Definition of ballot in English:



  • 1A process of voting, in writing and typically in secret.

    ‘the commissioners were elected by ballot’
    ‘next year's primary ballot’
    • ‘Last July, after negotiations failed to produce any progress, workers overwhelmingly voted in a union ballot to strike.’
    • ‘In addition to pay, there are also strike ballots over safety, victimisation of union reps and other issues.’
    • ‘Britain's firefighters voted to hold a ballot for strike action today.’
    • ‘Mixed feelings swell up inside me when I consider the issue of postal ballots in the local elections this year.’
    • ‘Mental health workers in Manchester have voted for a strike ballot over cuts they claim will kill patients.’
    • ‘After all the videos were played (All were really great!) the crowd voted by ballot.’
    • ‘While out of office, he campaigned for further reforms, including vote by ballot, household suffrage, and triennial parliaments, embarrassing the Whig ministers.’
    • ‘The questions to be answered are selected by groups of practicing family physicians who vote through an online ballot.’
    • ‘Votes in a ballot for strike action are still being counted.’
    • ‘The workers are to begin voting in a strike ballot on January 25, following their rejection of a proposed two-year wage deal from the company.’
    • ‘There has been a strike ballot over the issue, which closes this week.’
    • ‘Four local newspaper chapels have now voted for strike ballots.’
    • ‘Apart from some ