of voting machines, which are contrivances that both record the votes and count them, enabling the inspectors to see at any moment how many votes have been cast, and for whom. No machine has as yet come into general use, but several States have authorized their employment, and others have referred the question of their adoption to local option.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.