Political candidates speak from the hustings

Victorian illustration to download showing political candidates speaking to voters from the hustings (a large rostrum/platform) erected in front of a town hall. A large crowd listens from the street below and from the windows and balconies of a nearby inn.

After the candidates had made their speeches from the hustings, the returning officer asked for a show of hands from the voters. If this was decisive, the candidate was declared elected. If the show of hands was not decisive, polling then took place. Each voter had to mount the hustings, where he orally declared his vote, and his name and vote was recorded in the poll book. After counting the votes, the returning officer announced the result from the hustings.

The obvious disadvantage of this system was that employers, landowners and landlords, for example, were able to use their power over their employees or tenants to influence the way they voted.

The Ballot Act of 1872 required that parliamentary and local government elections be held by secret ballot to prevent the bribery, intimidation or blackmail of the voters.