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means of voting for candidates for office. The choice may be indicated on or by the ballot forms themselves—e.g., colored balls (hence the term ballot, which is derived from the Italian ballotta, meaning "little ball"), printed tickets, or mechanical or electronic devices—or by the depositories into which the ballots are put.

The ballot was used in Athens in the 5th cent. B.C. by the popular courts and, on the question of ostracism, by the people as a whole; in India before 300 B.C.; and in Rome by the popular assemblies and occasionally by the senate. Ballots were not used during the Middle Ages, but reappeared in the Italian communes and in elections to the papacy during the 13th cent. In the 16th and 17th cent. the ballot appeared in English borough and university elections.

The General Court of Massachusetts elected governors by ballot after 1634; corn and beans were occasionally used as ballots. Early American ballots were known as "papers": the name ballot does not occur in America before 1676. The British colonies in America were the first to elect representatives by secret ballot, and its use was made obligatory in all but one of the state constitutions adopted in the United States between 1776 and 1780. In the 19th cent. the use of the ballot became widespread in local and national elections in Europe.

Groups wishing to intimidate popular governance have opposed the ballot. The effort to reform election abuses led to the widespread use of the Australian ballot, which was adopted in Victoria in 1857, in Great Britain in 1872, and grew increasingly popular in the United States after 1888. In the latter country it gradually replaced earlier methods of voting such as the lengthy "tickets" distributed by political parties. In the Australian system all candidates' names are printed on a single ballot and placed in the polling places at public expense, and the printing, distribution, and marking of the ballot are protected by law, thus assuring a secret vote.

The Australian ballot is now used in many European countries and in almost all sections of the United States. Separate ballots are frequently distributed for referendums and constitutional propositions. Mechanical, computerized, electronic, or optically scannable means of voting (see voting machinevoting machine,
instrument for recording and counting votes. The voting machine itself is generally positioned in a booth, often closed off by a curtain to assure secrecy for the voter.
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) are now used to record about 90% of all votes in the United States. Estonia used an Internet website as alternative means of voting for local candidates in 2005 and national candidates in 2007. The institution of official ballots and the use of voting machines have helped bring political parties under the scope of the law.

Some critics have denounced the excessive length of the United States ballots, claiming that voters are thus too pressed for time in their decisions. The use of the presidential short ballot, listing only the candidates, not the electors pledged to them, has not much alleviated this problem.



an electoral document for secret voting, the form of which is established by the state bodies involved in a particular election. In the USSR the ballot indicates the surname, given name, and patronymic of the candidate for deputy registered in the given electoral district (in the elections to the people’s courts, the ballot gives the name of the candidate for people’s judge) and gives the name of the organization that has nominated him. The ballot is printed in the language of the population of the corresponding electoral district. In accordance with the Election Statute, special rooms are set aside or separate booths are equipped on the election premises for filling out the ballot.


1. the democratic practice of selecting a representative, a course of action, or deciding some other choice by submitting the options to a vote of all qualified persons
2. an instance of voting, usually in secret using ballot papers or a voting machine
3. a list of candidates standing for office
4. the number of votes cast in an election
5. a random selection of successful applicants for something in which the demand exceeds the supply, esp for shares in an oversubscribed new issue
References in periodicals archive ?
This includes making small tears to the paper, writing anything on the ballot other than the names of the candidates being voted for, or otherwise ensuring that the ballot can be distinguished from all other ballots in the ballot box.
If the voter declines redirection, the poll worker will issue a provisional ballot, which might not include all of the contests for which the voter is entitled to vote.
According to the procedures, audit teams consisting of two IEC staff members and one technical advisor from the United Nations examine ballot boxes for physical indication of fraud including ballot box stuffing, tampering, or other irregularities -through checking, for example, numbered seals, whether boxes are broken, accompanying forms and documentations, proper packing of ballot papers, manner in which ballots were completed, and presence of additional materials such as unused ballots or previously-broken seals.
More troubling than a high rate of provisional ballots being cast are instances where voters are denied the opportunity to vote, even by provisional ballot.
Foy has been correct in predicting that the absentee ballots would tend to favor him, and by Friday morning he had moved up to more than 700 votes ahead of Dantona.
After voting, citizens can also look on the election district's Web site and confirm that their ballots were scanned.
None of the recounted precincts would be ones where the near-impossible ballot ratios of 100 to 1 had been observed.
Internet voting was almost forced on our military people for their absentee ballots under the FVAP (Federal Voting Assistance Plan).
There were numerous reports of not only overseas citizens failing to receive their ballots in a timely fashion, but other voters within the 50 states, particularly students, sharing the same fate.
Turn-out up 11% sofar; between 400-500 incomplete ballot papers had to be returned.
People's Choice BFCA final ballots due Nat'l Board of Re-
The devices range from high-tech electronic vote counters that record choices on magnetic disks, to punch-card ballots, in which a stylus is used to punch a hole next to a candidate's name (see chart, page 15).