punch a chad

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piercedsnake

Member
Korean
Hi, I'd like to ask the meaning of 'punch a chad' in this context.

The following passage is from the transcript of 'Boston Legal' written by David E. Kelly.


You acquire fast cars and young wives to try and stay young yourself in the hope of confusing youth with relevance. Well, here's a flash for you. We're all desperate to be relevant. You're 76 years old! Want to feel you still mean something? Move to Florida, punch a chad, screw up an election. Don't go looking for affirmation between the two artificial jugs of a woman.

Thank you for your time.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    There is a whole history behind this, concerning how president Bush fiddled won an election. Google "hanging chads" or "Bush v. Gore" and learn all about it.

    Basically, a chad is a small piece of card punched out by a machine - in this case a voting machine.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    In a 'punched card', as formerly used in computers, and now used in US voting machines, the little piece of card that gets cut out or pushed out when you 'punch' the card, leaving a hole, is called a chad. The 2000 US presidential election crucially depended on whether some votes in Florida had been properly punched.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Interesting.
    Has then 'punch a chad' taken on the connotation of 'do/vote for something, but it won't matter, because the result has been rigged in advance'? Does it function this way in press for example?
     
    Last edited:

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Interesting.
    Has then 'punch a chad' taken on the connotation of 'do/vote for something, but it won't matter, because the result has been rigged in advance'? Does it function this way in press for example?
    Not in my experience.

    Moreover, those of us in the newspaper world of long ago were quite familiar with "chad" long before the election issue erupted in Florida since in pre-computer days, wire services in the U.S. and probably elsewhere, delivered news to noisy machines that generated long streams of punched paper tape with holes punched in it to encode the textual information.

    We had chad all over the place in what we called "wire rooms."

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baudot_code for more information.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    References to chads and - specifically - hanging chads abound in media, and they always refer to the contested election in Florida. I can't say I've heard punch a chad used that much, but it seems like the same pattern to me.

    But besides referring to the specific problems with the voting machines in Florida, this is also a direct reference to the 76-year-old man as being elderly, a "senior citizen." It's all too complicated to go into here, but it could be said that the decision on who would become president came down to the vote in just a few Florida precincts, and those precincts have a very high concentration of retirees. Therefore it could be said that the election was decided by a relatively few number of elderly people. I think this is an exaggeration, but lots of people have said that, and that is what he is talking about when he says "What to feel you mean something? Move to Florida." He's telling the guy that he can become relevant by becoming one of those elderly people in Florida.
     
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