US 3536257 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
I United States Patent  Inventor In G-Laws 3,240,409 3/1966 Harris n 235/50X Tulsa, Oklahoma 3,280,482 10/ 1966 Johnson... 225/93X } -Appl. No. 765,293 3,424,376 1/1969 Evans 235/50 523 2 232 Primary Examiner-Richard B. Wilkinson Assistant Examiner-Stanley A. Wal  gt 'r gr ggfgz Corponflon Attorney-Mason,Kolehmainen,Rathburn and Wyss a corporation of Delaware ABSTRACT: Apparatus for recording selections of a voter made by punching out selected, prescored areas on a machine  VOTE RECORDER processable record card with a stylus, comprising support 7 claims, 10 Drawing 18$ means underlying the card for supporting the same while the voter's selections are being made. The support means com- 235/50 prises a unitary mat formed of a thin sheet of resilient material 7 llprovided a plurality of elongaed slotted openings posi-  Field Search 235/50; tioned to lie in matched confronting relation beneath the 225/93; 345/l04 143; 83/168 prescored areas of the ballot. The mat includes downwardly depending, integrally formed, longitudinal, stiffening ribs  References Cited spaced on opposite sides of each row of slots in the mat and UNITED STATES PATENTS the ribs are supported in recesses formed in a supporting 3,007,620 Ill 1961 Laframboise et al. 225/93 framework of the vote recorder.
Patented Oct. 27, 1970 Sheet 4 wm M E 6% M V4 4 Q1! /6 4M1. mm w 7 \m llllllll I! w 1 I Ill 1 ll ....l .mNH. l umw 4 VOTE RECORDER The present invention relates to improvements in data registering devices or vote recorders and, more particularly, to
ing that the voting selections, as punched in the card, will ac-- curately reflect the voters wishes when the ballots are counted. It is necessary to insure that the chips or card portions punched out of the selected, prescored areas on the ballot are positively separated from the ballot and retained in the vote recorder so that errors will not be made when processing the ballots because of a chip being only partially removed and remaining attached to the ballot during counting.
In prior vote recording devices, such as the type shown in US. Pat. No. 3,240,409 to J. P. Harris, a plurality of elongated strips of resilient material having T-shaped cross sections and arranged in side-by-side relation, have been used to underlie and support machine processable ballots during the voting selection process, and the stylus is extended between the edges of adjacent strips when used to punch out the voters choices. Because a number of strips are needed for each vote recorder and because the strips are normally glued or ccmcntcd in place, the process of installation of the strips is complex, costly and time consuming. in some instances, after the stylus is inserted through a selected prescored area on the card and is then withdrawn, the chip or card portion within the selected prescored area was merely folded downwardly on the card along an edge but still remained attached to the ballot. This often resulted in an inaccurate counting and tabulation of the vote when the cards were later processed or counted in a vote tabulating machine.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved data registering device or vote recorder of the character described employing new and improved means for insuring that the chips or ballot portions punched from selected prescored areas on a ballot are completely removed and permanently detached from'the ballot so that an accurate vote tabulation can be obtained.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved vote recorder of the character described employing novel means for supporting the ballot during the selection or voting process, said means being operable to insure that the chips or ballot portions that are punched from the ballot are wiped off the stylus during retraction thereof and retained in the recorder.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved supporting and chip retaining, resilient ballot supporting mat which is easily installed and/or replaced in a vote recorder and which has a long and useful life without requiring maintenance or replacement after prolonged periods of heavy usage.
Another object of the present invention is the provision of a new and improved resilient, ballot supporting chip retainer for vote recorders of the character described, having especially designed slots therein for receiving the stylus and insuring that the punched-out chips or ballot portions are not permitted to adhere to the card after the punching has been completed and the stylus withdrawn.
