US 3620587 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  Inventor John E. Ahmann Morgan Hill, Calif.  Appl. No. 886,061  Filed Dec. 18, 1969  Patented Nov. 16, 1971  Asaignee Computer Electron Systems, Inc.
San Francisco, Calif.
 PORTABLE SELF-CONTAINED VOTING BOOTH 10 Claims, 9 Drawing Figs.
 0.5. CI 312/223, 312/244, 312/258, 52/64  Int. Cl A47b 77/08, A47b 43/00, 1504b 1/346  Field of Search 312/223. 257, 258, 239; 52/64-70  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,677,588 5/1954 Couse 312/258 Primary Examiner-Paul R. Gilliam An0mey Flehr, l-lohbach, Test, Albritton and Herbert ABSTRACT: A self-contained voting booth which may be collapsed and enclosed entirely within and upon a compact carrying case for ease of transportation and storage. Integral extensible and retractable leg structures permit positioning of the booth at any desired location when extended yet do not interfere when retracted with support of the booth on another supporting surface when use of the leg structures is not desirable. The case structure includes retractable sidewall privacy panels and a light source integral therewith, supporting means for permitting use of automatic voting devices therein when punchcard-type ballots are to be employed, and an integral shelf structure providing 'a writing surface when write-in type ballots are to be employed.
PORTABLE SELF-CONTAINED VOTING BOOTH BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to voting booths usable during elections. More particularly, this invention relates to the field of portable self-contained voting booths, the components of which may be retracted into and upon a compact carrying case for ease of storage and handling. Still more particularly, this invention relates to the field of multipurpose voting booths usable in elections irrespective of the particular type of ballot to be employed in a given election.
2. Description of the Prior Art So far as is known, a voting booth incorporating all the characteristics and improved features disclosed herein has not been known heretofore. While attempts have been made to provide portable voting booths, devices developed and known heretofore have been generally restricted to utilization with only one type of voting system, such as punchcard-type ballot voting systems or write-in type ballot voting systems. Such restricted capability makes known portable booths limited in utility and adaptability for their intended purpose.
So far as is known, entirely self-contained, portable and lightweight voting booth structures of the type disclosed herein, which are usable with punchcard-type ballots, write-in type ballots and other types of presently known ballot systems commonly employed in elections have not been known heretofore. More specifically, so far as is known, an entirely self-contained voting booth, usable with various type ballot systems and having retractable leg structures in conjunction therewith and fonning an integral part thereof which permit the booth to be self-supporting and yet which do not interfere with utilization of the booth on another supporting surface when desired, has been unknown heretofore.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to an improved voting booth construction, and particularly to a portable self-contained voting booth which is foldable entirely within and upon a compact carrying case so as to be easily handled during transportation to a polling place and for easy storage at predetermined locations, such as at the polling place, between elections. More particularly this invention relates to a portable voting booth in which all components thereof are integrally connected within or upon a compact carrying case, and to a booth which when erected is usable with a wide variety of known ballot systems, such as punch card systems, write-in systems and the like.
The voting booth of this invention includes integral leg structure extensible and retractable relative thereto so that the booth may be self-supporting when desired yet so that the booth may be supported upon another supporting surface when use of the leg structures is not required or permitted at a particular polling place.
The carrying case includes two hingedly interconnected sections which define a base and rear wall of the voting booth when erected, as well as two hingedly connected sidewall panels which are retractable into one of the case sections and which provide sidewall privacy panels when the case is opened and the booth is erected. Shelf structure is hingedly mounted within one of the case sections for pivotal movement between a retracted position and an extended position when a voting booth is to be used in a write-in ballot system or when a particular type of punchcard-type ballot device is used. Additionally, one of the case sections includes support means upon which known types of punchcard ballot vote registering devices are utilizable. As a result, the voting booth of this invention is employable by government entities having diverse types of voting systems presently in effect in their jurisdictions.
