Electoral Act 1856

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The Electoral Act 1856 was an act of the government of Victoria which introduced voting by secret ballot. The act was passed by a one-vote majority on 13 March 1856; it was enacted when it received assent from the Governor of Victoria on 19 March of the same year.

Victorian law was the third of its kind enacted by a government anywhere in the world. France adopted the secret ballot in the late 18th century. Tasmania adopted the secret ballot second on 7 February 1856. South Australia enacted a similar law two weeks after the Victorian law, on 2 April 1856; led by secret Ballot pioneer and advocate William Boothby. When the practice was adopted in the United States, it was called 'the Australian ballot'.


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