By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center
Ballot comes from the Italian word, ballotta or little colored ball. Several hundred years ago, ballottas were used to cast votes (if their candidates did not win, did they throw the balls at each other?). Each voter would drop either a white ball (in favor of the candidate) or a black ball (opposing the candidate) into the ballot box. Paper ballots were first used in North America in 1629 and later became widespread.
Over the centuries, certain individuals have been excluded from dropping that slip of paper in the box. Women did not win the right to vote in this country until 1920; poll taxes were not eliminated until 1964; and literacy tests, used to deny African Americans the right to vote, were not totally outlawed until 1965.
Many people have struggled long and hard to be able to cast their ballottas at the polls. Take time today to cast yours.