From the foregoing, it should be understood that objects of this invention include the provision of an improved portable and self-contained voting booth; the provision of a voting booth that may be entirely enclosed within and upon a compact case for ease of storage and handling; the provision of a self-contained voting booth which may be easily transported to a polling place and simply erected thereat; the provision of an improved voting booth which may be utilizable with various types of voting ballot systems, such as punchcard systems and write-in systems; and the provision of a voting booth having supporting leg structures integral with the carrying case thereof which are retractable relative to such case during transportation and storage. These and other objects of this invention will become apparent from a study of the following description in which reference is directed to the attached drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is an isometric view showing the voting booth of this invention collapsed within its carrying case.
FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of the closed carrying case of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the voting booth fully erected.
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken in the plane of line 4-4 of FIG. 3 showing details of the retractable leg structure of the subject voting booth.
FIG. 5 is an isometric view showing the voting booth erected for use with one type of punchcard-ballot vote registering device.
FIG. 6 is an isometric view showing the voting booth erected for use with a write-in type ballot system.
FIGS. 7 and 8 are isometric views showing the voting booth erected for use with other types of punchcard ballot-type voting systems.
FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken in the plane of line 9-9 of FIG. 3 which illustrates internal structural details of the canying case of the self-contained voting booth.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The voting booth construction of this invention has been designed so as to be completely self-contained in and on a compact carrying case, the sections of which form portions of the voting booth when the same is erected for use. In that regard, the voting booth of this invention is further designed to be usable with various types of voting systems presently used by diverse governmental entities, such as voting systems employing write-in type ballots as well as more modern systems utilizing punchcard-type ballots and the like intended to be counted automatically in computers programmed to read the ballot information punched in the ballots. To that end, the present invention includes means therein for readily and rapidly adapting the same to accommodate write-in type ballots as well as to accommodate automatic punch-type vote-registering devices which receive therein punch-type ballots.
While the particular type of ballot employed and the voting devices utilized in conjunction with such ballots form no part of this invention, by way of background, several prior art patents illustrate vote-registering devices utilizing punchcard and the like type ballots. Harris U.S. Pat. No. 3,240,409 dated Mar. 15, 1966 and Harris U.S. Pat. No. 3,201,038 dated Aug. 17, 1965, show punchcard-type voting devices which are capable of handling a substantial slate of candidates and election questions. Abissi U.S. Pat. No. 2,949,292 dated Aug. 16, 1960, and Lafrarnboise et al. U.S. Pat. No. 3,007,620 dated Nov. 7, 1961, show somewhat more compact vote-registering devices adapted to accommodate punchcard-type ballots therein.
The voting booth construction of this invention is adapted to utilize the voting devices of any of the patents noted, as well as to accommodate more conventional write-in type ballot systems in which a voter utilizes a marking pen, stamp or the like to register his choice on the face of a paper ballot. The present invention thus is incorporated into a versatile, selfcontained voting booth which is efficient, lightweight, compact, and attractive from both the standpoint of cost and appearance.
' formed from rigid plastic,
While the voting booth of this invention has been designed to be self-supporting on leg structures provided integrally therewith, it has the further advantage of being usable when the leg structures are retracted by positioning the same upon some other supporting surface. Thus, for example, the subject voting booth may be transported into hospitals and placed on the beds, bedside or other tables for use by patients who are confined to beds or wheel chairs. Thus, the utilization of absentee paper write-in ballots by patients and the like may be obviated to those areas where punchcard voting systems have been adopted. Utilization of the booth without employing its supporting legs extended in other environments also is contemplated.
Because the booth preferably is provided with an integral light source, the self-contained and self-sufficient nature thereof is further enhanced. Additionally, because of the compact nature of the booth when closed within its carrying case, a governmental entity can realize savings of many thousands of dollars annually in the cost of storage and transportation of the compact voting booth units.
Furthermore, the carrying case for the voting booth has sufficient space on the interior thereof so that vote registering devices for punchcard ballot systems may be retained in the booth during storage; also, additional election related equipment, such as precinct flags. and the like, may be stored therein when not in use. Additionally, because the carrying case for the booth is generally hollow, when punchcard-type ballot systems are used, the small portions punched from the ballots (chad) may be collected within the base of the booth for disposal following the election. Thus a neat polling place is insured and fouling of punchcard vote registering devices is obviated.
Also booths normally are used only once or twice a year by a given governmental entity, and the possibility of damage thereto is obviated during storage because of the sturdy nature of the carrying case in which thebooth components are enclosed when the booth is not in use. Additionally, maintenance and preparation of the booths for use is simple and may be rapidly effected.
