New comic highlights Pontefract’s role in first secret ballot

01/05/2018, PR8790

​A comic about Britain's first secret ballot – held in Pontefract in 1872 has been created thanks to a collaboration between Wakefield Council and artist Jade Sarson.

Potwallopers comic
Potwallopers comic

Potwallopers tells the story of the town's historic role in UK democracy, when for the first time voters in a Parliamentary by-election were able to make their choice in private using an 'X' on a ballot paper. 

Previously all votes were cast in public which meant the system was open to corruption and intimidation.

The Comic has been funded by the Speaker's Art Fund, a charitable trust which aims to spread knowledge about the UK's system of Government. They are aiming to reach out to new and emerging voters, aged 16 - 25 years old, to raise awareness of how democracy has evolved.

Cllr Peter Box CBE
Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council

​Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: "The Potwallopers is a very interesting, informative and humorous read, which tells of Pontefract's significant role in democracy. It was the first parliamentary election to be held after new laws which required the use of a secret ballot.

"It's a fascinating story, which also highlights how the ballot influenced the first women-led, feminist campaign in Britain so I'd encourage people and especially young people to have a read."

A potwalloper was the name given to man who was qualified to vote because he owned his own house with a fireplace big enough to boil his own potatoes, or as it was described to 'wallop a pot'.

The comic can be read online at

Alternatively, copies can be found at Pontefract Museum.

The Comic has been written by Wakefield's museum curators, John Whitaker and Dave Evans.

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