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The following article, taken from yesterday’s Lyttelton Times, correctly puts the opinions of very many sensible persons - As human nature is nowhere perfect under the most favorable conditions, it is not likely to be perfect on the hustings under the influence of defeat. Hence we expect a large proportion of the rejected candidates after an election to make undignified displays. The present is no exception to the rule, but we think it is an occasion on which the rule has been signalised by extreme lightness of application. The unusually large proportion of dignity and manliness in the speeches of the defeated candidates is probably the natural result of the unusual absence of excitement, which, in its turn, is due to two things, want of political interest, and the enforced calm which the election day owes to the Corrupt Practices Act. That there should be still several individuals who lay the blame of their failure upon everything and anything but the right thing, is only natural. Under the influence of disappointment men will sa,y hard things of Returning-Officers, of their opponents, of the constituency they have just been wooing. One man will blame the axle of a carriage, while another twits his opponent with the length of his_ purse, or the electors with the length of their ears. A third ta.ints the men who have rejected him with having made a mistake, a fourth uses strong language, and a string of others impute motives. In pleasant contrast are those who come up smiling, and, thanking their friends, manfully accept defeat in courteous terms, some men adding the compliments of the approaching season. This example, no doubt, all those of the defeated who took their punishment not like men, will by this time be regretting they did not follow. Into these things, however, it is useless to enter, for nothing will alter human nature, which, as we think has been remarked before, is imperfect. But there is one thing which we cannot help saying. Many of the candidates who were defeated have been expressing themselves very strongly concerning the voters who, after promising them their support, either failed to give it, or gave it to somebody else. We ask these gentlemen, what right have they to know how any man intended to vote ? Have we the ballot here ? Is not the ballot set up for the protection of those voters who require to be protected against might in the free exercise of their right as freemen 1 If people go about making out lists of voters, what does the protection of the ballot amount to ? The fact is that a law which protects the voter only at the ballot boxes, leaving him open during weeks to determined shrewdness of attack, is imperfect. As long as canvassing is permitted at all, so long is the ballot either good in name only, or the breeder of a race of electoral hypocrites. If candidates were forced to do all their electioneering in public, we should have more protection in the ballot, and less of that form of verdancy—at present very common—which is taken in by the supposed pledges of electors.

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Bibliographic details

DISCONTENTED CANDIDATES, Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 509, 15 December 1881

Word Count

DISCONTENTED CANDIDATES Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 509, 15 December 1881