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City of Charlottetown Archives

Imagine a time when voting meant that you had to go to the poll, yell out your name and that of the candidate you were voting for, then face public questions regarding your eligibility to vote. Or, in the event that someone was not satisfied with your choice, being asked to hand over a tax receipt to prove you were eligible to vote in the election. This was the practice in civic elections prior to the implementation of the secret ballot in 1912. In addition, voters could nominate any qualified citizen on Election Day and it was simply written in the poll book. Some individuals were nominated without their knowledge or desire to serve and still received votes! The local Guardian newspaper had complained and advocated for a “more civilized” method of voting since at least 1899. Ward representation changed over the years, from the numbers of councillors representing a given ward, to the number of wards city wide. Some calls had begun in the late 1800s for a completely at large voting system but the ward system has remained intact when voting for councillors. The mayor is elected in an at large voting system.


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