“The votes were written on slips of paper brought from home—no sense in wasting the tax-payers’ money on printed ballots—and a straggling procession started for the ballot box, over which the moderator and clerk stood to insure an honest vote. The town half-wit cast his ballot with the rest, and as soon as his back was turned the clerk fished it out and pocketed it, a flagrantly illegal act condoned by everyone present on the premise that there warn’t no need to hurt his feelings.”
The above quote was taken from Louise Dickinson Rich’s memoir entitled “We Took to the Woods” (pp 303-304). Published in 1946, the book describes the author’s life in the remote mountains of western Maine around the time of the Great Depression.
The ballot event took place at the annual Town Meeting, a democratic process by which citizens of small municipalities dealt with matters of the town’s elections, budget, ordinances and other business. Town Meetings still take place today across much of New England, and much remains the same.
A board of selectmen, best described as something like a town or city council, is still elected to be more or less in charge of the town’s overall operations.