As we're nearing the November 7th election day in the U.S. we thought we'd shed a little light on the humble voting pencil--a type of pencil that is mostly a memory for most states and most nations. Australia and the UK are amongst the few places that still use them. In lieu of hanging chads, electronic machines and polling station issued pens we once used pencils too, something we were recently reminded of when we acquired a large number of old "Booth" pencils made by General Pencil Company, many of which even include the screw for screwing the string into the polling station.
In Denmark there's still a very special voting pencil on the market--the Viking Valgblyant, which is a hefty jumbo 2B with a hole drilled in the end. It was originally commissioned by Danish authorities who wanted a better voting pencil.
So, why do some places still use a pencil for voting? This is a question that was debated heavily in the British media earlier this year. The answer: They don't run out of ink or dry out, are cheaper than pens, are more reliable, and won't smudge if they get wet. That said, there's no legal requirement to use a pencil--a voter could walk in with their own carefully selected pen and that would be okay too.
When you go to vote on Tuesday don't forget your favorite #2, if even only for good luck.