Hanging chad

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(PD) Photo: US State Department
An election worker closely examines a Florida punch card ballot from the 2000 US Presidential election for signs of a hanging chad.

Hanging chad, alternately dimpled chad or pregnant chad, is a term that was widely used following the 2000 United States Presidential election.[1][2][3]

Controversy

In the United States electoral system the design of ballots, and their collation, is not the responsibility of a Federal agency. Each state appoints its own chief returning officer. Each county designs its own ballots.

The results in Florida were very close. Several counties used voting machines that used punch cards. The punch card system did not provide an independently verifiable audit trail. Bipartisan committees were going to examine every punch card ballot.

The term "chad" is used for the piece of paper left when a hole is punched out of a card or piece of paper. The punch card ballots were to be examined for the presences of partially punch out chads.

Reverse engineering the problem

Douglas W. Jones, a professor of Computer Science at the University of Iowa, and the curator of a museum on the history of the punch card, reported having one of the controversial votomatic machines delivered to him, and reverse-engineering the problem with the punch card ballots in the 2000 elections.[2][3]

Jones reported that the problem was due to improperly designed ballots that placed candidate Al Gore's name above hidden support bars, that did not allow enough clearance for chads punched out by voters who selected him.[2][3] Proper design of ballots using these machines will never place a candidate's name above one of these support bars.

The "hanging chad" problem, with the same votomatic machines, had marred the results of the 1988 Florida Senate race between Buddy Mackay and Connie Mack.[4]

References

  1. Lauren Weinstein. Sanity in the Election Process, Risks digest, 2000-11-11. Retrieved on 2008-06-26.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Douglas W. Jones. Pregnant chad revisited, Risks digest, 2001-10-19. Retrieved on 2008-06-26.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Douglas W. Jones. Chad -- From waste product to headline, University of Iowa, 2002. Retrieved on 2008-06-26. mirror
  4. Peter G. Neumann. Pregnant chad revisited, Risks digest, 2001-10-22. Retrieved on 2008-06-26.