Ballot vs vote

saudara

Member
Spain
What's the difference between "ballot" and "vote"? I've looked at a few definitions and they seem pretty much the same to me. Thank you.
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    In normal use of the two words, I'd say that a "ballot" most commonly refers to the "roster" of choices presented to the voter in an election, usually in paper form. The voter marks his votes on the ballot.

    A vote is the choice made and expressed by a voter, whether verbally or in writing. For example, if we are trying to decide which restaurant to visit for dinner and I say, "I vote for Cafe Provencal", that's my vote in the matter. No ballot is involved. :)

    Of course, both words have multiple meanings and are used in different contexts. As always, it's important to provide context to ensure a more accurate response to your question.
     

    Sogardres

    Member
    Spanish-Spain
    Hello,
    I have the same question. My context is from a text book in which the difference is made between the members of some institutions (boule and law courts) being chosen by ballot and other (magistrates) being elected.
    Thank you.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    A ballot by definition is secret. Any other form of voting or election might not be. You can always use "vote" in place of "ballot", but not the other way round. "Election" applies to some types of voting, such as voting to appoint a person to a particular position. It does not tell you how the vote is carried out.

    Hello,
    I have the same question. My context is from a text book in which the difference is made between the members of some institutions (boule and law courts) being chosen by ballot and other (magistrates) being elected.
    Thank you.
    There is nothing in what you have written to draw any distinction between the two. The members of the boule and law courts are also elected, even though the term "chosen by ballot" is used. The magistrates, however, might not be chosen by ballot.
     

    Sogardres

    Member
    Spanish-Spain
    Thank you Uncle Jack. I was confused because on the book there's even a graphic stating the distinction between both tipes of elections using those same terms 'by ballet' and 'elected'. I suppose the difference resides in that the vote for the magistrates was not secret.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    In normal use of the two words, I'd say that a "ballot" most commonly refers to the "roster" of choices presented to the voter in an election, usually in paper form. The voter marks his votes on the ballot.

    A vote is the choice made and expressed by a voter, whether verbally or in writing. For example, if we are trying to decide which restaurant to visit for dinner and I say, "I vote for Cafe Provencal", that's my vote in the matter. No ballot is involved. :)

    Of course, both words have multiple meanings and are used in different contexts. As always, it's important to provide context to ensure a more accurate response to your question.
    A ballot by definition is secret. Any other form of voting or election might not be. You can always use "vote" in place of "ballot", but not the other way round. "Election" applies to some types of voting, such as voting to appoint a person to a particular position. It does not tell you how the vote is carried out.

    There is nothing in what you have written to draw any distinction between the two. The members of the boule and law courts are also elected, even though the term "chosen by ballot" is used. The magistrates, however, might not be chosen by ballot.
    Hi
    Can you please explain "vote" and "ballot" in the following sentence (to vote or decide by using ballots)?
    "Ballot: to vote or decide by using ballots."
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    A ballot by definition is secret.
    No it isn't. Secret ballots are, obviously. The secret ballot was a voting reform instituted in France in 1795, in the UK in 1872, and in the United States in around 1890.

    Hi
    Can you please explain "vote" and "ballot" in the following sentence (to vote or decide by using ballots)?
    "Ballot: to vote or decide by using ballots."
    In this sentence, "vote" is a verb, and "ballot" is a noun. A ballot is, in its historical form, a piece of paper on which a voter records their "vote", the candidate or position they support. Electronic substitutes may replace this with a virtual ballot, but the concept stays the same: the voter expresses their vote on a ballot, which records it.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    No it isn't. Secret ballots are, obviously. The secret ballot was a voting reform instituted in France in 1795, in the UK in 1872, and in the United States in around 1890.

    In this sentence, "vote" is a verb, and "ballot" is a noun. A ballot is, in its historical form, a piece of paper on which a voter records their "vote", the candidate or position they support. Electronic substitutes may replace this with a virtual ballot, but the concept stays the same: the voter expresses their vote on a ballot, which records it.
    Thanks a lot :)
    No it isn't. Secret ballots are, obviously.
    Sorry, but in a book says that "ballot=the method of secret voting", no?
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    Sorry, but in a book says that "ballot=the method of secret voting", no?
    I believe you when you way you've seen that in a book. It's wrong, though. Nowadays, nearly all ballots are secret; the word ballot alone doesn't tell us that.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I believe you when you way you've seen that in a book. It's wrong, though. Nowadays, nearly all ballots are secret; the word ballot alone doesn't tell us that.
    How would a non-secret ballot work, and what would be the purpose of holding a vote by ballot rather than a show of hands or counting off, if not secrecy?

    OED has the following definition (the first, which I have omitted, is for the ball or piece of paper itself, not the method of voting; there is also a third definition, where "ballot" refers to drawing lots):
    2. Such a system or method of voting, originally by means of balls placed in an urn or box, now typically by the placing of marked papers in a box; (also) an instance of this, a round of voting; the whole number of votes thus recorded.​

    I am well aware that "ballot" is often preceded by "secret", but I usually take this to mean "secret vote by ballot", and it does at least make clear to people who don't understand the difference between "vote" and "ballot" that the vote is secret.

    Ballots were only introduced for parliamentary elections in Britain in 1872, and one of the citations in the OED refers to this:
    1880 J. McCarthy Hist. our Own Times IV. lix. 309 No reform had seemed more unlikely than the adoption of the ballot.​
    What made it unlikely was that voting was now secret, but the writer saw no need to refer to the secrecy of the thing; the word "ballot" in itself was sufficient.
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    How would a non-secret ballot work, and what would be the purpose of holding a vote by ballot rather than a show of hands or counting off, if not secrecy?
    As the linked Wikipedia article says, in the United States "Before 1890, partisan newspapers printed filled-out ballots which party workers distributed on election day so voters could drop them directly into the boxes." When Abraham Lincoln voted in the 1860 Presidential election, he publicly held up a Republican ballot, creased it below his name at the top, and tore his name off before depositing it in the ballot box. It was considered improper in those days to vote for oneself, so he made sure he was seen refusing to do so.

    I see that "ballot" is associated with secret voting in British history. That isn't the case over here. :)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In those days when you dropped a ball into a box, in some places people could watch and see what ball you selected. It was a ballot, but it wasn't secret. The balls would be counted at the end to determine the winner but by then your secret might already be out.

    Added:
    Or maybe they saw where you put the ball.

    Voting with pebbles? Even allowing for artistic license, it seems the Greeks really did it this way. Voters deposited a pebble into one of two urns to mark their choice; after voting, the urns were emptied onto counting boards for tabulation. The principle of secret voting was established by at least the 5th century B.C., and Athenians may have used a contraption to obscure the urn into which a voter was placing his hand.
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    If the ballot has your name on it (or is otherwise identifiable) and the access to the ballot is not extremely limited, the information about who-voted-for-who is not a secret.
    In the days before secret ballots in the United States, secrecy was violated by using easily-identifiable pre-printed ballot papers which were selected in public. Before that, voters marched up to a desk and announced their choice -- again, in public.
     
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