With the foregoing preliminary considerations in mind, reference is directed to the drawings for an illustration of the details of construction of the subject invention.
Referring first to FIGS. 1 and 2, the voting booth is shown in the collapsed condition in which all components thereof are enclosed within or upon a sturdy compact carrying case generally designated 1. While the carrying case dimensions will be dictated largely by the erected size of a particular booth required by a particular governmental entity, and while this invention may be incorporated into voting booths of varying sizes dictated by particular needs, in the commercial embodiment thereof illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the booth is incorporated into a compact construction which is approximately 23 inches wide by 20 inches deep by 4 inches thick. The cubic displacement of such a booth when collapsed and enclosed within a carrying case is approximately 1 cubic foot which permits easy storing for large quantities of such booths in limited space. When fully erected, such a booth is approximately 60 inches high by 20. inches deep by 23 inches wide at the top and approximately 34 inches at the bottom when the legs are extended in the manner to be described.
The weight of a ready-to-use booth will vary depending upon the type of ballot system to be utilized by a particular entity, and such weight will generally lie within the range of only 8 to 20 pounds. As a result, the booth is easily handled by one person, including female precinct workers.
While the materials from which the components of the booth may be made may vary, the carrying case preferably is metal, or wood fiber. The internal components thereof to be described similarly may be formed fromrigid yet lightweight plastic or the like.
The carrying case 1 includes two cooperable sections 2 and 3 hingedly and integrally interconnected with each other in known fashion. A carrying handle 4 is pivotally secured to case section 2 in known fashion. Also, suitable latch means (not shown) are provided to permit the case sections to be positively secured together for transportation and storage. As will be described, when the carrying case is opened during erection of the booth, case section 2 is positioned to extend generally at right angles to case section 3 with section 2 forming a rear wall of the voting booth and case section 3 forming a base of the voting booth.
An important feature of this invention which imparts grest flexibility to utilization thereof is the inclusion therein of supporting means defined by a plurality of extensible and retractable leg structures so that the booth is imparted with self-supporting capability. As seen in FIG. 2, such leg structures when retracted are receivable within the confines of base case section 3 and are generally surrounded by such case section when retracted. Thus, the leg structures cannot interfere with handling of the case during transportation and storage and furthermore will not project beyond the confines of the bottom plane of the case 3 so that the case may be positioned upon a supporting surface if the legs are not required at a particular polling place, such as in a hospital as noted previously.
As seen in FIG. such leg structures, designated 6, 7, 8 and 9 respectively..Each leg structure is hingedly secured adjacent one end thereof to the case section 3 and is positioned within an elongated recess or well provided therein to preclude any portion of the leg structure from projecting beyond the confines of the case when the leg structures are retracted. Two parallel wells, designated 11 and 12 respectively, are provided and each is positioned to receive a pair of the leg structures therein.
All of the leg structures preferably are identical in construction and only one such leg structure will be described in detail, with similar reference numerals beingused in the drawings to identify similar components of the other leg structures. It will be seen from FIG. 2 that the leg structures are retractable in pairs and positionable in parallel relationship in the respective receiving wells 11 and 12.
Taking FIG. 2 in conjunction with FIGS. 3 and 4, it will be seen that each leg structure is pivotally mounted within its associated well by means of a generally U-shaped mounting bracket 13 which is bolted or otherwise suitably secured in its associated well. Each leg structure includes at least two relatively movable extensible and retractable sections 14 and 15. Upper or outer section 14 is of larger cross-sectional dimension than lower or inner section 15 so that section 15 may be telescopically received within the other section. While the respective leg sections may take any suitable configuration desired, in the embodiment shown, such sections are generally hollow and rectangular in cross-sectional configuration. as seen in FIG. 4. If desired, to conserve material and to minimize weight, the inner section 15 may be U-shaped in cross-sectional configuration as seen in FIG. 3. As noted from FIG. 4, inner section 15 is received in close outer section 14.
