From Paper to Machine

The earliest elections were conducted by voice vote or with paper ballots put into ballot boxes. These paper ballots, called party tickets, listed names from just one party. As the United States grew and the electorate expanded in the decades following the Civil War, improvements appeared in the form of the Australian or blanket ballot (which listed the names of all candidates), and ballot boxes with new security features.

Photo of Thomas Nast Cartoon
Enlarge photo of Thomas Nast Cartoon
Thomas Nast cartoon, Harper's,
November 20, 1869.
As early as 1869, observers of American politics declared that the distant ideal of universal suffrage defined democracy itself.
Photo of Protestors outside the U.S. Supreme Court
Enlarge photo of Protestors outside the U.S. Supreme Court
Bush v. Gore
The Supreme Court ruled that the different criteria used to re-count votes by hand in Florida's counties violated the "equal protection" clause
of the Constitution.
From Mechanical to Electronic

In the early 1960s new computer-read ballot systems entered the market for voting equipment and eventually triumphed over mechanical machines.

Voters use either a stylus or punch to perforate a computer punch card ballot or mark a standardized form using a no. 2 pencil.
Introduced in the 1990s, computer touch screen and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems use familiar graphic layouts and capture votes digitally.