This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot with Alicia Cheng


Please join the Wilton League of Women Voters, Wilton Library and the Wilton Historical Society for a community program featuring Alicia Cheng, who will speak about her recent book: This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot.

Cheng’s book, the first illustrated history of printed ballot design, illuminates the noble but often flawed process at the heart of our democracy. An exploration and celebration of US ballots from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this visual history reveals unregulated, outlandish, and, at times, absurd designs that reflect the explosive growth and changing face of the voting public. The ballots offer insight into a pivotal time in American history—a period of tectonic shifts in the electoral system—fraught with electoral fraud, disenfranchisement, scams, and skullduggery, as parties printed their own tickets and voters risked their lives going to the polls.

Cheng currently serves as the Head of Design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also serves as an external critic for the MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at Yale University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Barnard College, and the Cooper Union School of Art. She will present and discuss some of the remarkably varied and colorful formats of electoral ballots in American democracy’s early days featured in her recent book.

Stephanie Thomas, the Secretary of State of Connecticut, plans to join the event as our special guest. Elm Street Books will be selling copies and Ms. Cheng will sign books after the talk. A portion of the proceeds goes to Wilton Library. Registration requested.

Please register online, or call (203)762-6334. For more information visit or email