A pivot pin through the outer leg section 14 so that the leg structure is pivotally mounted relative to the carrying case. To maintain the leg structures in the extended position, a suitable brace mechanism is defined by an elongated brace 17 operatively connected at one end by a pivot pin 18 to the outer section 14 of the leg structure. At its other end, brace 17 includes an integral projecting pin 19 which is slidably receivable within a slot (not shown) formed in the sidewall of the structure is retractable. The purpose of pin 19 is to engage in a notch (not shown) formed in the aforementioned slot when the leg structure is pivoted to its extended position or to its retracted position to maintain the same in the position chosen. Such a notch and pin detent arrangement is known in the art relating to foldable leg devices and has not been illustrated in detail.
Latch means are provided in conjunction with leg sections 14 and 15 to maintain section 15 in the extended or retracted position relative to section 14. In the embodiment shown in 2, the present embodiment includes four sliding fit within 16 extends through mounting bracket 13 and provided which in the embodiment illustrated is well in which the leg FIG. 4, such latch means comprises a spring-loaded detent 21 positioned within the leg section 15 normally urged outwardly towards locking position by a coil spring 22 engaged with an enlarged shoulder 23 of the detent. A engageable portion 24 of the detent projects through aligned recesses 26 and 27 provided in the respective let sections. Recess 27 through outer leg section 14 is enlarged by countersinking or the like to permit full retraction of the detent into the inner section 15 when it is desired to move the leg sections relative to each other. As seen from FIG. 3, a similar recess 27 is provided adjacent the upper end of leg section 14 so that detent 24 may project therethrough to hold the leg sections against extension when the let sections are retracted.
When moved from the retracted position shown in FIG. 2 to the extended position shown in FIG. 3, each of the leg structures extends generally at approximately 100 relative to the bottom plane of case section 3. Thus the lower foot ends of the leg structures are widely spaced from each other and stability is insured when the voting booth is fully erected. While only two leg sections in each leg structure have been illustrated in the preferred embodiment, it should be understood that more than two sections may be utilized if required or desired to meet particular design needs.
As noted from FIG. 3, the present self-contained voting booth further includes means which define sidewalls when the booth is erected. Such means in the embodiment illustrated comprises a pair of cooperable panels 31 and 32 which are hingedly connected by elongated hinges 33 and 34 to the inside of case section 2 along opposite margins thereof. When the case is closed, such panels 31 and 32 are pivoted to overlie each other and to be received within case section 2. However, when the booth is erected, such panels may be pivoted outwardly to extend generally at right angles to case section 2 and to case section 3 in the manner seen in FIG. 3. Preferably detent means, generally designated 36 are provided between the respective sidewall panels 31 and 32 and the bottom case section 3. Such detent means includes a projecting pin 37 over which a socket member 33 mounted on the sidewall panel is positioned in snap lock relationship. At the interface of case section 2 a recess 39 is provided to accommodate the projecting pin when the case is folded.
Also included within case section 2 is retractable shelf structure generally designated 41 which is defined in the embodiment illustrated by two hingedly connected shelf sections 42 and 43 having hinges 44 interposed therebetween and interconnecting the same. A spring retaining clip 46 is secured to the inside of case section 2 and normally engages the shelf structure to retain the same in the retracted position shown in FIG. 1. A finger hole 47 is provided in shelf structure 42 to facilitate manual retraction and extension thereof. The spring clip is formed of a suitable metal which permits the same to be repeatedly bent out of the position shown in FIG. 3 during retraction and extension of the shelf structure. As perhaps best seen in FIG. 5, hinges 48 are employed to mount shelf section 43 to the interior of case section 2.
In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the voting booth is adapted to accommodate therein a punchcard-type ballot and a vote-registering device designated 51 is supported in the booth for the purpose. Such device generally is of the type shown in the aforementioned Abissi and Laframboise et al. patents and such device functions generally in the described manner shown in those patents. In the arrangement shown in FIG. 3, the voting device 51 is supported by a mounting panel 52 having a recess 53 formed therein in which the voting device 51 is secured. Thus, the mounting panel and voting device are insertable as an integral unit into the voting booth.
