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It's all about the CHAD?!?

November 12, 2000

What on earth is a "chad", and how did it go from being a strange-sounding first name to the largest buzzword in U.S. politics within less than a week?

For those of you who aren't in the know, a "chad" is a perforated punch-out on a piece of paper.  The reason for the sudden over-use of the word "chad" is that such punchouts are the style of electoral ballots in last week's United States federal election.  Normally, a winner is declared in such an election within several hours of the closure of the polls.  However, this year, thanks to CHAD, there is still no decided victor after almost a week.

What we have had, however, was a tremendous controversy resulting in numerous hand recounts of many of the ballots from 25 of Florida's electoral districts.   The first time the ballots were recounted (by machine), it was noted that some of the "chad" on the ballot was falling out...was it pushed out, or was it beginning to fall out after being shuffled repeatedly through ballot counting machines?

For those of you who can't get that picture of Chad Lowe (Rob's brother) out of your mind, please accept this explanation for WHY?!?

CHAD is a bastardization of the word CHADLESS.  Chadless was the surname of the inventor of the Chadless keypunch.  This sort of keypunch cut U-shaped notches in punch cards for use with primitive computers.  The origin of the word "chad" must stem from this - if a Chadless keypunch doesn't leave holes in the cards, those holes must be called "chad".   "Chad" also describes the perforated side-roller feed scrap on rotor-fed printer paper, also known as "cabbage", "perf", "snaf", or "perfory".   Just so you know...

There are several types of "chad", so the Palm Beach County Voting Authority tells us, some of which count as a vote, and some  which do not.

Initially, the test to determine whether a "chad" has been punched out involved holding a ballot up to the light.  If one could see through the "chad", it was "punched out".  However, this test didn't take into account any "chad-oriented" issues, and the test was expanded to accommodate the following:

bullethanging-door chad (counts as a vote)- where one corner of the chad is hanging off
bulletswinging-door chad (counts as a vote)- where two corners of a chad are hanging off
bullettri-chad (counts as a vote)- a chad that has three of the four corners hanging off
bulletpregnant chad (does not count as a vote)- bulged, but not punched through
bulletdimpled chad (does not count as a vote)- a simple indentation

Sure, but there can't ONLY be FIVE TYPES OF CHAD?!?  Notice how we aren't saying "CHADS", as "CHAD" is its own plural...just so you know.

Here are several other little-known types of "chad":

bulletDoggie-door chad - a top-hinged chad
bulletPavel Bure chad - a ballot that would appear to have been punched out with a hockey stick rather than a stylus, this is not to be confused with a Kournikova chad...
bulletKournikova chad - a ballot that would appear to have been punched out by the tennis racquet of a non-American underage  blonde with a fondness for hockey players
bulletKlumps chad - an entire electoral district whose ballots were punched by Eddie Murphy in various characters
bulletMiami relatives chad - a vote that has been hidden in a closet and had to be seized by the FBI in the middle of the night
bulletPee-Wee Herman chad - a chad that appears to have been punched out accidentally, but where other marks on the ballot indicate "I meant to do that"
bulletPaul Reubens chad - a chad that was located on the floor of a porn theatre
bulletMickey Mouse chad - a ballot that was perforated by someone with the manual dexterity of a Disney mascot

Happy chad counting, Americans.  The Paperless One is predicting another vote rather than recounts, as the more these votes are handled, the more chad simply falls out.  Before the chad hits the fan, there should be another vote, or Dubya and Gore should get used to sharing a bed in the White House!

Don't believe me?  Check out these pages!

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