The Study of Elections and Electoral Behaviour
Elections are fun. In the first half of the nineteenth century, part of the fun involved the voters getting roaring drunk at the candidates’ expense, brawling in the street with opponents and pelting them with rotten fruit. The practice of candidates ‘treating’ voters was effectively ended by the Second Reform Act of 1867 which greatly enlarged the electorate. There were now simply too many voters to treat. In addition, in 1872 the Ballot Act made voting secret (previously voters had had to declare their choice in public) so that candidates could no longer check that the voters they had treated actually voted for them. Finally, in 1883, the Corrupt Practices Act outlawed treating (much to the disappointment of most voters, one suspects).
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