Panel 52 and its associated voting device may be retained as an integral part of the booth depending upon use intended for the booth. However, as noted the voting booth of this invention is imparted with flexibility which permits the same to accommodate readily other types of vote registering devices as will be described. In that connection, the base case section 3 includes means for supporting panel 52 therein, as well as other panels to be used in conjunction with other vote recording devices. As shown in FIG. 9, the supporting means by which panel 52 is mounted in the case and to which such panel may be secured by bolts, screws or the like if the same and the voting device carried thereby are to be retained as an integral part of a particular voting booth, comprises a circumferential ledge 54. Such ledge extends around the outer margin of the case section 3 and is secured therein in any suitable fashion, such as by adhesive or screws. Ledge 54 thus defines a boundary surface upon which panel 52 may rest and to which such panel may be secured as described.
Still referring to FIG. 3, desirably the voting booth of this invention includes a light source to illuminate the voting surface upon which a voter is casting his ballot. In the FIG. 3 embodiment, such light source is generally designated 61 and comprises a fluorescent fixture including a light shield 62 mounted within case section 2. Although not shown, a socket at one end of the light fixture preferably is formed through a side margin of case section 2 into which a male electrical plug is insertable to provide power to the light source.
FIGS. 5 to 7 illustrate the flexibility of the present invention which permit the same to be used in conjunction with various types of ballot systems. In the FIG. 5 embodiment, a voting device 51 of the type described previously is positioned in the base section 3 of the booth and is maintained therein by the aforementioned support panel 52. Should a particular governmental entity wish to utilize a write-in type ballot for a particular election, such as one having only a few candidates or is sues, shelf structure 41 may be moved to the extended position shown in FIG. 6. In that arrangement, the shelf may be positioned to overlie the voting device 51 or, if the voting device employed is too large to permit such a overlying relationship, the entire panel 52 may be easily removed and retained at a suitable place pending its reintroduction into the device following use of the booth for a write-in type election. Also, as seen in FIG. 7 the shelf structure may be utilized to support thereon another variety of a voting device, designated 64, which employs a punch stylus 66 in conjunction therewith. In the arrangement shown in FIG. 7, the voting device is merely resting upon the shelf structure and such a device does not require the recess 53 required by the device 51 noted previously.
Thus, the integral shelf structure provides the flexibility and adaptability which characterize the versatility of the present self-contained voting booth. When the shelf structure is extended, as will be noted from FIGS. 6 and 7, section 42 thereof rests upon and is supported by the interface edge of case section 3. As additional support for the shelf structure, although the hinge structure 44 chosen therefor normally provides sufficient support, additional supporting means may be provided if required, such as rubber bumpers (not shown) or the like positioned along the inner face of the case section 3 and pro jecting upwardly therefrom toward the shelf structure. Additionally, it will be noted that case section 3 is preferably dimensioned so that the aforementioned leg structure receiving wells 11 and 12 also provide inner support for the shelf structure when the latter is extended.
Finally, referring to FIG. 8, another embodiment of this invention is disclosed in which a modification of a voting device corresponding functionally generally to the device 51 mentioned previously is employed. Such device is designated 71 and comprises an essentially self-contained unit of the type shown in the aforementioned Harris patents. In that regard, such device is mounted upon a special supporting panel 72 which is positioned and secured on the supporting ledge 54 mentioned previously in the fashion described. This arrangement includes its own light source, designated 73, which is pivotal from the extended position shown in solid lines in FIG. 8 to the dotted line retracted position shown in that figure. An electrical cord 74 is provided in conjunction with the light source which may be engaged with an electrical outlet. When not in use the cord 74 preferably is coiled in the fashion shown in FIG. 8 and held in place behind the aforementioned spring clip 46 so that it does not interfere with folding of the voting booth into its compact case assembly.
From the foregoing it should be understood that this invention discloses and involves a completely self-contained portable lightweight voting booth construction which is easily transportable and storable, as well as one which is characterized by wide adaptability and facility to accommodate use therewith of various ballot systems.