The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the present invention are accomplished in an illustrative embodiment of the invention comprising a vote recorder apparatus for supporting a ballot card during the voting process as selec' tions are made by a voter by punching out selected prescored areas on a machine processable ballot with a stylus. The apparatus includes support means underlying the card for supporting the same while the voting selection is ,made by downward movement of the stylus through the card. The support means comprises a unitary chip retaining mat formed of thin, resilient sheet material and is provided with a plurality of elongated slotted openings arranged in rows therein to match in underlying, confronting relation, prescored areas on a machine processable ballot. Each slot or opening is defined by a pair of elongated sides which are closely spaced apart ad jacent the upper surface of the mat by a distance less than the width of the stylus and slope downwardly and outwardly in opposite directions therefrom toward the lower surfaceof the mat. Upon downward movement of the stylus through the slots in themat, the opposite side surfaces defining the slot are deflected downwardly and outwardly and the closely spaced upper edges cling tightly against the stylus. On upward withdrawal of the stylus after the punching operation has been completed, the edges of the slot are drawn inwardly, tightly against the stylus, and positively remove the punched-out chip or ballot portion from the stylus and ballot and retain the chip below the mat. The chip retaining mat thus positively insures that the ballot chip does not remain attached to the ballot after the punching is completed and the stylus is withdrawn.
For a better understanding of the present invention reference should be had to the following detailed description and claims, taken in conjunction with the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a top elevational view of a new and improved data registering device or vote recorder constructed in accordance with the features of thepresent invention;
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal, vertical, sectional view taken substantially along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1',
FIG. 3 is a transverse. vertical, sectional view taken substantially along lines 3-3 of FIG. 2-,
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, exploded perspective view taken through the vote recording device of FIG. 1, with a ballot inserted therein illustrating the stylus in a raised, aligned position ready for punching the ballot to make a selection;
FIGS. 5 through 9 are enlarged, fragmentary, sectional views similar to FIG. 3, showing sequentially the functional cooperation between the stylus and the chip retainer of the vote recorder as a selection is made by a voter in punching out a selected prescored area on a ballot with the stylus and illustrating removal of the chip upon upward withdrawal of the stylus after a selection has been made; and
FIG. 10 is a top plan view ofa new and improved ballot supporting chip retaining mat constructed in accordance with the features of the present invention.
Referring now, more particularly, to the drawings, therein is illustrated a data registering device or vote recorder generally referred to by the reference numeral 10 and constructed in accordance with the features of the present invention.
The vote recorder 10 includes a ballot holding framework generally referred to by the numeral 12 and a ballot punching stylus 14 connected to the recorder by a flexible chain 16 to allow the voter to manipulate the stylus as desired when making selections. The ballot holding framework 12 is adapted to receive a machine processable ballot 18 inserted therein and the voter indicates his selections by punching out selected, prescored areas 18a (FIG. 4) aligned in parallel rows on the ballot card. A relatively large number of prescored areas 18 a are provided on the card so that a large general election, wherein many candidates, offices, and issues are to be voted on, can be accommodated. The prescored areas 18a are generally rectangular in shape, as shown in FIG. 4, and are formed in a stamping operation in which the perimeter of the area is outlined and the surface indented to provide for a clean, punch out operation when the stylus is used.
As a selection or choice is made by the voter the lower portion of the stylus 14 is forced through the ballot causing a small rectangular chip or card portion to be removed from the ballot 18 leaving a clean, rectangular slot or opening 19 which is counted on a tabulating machine when the ballots are processed after the election. The rectangular chips or punched out portions of the ballot are referred to herein by reference numeral 20 and, once the chips are punched out of the ballot they are permanently separated from the remaining portion of the ballot and are retained in the interior of the vote recorder.
