ballot

KYC

Senior Member
Mandarin
Hi ,everyone:
I am learning the word" ballot".
I have understood most of the meanings.But I don't understnd one of the definitions.
My source says "If you ballot a group of people, you find out what they think about a subject by organizing a secret vote."
Does it mean to get some information by a secrect vote?
I still can't understand after reading it.Could you rephrase it or clarify for me?
Thanks a lot!
 
  • gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    The idea is to gather information on the opinions of a group of people, without individually identifying them. The way they vote does not identify individual voters, but does demonstrate their opinions.
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Hi KYC

    Another way of saying "ballot a group of people" is simply "take a vote". According to WR dictionary, "secret ballot" is a particular type of ballot, so that the concept of a ballot need not necessarily involve an element of secrecy. British trade union organisations, for example, sometimes ballot their members on a show of hands at a meeting - in that case, the union leadership is balloting its members, but the ballot is not secret, since everyone can see how everyone else votes.

    I think there is a danger of confusing the gathering of information from people - what I would call canvassing opinion - and organising a vote on a particular issue (often a "yes/no" vote, which is balloting.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The usage here appears incorrect, at least according to the WRD.which shows it only as an intransitive verb. Merriam-Webster lists it only as a noun although M-W suggests that secrecy is implied.

    In other words, people ballot, i.e. vote - they cannot be "balloted."

    For another thread on mangling nouns into verbs, see Architect as a verb
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I'm with gasman on this one - whether or not the powers that be would frown upon it, it's quite common to read that "members were balloted on strike action". A quick Google search indicates this usage by the BBC as well as the Telegraph...
     

    mylam

    Senior Member
    United States English
    Might this be another of those AE/BE usage differences? I've never heard of people being "balloted".
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    A ballot does not have to be secret, although it generally is.

    The primary definition in my dictionary is:-
    A process of voting, in writing and usually secret. Other sources only give writing as as an opton (writing is the normal option in current usage)

    But the original question was using ballot as a verb. Somewhere in my dim distant past I have used this in the sense of let's ask the group.

    I believe that the original post is using ballot as a verb. In a meeting the work ballot can be used as well as vote for a show of hands ballot/vote. This is not very secret, unless only the counter is not blind. Vote is much more common for this.

    GF..
     
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    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    It most certainly is a verb, as reported in the Oxford, Bloomsbury, Collins dictionaries that we have in our bookcases.
     

    losilmer

    Senior Member
    "If you ballot a group of people, you find out what they think about a subject by organizing a secret vote."
    One of the definitions of to ballot is to take a ballot of a body of voters. So, it is equivalent to make a poll, an inquest.

    In this way, the sentence would mean "If you poll or question a group of people, you can find out ... "
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    from the Free Dictionary:-

    bal·lot (b
    l
    t)n.1. A sheet of paper or a card used to cast or register a vote, especially a secret one.
    2. The act, process, or method of voting, especially in secret.
    3. A list of candidates running for office; a ticket.
    4. The total of all votes cast in an election.
    5. The right to vote; franchise.
    6. A small ball once used to register a secret vote.

    intr.v. bal·lot·ed, bal·lot·ing, bal·lots 1. To cast a ballot; vote.
    2. To draw lots.

    ve.
     

    dragongirl

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I agree with gasman and el escoces I have definately heard the term "balloted on strike action" before...
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I have never heard the word used this way before today (e.g., "ballot a group of people"), although I certainly have heard of polling groups of people to find out what they think.

    I think this is another of those BE/AE differences, with AE being (as is usual) the more conservative of the two, and BE being the one that seems to have adopted an odd new usage.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This does indeed seem to be an AmE/BrE difference.

    A Google search for "ballot its members" gets 523 actual citations when I click through to the end. (These are my results at this moment. If you click on the link, Google will do a new search, possibly with different results.)

    Of the citations, it appears that the majority are .uk sites or sites that originate in the UK. By this I mean that all the sites I clicked on that were not designated .uk, led back to a UK origin. I found none that originated in the US; I allow for the possibility that among those I didn't try, some originate in the US.

    Edit: As I understand it, the usage being discussed is whether 'ballot' is used with an object, as a transitive verb, as in "ballot members". The definition gasman gives describes 'ballot' as an intransitive verb, as does my American Heritage Dictionary.
     
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    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    The only "paper" dictionary I currently have available to me is a little Spanish-English one, and even it, although not providing a single Spanish word as an equivalent to "ballot", explains (in Spanish) that the English word means "to solicit opinion through voting".

    Dictionary.com appears to endorse definitions as both transitive and intransitive verbs.
     

    KYC

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thanks for all of your answers.
    So there are some meanings of the phrase.
    1 take a vote.
    2 solicit opinion through voting.
    or---?
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Your 1 and 2 sound the same, KYC.

    Gasman's post 13 gives a pretty comprehensive list of the different definitions of ballot, as a noun and as an intransitive verb, to which it appears you need to add use as a transitive verb.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Your 1 and 2 sound the same, KYC.

    Gasman's post 13 gives a pretty comprehensive list of the different definitions of ballot, as a noun and as an intransitive verb, to which it appears you need to add use as a transitive verb.
    I agree with this, with the addition that the transitive use seems to be a BrE usage, not found in AmE, or, perhaps, in Canadian English.
     
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