Having thus made a full disclosure of this invention reference is directed to the appended claims for thescope of protection to be afforded thereto.
l. A foldable portable self-contained voting booth which may be carried and erected by one person and which is usable in elections employing either automatic voting devices which utilize punchcard-type ballots or write-in type paper ballots, said booth comprising a compact foldable carrying case within and upon which all components of said booth are arranged when said booth is folded and said case is closed for storage and transportation and when said case is opened and said booth is erected for use during an election; said case being defined by two interconnected sections which are positionable when said case is opened to extend generally at right angles to each other, one of said sections providing a base of said booth when said case is opened, the other of said sections providing a rear wall of said booth when said case is opened; wall panels movably connected to one of said sections and enclosed withinsaid case when said case is closed and said booth is folded and positionable when said case is opened and said booth is erected to extend generally at right angles to said base section and said rear wall section and operatively positioned therebetween, said wall panels defining sidewalls of said booth when said case is opened and said booth is erected; extensible leg structures movably and operatively mounted in wells provided in the underside of said base section and projecting therefrom when said booth is erected, said leg structures being retractable relative to said wells in said base section when said booth is folded, said leg structures when extended defining supporting means for said case when said booth is erected and being retractable so as not to interfere with positioning of said case on a supporting surface when desired; and movable retractable shelf structure movable and operatively positioned within said case and enclosable therein when said booth is folded and said case is closed, said shelf structure being selectively positionable to extend across said base section of said case to provide a supporting surface which is available for use at all times when required to support thereon an automatic voting device or a paper write-in ballot when said booth is erected.
2. The booth of claim 1 in which said wells provided in said base section are elongated and are provided in the outer surface thereof, said let structures being pivotally mounted at one end thereof generally within said wells and being receivable within said wells when retracted.
3. The booth of claim 2 in which each of said leg structures is extensible and comprises at least two sections movable relative to each other, and latch means in conjunction with said leg sections to positively retain said sections in the extended position.
4. The booth of claim 1 in which said shelf structure is hingedly mounted and retractable into one of said case sections when said case is closed and is positionable to overlie the other case section when said case is opened to provide a writing surface when write-in type ballots are to be used and a supporting surface for a vote registering device when punchcardtype ballots are to be used.
5. The booth of claim 4 in which said shelf structure comprises at least two hingedly interconnected sections foldsble relative to each other when said shelf structure is retracted into said case section.
6. The booth of claim 1 which further includes a light source in conjunction with one of said case sections to illuminate the other case section when said case is opened and said booth is erected.
7. The booth of claim 1 which further includes means in said base case section for supporting therein a mounting panel to which a vote-registering device is secured when punchcardtype ballots are to be used.
8. A lightweight, compact, portable, self-contained voting booth which may be carried by one person and which is usable in elections employing write-in type ballots and punchcardtype ballots usable with automatic voting devices, comprising a carrying case within and upon which all components of said booth are arranged; said booth being defined by two hingedly interconnected case sections, one of said case sections providing a base of said booth when said case is opened, the other of said case sections extending generally at right angles to said one section when said booth is opened and providing a rear wall of said booth; a pair of opposed panels hingedly mounted to opposite margins of said one case section, said panels being retractable into said one section when said case is closed and being positionable when said case is opened to extend generally at right angles to said base and said rear wall, said panels defining sidewalls of said booth when said case is opened; interengageable means between said base and said panels to maintain said panels in engagement with said base when said case is opened; support means within said other case section for supporting a mounting panel on which a voting device employing punchcard-type ballots is mounted; a retractable shelf structure hingedly mounted within said one case section, said shelf structure being positionable within said one case section when said case is closed and being positionable generally to overlie said support means and said other case section when said case is opened to provide a writing surface when a write-in type ballot is to be used and a supporting surface for supporting a vote-registering device when a punchcard-type ballot is to be used; a plurality of a leg structures hingedly connected with said other case section and being selectively extensible and retractable relative thereto to support said booth for use by voters, each of said leg structures comprising at least two sections extensible and retractable relative to each other, and latch means operatively positioned between the sections of each of said leg structures to keep such sections extended when desired; and elongated wells formed in said other case section and extending thereinto, said leg structures being retractable into and receivable within the confines of said wells so that said case may be supported on a surface without interference from said legs when said booth is to be used by voters in locations not permitting support by said leg structures.
9. The booth of claim 8 in which said leg sections of each of said leg structures are telescopic relative to each other.
10. The booth of claim 8 which further includes a light source in conjunction with one of said sections and enclosable within said case when the same is closed, said light source being positioned to illuminate said base section of said case when said case is opened.
i t a h i