Preferably, the ballot holder 12 is formed of molded plastic material and includes an upper, generally rectangular framework 22 and a separate, lower base member or frame 24 (FIGS. 2 and 3). The rectangular shaped upper framework 22 includes a pair of longitudinal, opposite side members 26 of angular cross section (FIG. 3), a lower, transverse cross member or end member 28, an intermediate, transverse cross member 30 and an upper transverse cross member 32. In order to direct the voters attention to the proper row of prescored area 180 on the ballot card 18 for making his selection, the vote recorder includes a plurality of voting information leaves 34 and a sufficient number of leaves 34 are provided for each election, depending upon the number of candidates, issues, offices, etc., to be voted on by the elector. The leaves 34 are pivotally mounted on the upper framework 22 of the ballot holder 12 and are read in succession by the voter during the voting procedure. After the issues depicted on one leaf have been voted, the next leaf is turned over and voted and the process is continued until the voter has completed all of his selections. Each voting information leaf includes an outer, protective envelope or jacket formed of tough, clear, flexible, plastic material and a voting information sheet 38 is contained in the jacket for directing the voters attention to the relevant area 18a on the ballot. As more fully described in commonly assigned copending US. Pat. application Ser. No. 747,607 filed July 25, 1968 the plastic envelopes 36 are preferably heat sealed around three outside edges as at A, B, and C, and are open along a fourth, inside edge D so that an appropriate voting information sheet can be inserted in the jacket. After the appropriate voting information sheet has been inserted into a plastic envelope, an elongated hinge pin 40 is threaded into coaxially aligned, tubular socket portions 36a formed on alternate, opposite side members of the envelope along the open edge D. Insertion of the hinge pin closes the envelope and the completed voting information leaf 34 is then pivotally mounted on the upper framework 22 of the ballot holder 12 on a vote recorder. The intermediate cross member 30 of the ballot holder is formed with a recess 30a (FIG. 2) on the underside, and the pointed ends of the hinge pins 40 projectforwardly into and are accommodated within the recess. The lower end cross member 28 of the ballot holder 12 is formed with a similar recess 28a on the underside for receiving the eyelet ends of the pins 40 and the opposite end portions of the pins are supported in spaced, keyhole shaped openings (FIG. 3) formed between downwardly extending projections 28!) and 30b, respectively, formed within the recesses 28a and 30a. The eyelets of the pins 40 are snapped over separate, downwardly extending, pin projections 280 formed in the recess 28a, thus preventing the pins from rotating once the leaves 34 are assembled into place and flipped over or turned as the voting proceeds.
In order that a ballot 18 can be easily inserted into the ballot holder 12 into position for voting, the upwardly facing'edge 30c of the intermediate cross member 30 and the opposite, downwardly facing, lower edge 32a of the upper cross member 32 are spaced apart as best shown in FIG. 2, thereby defining a slot or opening 42 for receiving the lower end portion of the ballot 18 as it is inserted downwardly into the vote recorder 10 from the upper end of the ballot holder 12 (FIG. 1). For this purpose, the opposing edge surfaces 30c and 32a of the respective cross members 30 and 32 are rounded, and the underside of the cross member 30 is curved to guide the ballot into proper place as it is inserted into the vote recorder.
The upwardly facingsurface 32b of the upper an end cross member 32 is sloped, as shown in FIG. 2, to aid in guidingthe insertion of the ballot 18 into the ballot holder 12, and to prevent lateral movement of the ballot during insertion," the framework 12 includes a pair of upstanding side guide bosses or projections 44 having vertical inside faces adapted to guide the longitudinal side edges of the ballot into the ballot opening 42. The upper surface 32b of the main portion of the upper end cross member 32 is sloped, as shown, at an angle similar to the curved underside of the intermediate cross member 30 and serves to guide the card or ballot 18 through the opening 42 into a fully inserted voting position wherein the voter makes selections by punching out the card with the stylus 14.
