A BALLOT is a device used to cast votes in an election, and may be a
piece of paper or a small ball used in secret voting . It was
originally a small ball (see blackballing ) used to record decisions
made by voters.
Each voter uses one ballot, and ballots are not shared. In the
simplest elections, a ballot may be a simple scrap of paper on which
each voter writes in the name of a candidate , but governmental
elections use preprinted ballots to protect the secrecy of the votes .
The voter casts his/her ballot in a box at a polling station .
In British English, this is usually called a "BALLOT PAPER". The
word ballot is used for an election process within an organisation
(such as a trade union "holding a ballot" of its members).
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 3 Types of voting systems
* 4 Design
* 5 Methods
* 6 Further reading
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links
The word ballot comes from Italian ballotta, meaning a “small ball
used in voting” or a “secret vote taken by ballots” in
Ancient Greek ostraca , 5th century BC,
Ancient Agora Museum in
Athens, housed in the
Stoa of Attalus . Ancient Greek bronze
secret ballots used to cast a juror's vote on a case, 3rd century BC,
Ancient Agora Museum in Athens, housed in the
Stoa of Attalus
In ancient Greece , citizens used pieces of broken pottery to scratch
in the name of the candidate in the procedures of ostracism .
The first use of paper ballots to conduct an election appears to have
been in Rome in 139 BC.
India , around 920 AD, in
Tamil Nadu , Palm leaves were
used for village assembly elections. The palm leaves with candidate
names, will be put inside a mud pot, for counting. This was called
The first use of paper ballots in America was in 1629 within the
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony to select a pastor for the Salem Church.
Paper ballots were pieces of paper marked and supplied by voters.
TYPES OF VOTING SYSTEMS
Depending on the type of voting system used in the election,
different ballots may be used. Ranked ballots allow voters to rank
candidates in order of preference, while ballots for
first-past-the-post systems only allow voters to select one candidate
for each position. In party-list systems, lists may be open or closed
The United States, a republic, has a unique politics of long and
short ballot. Before the Civil War , many believed governmental
effectiveness was enhanced by increasing the number of elective
offices to include such comparatively minor posts as the state-level
secretary of state , county surveyor , register of deeds , county
coroner , and city clerk . A larger number of elected offices required
longer ballots, and at times the long ballot has been suggested to
have resulted in donkey voting and confusion, though the seriousness
of either problem can be disputed. Progressivists attacked the long
ballot during the
Progressive Era (circa 1893–1917).
Ballots may be tickets rather than forms, as in
Perspective view of the infamous 2000 Palm Beach County, Florida
"butterfly ballot". Top view of the same 2000 Florida
Ballot design can aid or inhibit clarity in an election. Poor designs
lead to confusion and potentially chaos if large numbers of voters
spoil or mismark a ballot. The BUTTERFLY BALLOT used in the Palm Beach
U.S. presidential election, 2000 (a ballot paper that
has names down both sides, with a single column of punch holes in the
center, which has been likened to a maze ) led to widespread
allegations of mismarked ballots. Russian ballot to the 2011
State Duma elections with list of political parties
Some political scientists prefer more explicit statements of the
voter's actual tolerances and preferences, and believe that failure to
reflect these in ballot design and voting system alternatives causes
many problems and leads to calls for electoral reform . For instance,
a non-binding referendum or poll , carried out on a ballot, carries
much more weight than one carried out with only a public sampling in a
less politically committed event than an election. For example, one
might count the number of ballots whereon the voter had crossed out
the name of the political party that nominated the candidate, even if
(maybe only if) that voter had voted for him or her. This would
indicate support for candidates but would be able to send signals to
them that the "party line" was not why that voter voted for them, but
rather, she or he expected them to act independently.
Such marking and counting could be carried out on an ordinary ballot
with no provision for it, however, there would be risk of counting it
as "spoiled" if the marks were unclear, and if ballot design had not
allowed for it initially.
