An electoral commissioner for South Australia

This is the appointment document of William Robinson Boothby to undertake the role of an electoral commissioner in South Australia.

Boothby was instrumental in the development of ‘secret ballot’ or ‘Australian ballot’ voting. His contribution, made in the Electoral Act of 1858, was to provide for each elector to place an X against the name of his preferred candidate instead of crossing out unwanted names, and for the ballot paper to show ‘no other matter or thing’ apart from the names of candidates and the returning officer’s initials on the back. From 1856 to 1903 Boothby oversaw every parliamentary election in South Australia, drafted every Electoral Act, provided solid evidence to every relevant inquiry and was the first of the federal electoral commissioners to complete his rolls and electorates for the Commonwealth. South Australian elections in his time had never been tainted with bribery or corruption.

State Library of South Australia, D 7834/3