Votomatic card

From Just Solve the File Format Problem
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(Created page with "{{FormatInfo |formattype=physical |subcat=Punched card |released=1965 }} '''Votomatic''' was a brand name of a punched card-based voting system produced by IBM starting i...")

Revision as of 16:04, 9 December 2012

File Format
Name Votomatic card
Released 1965

Votomatic was a brand name of a punched card-based voting system produced by IBM starting in 1965 based on an invention by Joseph P. Harris. Earlier ideas of using punched-card ballots went back to the 1890s, but this was the first system to achieve success. By the 1990s, some version of punched-card voting was in use by over one-third of U.S. voters. However, the problems with the 2000 U.S. presidential election, in which some of the notorious Florida recounts were of Votomatic-style ballots, led to punched cards going out of favor for ballots in favor of other systems including touchscreens and optically-read ballots.

A Votomatic card had a punch position for each candidate or option in each race or referendum up for vote. These were pre-perforated so that a press of a stylus at the appropriate position would cause the central chip of paper (known as a "chad") to fall out, leaving a hole which could be read by a tabulating machine.

The 2000 election and its lengthy recounts put the word "chad" in the public consciousness. This word goes back in data-processing to at least the 1930s, and is of uncertain origin, possibly related to "chaff". An urban legend that the term is a back-formation from a device named "Chadless" after its inventor's surname is false. The election recount in 2000 focused on indeterminate ballots in which the chads were not fully punched out in the proper way; "hanging chads" were still partially attached to the card, while "pregnant chads" were fully attached but dimpled from a partial attempt to punch them. These ballots were counted inconsistently on different runs through tabulating machines, and were the subject of intense debate about how they ought to be counted in a manual recount.


Personal tools