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Vote counting system
* In a jurisdiction using a paper system, voters choose by marking a
ballot or, as in the case of
France , picking one
pre-marked ballot from among many. In most jurisdictions the ballots
are pre-printed with names of candidates and the text of the
The Philippines (until 2007) and
Japan are an exception.
There, voters must write the names of their candidates on the ballot.
Election officials manually count the ballots after the polls close
and may be recounted in the event of a dispute.
* In a jurisdiction using an optical scan voting system , voters
choose by filling an oval or by completing an arrow on the printed
ballot next to their chosen candidate or referendum position. Voters
with disabilities may be provided with electronic ballot marking
devices . Optical scan technology has also been used by many
standardized tests. Tabulating machines count the ballots either after
the polls close or as the voters feed the ballots into the machine, in
which case the results are not known until after the polls close.
Officials often will manually count any ballots that cannot be read or
with a write-in candidate and may recount the ballots in the event of
* In a jurisdiction using a punched card system , voters choose by
removing or "punching out" a perforated chad from the ballot next each
choice, sometimes with tools as simple as a pin, but usually with a
ballot marking device such as the Votomatic. The ballot may be
pre-printed with candidates and referenda, or may be a generic ballot
placed under a printed list of candidates and referenda. Tabulating
machines count ballots after the polls close. Officials may manually
count the ballots in the event of a dispute. Punched card voting
systems are being replaced by other voting systems because of a high
rate of inaccuracy related to the incomplete removal of the perforated
chad and the inaccessibility to voters with disabilities.
* In a jurisdiction using a mechanical voting system, often called a
"voting machine", voters choose by pulling a lever next to their
choice. There is a printed list of candidates, parties and referenda
next to the levers indicating which lever is assigned to which choice.
When the voter pulls a lever, it turns a connected gear in the
machine, which turns a counter wheel. Each counter wheel shows a
number, which is the number of votes cast using that lever. After the
polls close, election officials check the wheels' positions and record
the totals. No physical ballot is used in this system, except when the
voter chooses to write-in a candidate. Other systems are replacing
mechanical voting systems because they are inaccessible to disabled
voters, do not have a physical ballot and are getting old.
* In a jurisdiction using an electronic direct record voting system
(DRE), voters choose by pushing a button next to a printed list of
candidates and referenda, or by touching the candidate or referenda
box on a touchscreen interface. As the voter makes a selection, the
DRE creates an electronic ballot stored by in the memory components of
the system. After the polls close, the system counts the votes and
reports the totals to the election officials. Many DREs include a
communication device to transmit vote totals to a central tabulator.
The touchscreen systems remind people of an automated teller machine
(ATM) and often are described as such.
* Bonser is a method allowing the voter more than two choices for a
proposition. Choices of red, yellow and green can indicate
disapproval, requirement for more clarity and approval, for example.
* Smith, Sydney (1839). Ballot. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green
List of democracy and elections-related topics
Vote counting systems
* ^ "Ballot". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
* ^ "Ballot". Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary. Retrieved
* ^ "Ballot". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
* ^ "Panchayat Raj, Policy notes 2011-2012" (PDF). Rural
development & panchayat raj department, TN Government, India.
Retrieved 3 November 2011.
* ^ "Heritage in a park". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2 April 2010.
* ^ "Handbook on Kongu archaeological treasures". The Hindu.
Coimbatore, India. 27 June 2005.
* ^ Jones, Douglas W.. A Brief Illustrated History of Voting.
University of Iowa Department of Computer Science.
* ^ Associated Press (2003-07-14). "State:
Ballot display revives
chads, chaos of bungled election". Saint Petersburg Times Online Tampa
Bay. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
* ^ "Statement of Commissioner Victoria Wilson". Voting
Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election,
www.usccr.gov. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved
* ^ Dershowitz, 'Supreme Injustice: how the High Court hijacked
Election 2000 ', p. 22-28. ISBN 9780195148275
* ^ Bonser Method. Retrieved 2016-10-06.