In order to lock and hold the ballot 18 in a fully inserted voting position in the ballot holder 12, a pair of integrally formed, upstanding locating projections 320 are integrally formed to project upwardly from the sloped surface 32b of the upper end cross member 32, and the locating pins are rounded at their upper ends for easy engagement with appropriately located holes or openings 18b formed adjacent the upper edge of the ballot card. The openings 18b are spaced eccentrically of the longitudinal center line of the ballot card 18 so that the ballot may be locked into place with the pins 32c in the openings only when the printed matter on the ballot is facing upwardly, thereby insuring that proper areas are punched to accurately reflect the voters selections. The voting area of ballot cards presently being used and suitable for machine processing is approximately 3 /4 inches in width and 7% inches long, and I2 rows of prescored areas 18a are provided with 19 or 20 prescored areas or punch locations in each row. The punch locations are arranged in a nonsymmetrical matrix on the ballot with areas 18a in one row being staggered from those in an adjacent row.
Accordingly, the ballots can accommodate 235 bits of information or selections and this number is usually more than enough for most elections. Normally, not more than four or five rows of punch out areas are required on the ballot, and in the illustrated embodiment, which is typical, only five rows on the left-hand side of the ballot are being used. Because all of the available rows on a ballot are not normally utilized, and generally in each row that is used not all of the possible spaces in the row are needed, and in order that the unused spaces in a row can be covered so as to not confuse the voter, a masking card 46 is provided having a plurality of circular openings 46a, each being located appropriately over a prescored punch out area 18a which is to be available to the voter in making his selection. Because the number of rows being used varies from election to election, correspondingly the number and location of the openings 46a in the mask 46 varies for each election. The mask 46 is preferably constructed of relatively stiff cardboard or card stock and is perforated appropriately for the election. The mask is placed in position in the vote recorder beneath the ballot information leaves 34 and, as best shown in FIG. 3, opposite longitudinal edges of the mask 46 are sandwiched between inwardly directed flange portions 26a formed on the side members 26 of the upper ballot framework 22 and the upper edges of longitudinal side members 25 of the base frame 24. Opposite ends of the mask are seated in slots 28d and 30d, respectively, in the upper ballot holding framework cross members 28 and 30.
Beneath the mask 46 is provided a relatively thick, stylus guiding die member 48 formed of plastic and having a plurality of stylus guiding openings 48a therein which are aligned in parallel rows to match the punch out areas 18a in the ballot inserted into the vote recorder. The openings 48a in the die member 48 are slightly larger in diameter than the intermediate stem portion 14a of the stylus and guide the stylus vertically downward through the ballot as shown in FIGS. 5 through 9. The upper end portion of the stylus openings 480 are enlarged and frustoconically shaped to aid in initially guiding or centering of the reduced diameter tip end portion 14b V of the stylus above the opening.
with the openings 46a in the mask, indicating that a ballot 18 has not been inserted into place ready for the voting operation. Upon insertion of a ballot into the ballot holder 12 through the main ballot receiving slot or opening 42 at the upper end of the framework, the lower end of the ballot engages a lug 48b on the underside of the die member adjacent the lower end and moves the die member downwardly against the force of the spring 49 into a registering position wherein the openings 48a are aligned directly beneath the openings 46a in the mask. With a ballot thus inserted in the ballot holder 12 and the openings 18b at the upper end of the ballot seated on the alignment pins or projections 32c, the ballot is positively retained in the proper position for voting with the prescored punch out areas 18a in registration beneath the aligned pairs of openings 46a and 48a in the .mask and die member. The ballot itself holds the die member 48 in the voting position (FIG. 2) in registration with mask 46 against the force of the spring 49 and, after voting is completed and the ballot is withdrawn from the ballot holder, the spring 49 again moves the die member out of registration with the mask 46.
