Voting Patents Past and Present

The election to decide the President of the United States, also known as the POTUS, was completed on Tuesday, with the exception of Florida which can’t ever seem to do these things in a timely manner. Depending on who your candidate was, you are either in a state of elation or sheer demoralization (I suppose you could be blasé if you voted for a third party candidate and knew you had no shot at winning to begin with). But regardless of who you voted for to become the next POTUS, something we can all agree on (besides supporting the cocktail party) is that voting is an easy process (in theory) made more complicated by the various wizardry and gadgetry that is used to count your vote. Much like the VCR (everyone reading this is old enough to remember them, right?) that always blinked 12:00 because the user couldn’t figure out how to set the time, voting technology throughout history has been convoluted and open to all sorts of shenanigans that would make a TV political pundit’s head explode. To honor the patriots who made our process of democracy more interesting, here are some of our favorite voting patent documents.

1) Electronic voting system – US 2003/0066872 A1

voting system

It looks like an early 90’s Mac is really at the center of it all.

A process developed to make voting easier and more secure has one fatal flaw, a worm drive (43; Fig. 2 — ostensibly a Write Once Read Many drive, I still wouldn’t want worms crawling around in my system). Hackers can’t believe their luck and the cast of the Jersey Shore are voted into the White House on their pro-steroids policy. Lance Armstrong is immediately given a reprieve. What’s that? Too soon? Sorry!

2) Punch-type vote recording device – US 5,260,550 A


This could alternately be used as a trocar in a medical procedure.

Can you say hanging chad?

Wait a minute. Hanging chad jokes are so 12 years ago…Sorry!

3) Integrated vote by mail processing system – US 7,240,835 B2

mail voting

Don’t get caught in the infinite loop.

Voting by mail is great! You receive your ballot, pick your candidates, mail it in, and gloat at all the people who had to wait in line to vote.

Oh, you didn’t receive your mail-in ballot, even though you registered to do so…Sorry!

4) Ballot marking system and apparatus utilizing pivotal touchscreen – US 8,063,885 B2

tablet voting

The headphones are probably for audio instructions, but maybe there are sick jams on that machine you can rock out to, as well.

An innovative way to allow people to use tablet computers to vote.

Wait, what? The tablets were tracking who you voted for and sent them to a secret database read by alien overlords…We’re sorry!

5) Rotary Cam Controlled Voting Machine – US 3,301,039 A


Pull the handle, win a prize.

Possibly the greatest invention in voting is the giant handle that allows you to register your votes in the old-timey voting booths.

The gears weren’t properly lubricated and you snapped the handle off…Sorry!

Next time: Danny runs for office after mastering The Apology, a political mainstay. He is defeated in a landslide, receiving no votes, not even voting for himself.

Find previous writings and musings from the off-kilter Danny Rooney here.
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This post was contributed by Registered Patent Agent Dan Wolka and edited by Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.

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