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a slip or sheet of paper, cardboard, or the like, on which a voter marks his or her vote.
the method of secret voting by means of printed or written ballots or by means of voting machines.
voting in general, or a round of voting:
Our candidate was defeated on the third ballot.
the list of candidates to be voted on:
They succeeded in getting her name placed on the ballot.
the right to vote:
to gain the ballot after years of struggle.
the whole number of votes cast or recorded.
a system or the practice of drawing lots:
The assassin would be chosen by ballot.
(formerly) a little ball used in voting.
to vote by ballot:
to ballot against a candidate.
to draw lots:
to ballot for places.
to canvass or solicit (a group, membership, etc.) for votes:
Members were balloted on the resolution.
to select, especially for military service, by ballot:
Certain age groups will not be balloted at this time.
Contemporary Examples

But this year, New Yorkers have a shot at making real changes through a ballot initiative sonorously known as Prop 1.
Hate Hyper-Partisanship? Support Redistricting Reform Now John Avlon November 2, 2014

Silence was clearly the preferred strategy of Republican candidates up and down the ballot.
Now, Gay Marriage Is a GOP Problem Marc Solomon November 14, 2014

In 2005, his allies qualified a ballot initiative for a new, tougher spending limit.
Arnold’s Hollywood Problem Joe Mathews May 19, 2009

On the ballot paper there is just one question: Do you support the independence of Donetsk?
Ukraine Separatists Say No to Putin Jamie Dettmer May 7, 2014

Ohio voters rejected the Kasich law last week, while Mississippi voters rejected the ballot measure to define a fetus as a person.
Warning Signs GOP Has Overreached Heading Into 2012 Elections Jill Lawrence November 15, 2011

Historical Examples

The ballot was first given to the Negro to defend him against this very thing.
The Negro Problem Booker T. Washington, et al.

First, there was the temptation to act wrongly with the Negro’s ballot.
Booker T. Washington Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe

We should be interested in the ballot for it is one way in which public opinion may be expressed.
Citizenship Emma Guy Cromwell

We are to have universal suffrage, annual parliaments, and vote by ballot.
The English Utilitarians, Volume I. Leslie Stephen

The right of man to the ballot is a logical deduction from the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence.
The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume IV Various

the democratic practice of selecting a representative, a course of action, or deciding some other choice by submitting the options to a vote of all qualified persons
an instance of voting, usually in secret using ballot papers or a voting machine
the paper on which a vote is recorded
a list of candidates standing for office
the number of votes cast in an election
a random selection of successful applicants for something in which the demand exceeds the supply, esp for shares in an oversubscribed new issue
(NZ) the allocation by ballot of farming land among eligible candidates, such as ex-servicemen
(NZ) a low-interest housing loan allocated by building societies by drawing lots among its eligible members
verb -lots, -loting, -loted
to vote or elicit a vote from: we balloted the members on this issue
(transitive) usually foll by for. to select (officials, etc) by lot or ballot or to select (successful applicants) at random
(transitive) often foll by for. to vote or decide (on an issue, etc)

1540s, “small ball used in voting,” also “secret vote taken by ballots,” from Italian pallotte, diminutive of palla “ball,” for small balls used as counters in secret voting (see balloon). Earliest references are to Venice. Ballot box attested from 1670s.

1540s, from ballot (n.). Related: Balloted; balloting.
see: stuff the ballot box


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  • Ballot box

    a receptacle for voters’ ballots. a system or instance of voting by ballot. Contemporary Examples The only question now is whether evangelical voters are ready to make the same choice at the ballot box. Pawlenty’s Pastor Problem McKay Coppins July 11, 2011 Just go to your ballot box, close your eyes, and vote for me […]

  • Ballot paper

    noun a paper used for voting in a ballot, esp (in a parliamentary or local government election) one having the names of the candidates printed on it Contemporary Examples On the ballot paper there is just one question: Do you support the independence of Donetsk? Ukraine Separatists Say No to Putin Jamie Dettmer May 7, […]

  • Ballottine

    a kind of galantine made of meat, poultry, or fish that is stuffed and rolled and usually served hot. adjective See ballotine

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