In accordance with the present invention, the ballot 18 is supported in a voting positionwithin the ballot holder 12 on a chip retaining mat 50 which is formed from a sheet of resilient material. As shown in FIG. '10, the chipretaining mat has a planar upper portion 50a and is formed of a plastic material, such as polyethylene or neoprene, having a durometer hardness preferably in the range of 65 to 80. The chip retaining mat is of rectangular shape and is substantially equal in size to the voting portion of the ballot 18, which it underlies. The lower base framework 24 of the ballot holder 12 provides support for the chip retaining mat 50 and for this purpose includes a plurality of longitudinally extending, spaced apart ribs 52 parallel to the side members 25 and integrally joined at op osite ends with transverse stiffening ribs 54 (FIG. 2). Preferably, the base framework 24 is formed of molded plastic material and includes an upper end cross member 56 and a lower end cross member 58 integrally joined with the lower end stiffening rib 54 by a bottom wall member 60. The members 54, 58, and 60 form a hollow area 62 for housing the spring 49 which biases the lower end of the die member. 48 toward the opposite end of the die supporting frame. Intermediate the end cross members 54, the ribs 52 are stiffened by transverse ribs 64, best shown in FIG. 2, with the result that the bottom base framework 24 of the ballot holder provides a strong, gridlike structure for supporting the resilient chip retaining mat 50 thereon.
The support ribs 52 are spaced apart and lie intermediate the rows of die openings 48a in the die member 48, so that open areas 66 are provided between the ribs to accommodate the chips punched out of the ballot 18. Each rlb 52 is formed with a longitudinally extending recess 52a adjacent the upper edge thereof for receiving a downwardly depending stiffening flange 50b integrally formed on the underside of the chip retaining mat 50. It will thus be seen that the mat is firmly supported by the stiffening ribs 52 and is locked against lateral movement therein by the engagement of the downwardly'depending flanges 50b which are preferably adhesively secured within the recesses 52a in the supporting framework ribs.
The spaced, parallel flanges 50b on the underside of the chip retaining mat 50 are preferably integrally formed with the body of the mat, and the flanges are spaced to liemidway between the adjacent rows of die openings 48a, in'order' that the stylus 14 can pass freely through the ballot into the areas 66 between the support ribs 52 without interference.
In accordance with the present invention, the body 50a of the chip retaining mat is constructed to be approximately one sixteenth inch thick, and the lateral spacing between the stiffening flanges 50b was approximately one-fourth inch. Each row or area on the chip retaining mat between each pair of flanges 50b is formed with a plurality of elongated slits or openings 50, each opening positioned to underlie a prescored area 18a on a ballot when it is placed in the vote recorder and locked in voting position therein.
As best shown in FIGS. 4 through 10, the slits 50: extend longitudinally of the chip retaining mat and lie in parallel rows spaced midway between each pair of adjacent flanges 50b on the underside of the chip mat. Each slit or opening 50c is disposed to lie at approximately a right angle with the longitudinal or wider dimension of the associated prescored rectangular area 18a on the ballot 18, and each slit 50c includes longitudinal side surfaces 68 (FIGS. 4-9) which slope normally downwardly and outwardly from the top surface of the chip mat to a maximum spacing at the bottom surface of the mat intermediate the stiffening flanges 50b As best shown in FIG. 4, opposite ends of the slits 500 are formed by parallel triangularly shaped end surfaces 70. 6
Referring to FIGS. 5 through 9, when the voter decides on a candidate, office, or issue, the stylus 14 is grasped and centered above the appropriate opening 460 in the mask 46 and the concentrically aligned opening 48a in the die 48. The stylusis then moved downwardly from the position of FIG. 5 to that of FIG. 6 wherein the-lower tip portion 14b begins to engage a chip 20 defined within a selected prescored area 180 on the ballot 18. Further downward movement of the stylus causes the chip 20 to be punched downwardly and removed cleanly from the ballot in the manner shown in FIG. 7. The chip is carried along on the tip of the stylus into the area 66 between an adjacent pair of supporting ribs 52, and normally falls from the stylus tip into the bottom of the ballot holder.
The chip mat 50 is resilient and absorbs the force of the stylus, permitting the chip 20 to be readily severed from the remaining portion of the ballot 18 and carried downwardly with the stylus through the slit or opening 50c. During this process the opposite longitudinal side surfaces 68 of the selected slit or opening 500 are deflected downwardly by the stylus and the upper corners cling tightly against the stylus, as shown in FIG. 7. Upon upward withdrawal of the stylus, as illustrated in FIG. 8, if the chip 20 is still retained on the tip portion of the stylus, the adjacent edge surfaces 68 of the slit or opening 50c cling closely to the stylus and effectively wipe the chip from the stylus as the stylus is withdrawn upwardly. When this occurs, the chip 20 falls freely downwardly in the space 66 into the bottom of the ballot holder 12.
