MP casts eye over first ballot box

Victoria Atkins MP with the first ballot box
Victoria Atkins MP with the first ballot box

Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins has viewed an original ballot box used in the first-ever election which permitted voting in secret.

The ballot box was used in a by-election in 1872. The election was marked as a remarkable event by the Times newspaper for its absence of violence and drunkenness, which, up to this point, had been the norm at all elections.

This was the first election after the Ballot Act of July 1872, which made provision for voting in secret, despite fierce opposition within Parliament.

The ballot box still has the wax seals that ensured votes were not tampered with once the box was closed.

Victoria said: “This ballot box is an important symbol of electoral reform; it received the votes cast in the first election held in secret in August 1872, which is a freedom we still hold dear today. I was interested to hear of the raucous nature of elections before secret ballots were introduced – happily, our polling stations were much calmer in May 2015.”