Because the surfaces 68, which define the opposite longitudinal sides of each slit or opening 500 the chip mat are sloped downwardly and outwardly, as shown, there is virtually no possibility that a chip can remain on the stylus after the stylus is withdrawn upwardly of the chip mat. Moreover, there is no possibility that a chip 20 will be retained within a slit or opening 50c after the stylus is withdrawn therefrom because of the downwardly and outwardly sloping wall surfaces 68.
In prior stylus operated voting devices, often a number of punched out chips collected and lodged in slots or openings in a ballot supporting structure and, accordingly, insertion of ballots into the devices was sometimes difficult. Tests conducted on devices constructed inaccordance with the invention revealed that after a large number of punches with a stylus have been completed, no problems have arisen because of a failure to separate or punch out the chips 20 from the ballot and few, if any, chips 20 were retained in an opening or slit 50c in the chip mat after the perforations were completed on the ballot and the stylus withdrawn. The present invention simplifies the construction and programming of a vote recorder for an election in that only a single unitary chip retaining mat is required, rather than separate chip retaining devices for each prescored area 18a or row of prescored areas on the ballot. Moreover, it is virtually impossible for a chip 20 to be carried upwardly with the stylus 14 after it has been punched out of and separated from the remaining portion of a ballot, thus making operation of the vote recorder of the invention extremely reliable andexcellently suited for use in elections.
While there has been illustrated and described one embodiment of the present invention, it will be appreciated that numerous changes and modifications will occur to those skilled in the art, and it is intended in the appended claims to cover all those changes and modifications which fall within the true spirit and scope of the present invention.
1. Apparatus for recording selections made by punching out selected, prescored areas on a card with a stylus comprising support means underlying said card for supporting the same while selections are punched out downwardly of said card with said stylus, said support rneans'comprising a mat formed of a thin unitary sheet of resilient material and provided with a plurality of elongated, slotted openings therein positioned in matched confronting relation with the prescored areas on said card, each of said openings being defined by opposite edge surfaces closely spaced apart adjacent the upper surface of said mat by a distance less than thewidth of said stylus and sloping downwardly and outwardly in opposite directions toward the lower surface of said mat whereby downward movement of said stylus through a prescored area of said card deflects said closely spaced edge surfaces downwardly and outwardly, and upward retraction of said stylus from an opening in said mat causes said edge surfaces to be drawn tightly against said stylus causing the punched out portion of the card to be retained below said mat, said elongated slotted openings in said mat aligned in laterally spaced rows in spaced apart, end-toend relation, said mat including integrally formed, downwardly extending, longitudinal stiffening ribs spaced between said rows.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said support means includes a plurality of parallel, spaced apart, longitudinal support members underlying said mat, each support member being formed of rigid material and including an elongated upwardly facing recess therein receiving a stiffening rib of said mat.
3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said support members are U-shaped transverse cross section and said ribs of said mat are adhesively secured in the recesses of said support members.
4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said mat is formed of extruded plastic material having a durometer hardness in the range of 65 to 80.
5. The chip retaining mat of claim 1 wherein said slotted openings comprise elongated slits arranged in spaced apart, end-to-end relation along laterally spaced, parallel rows and wherein said integrally formed, stiffening ribs are in parallel alignment spaced between said rows of slits.
6. The chip retaining mat of claim 5 wherein said deflectable opposite edge surfaces of each slit are spaced apart along said upper surface of said mat by a distance substantially less than the width of said stylus and slope downwardly and oppositely outward toward the lower surface of said mat.
7. The chip retaining mat of claim 6 wherein each slit is terminated at opposite ends by substantially triangular shaped end surfaces extending generally normal to the upper surface of said mat.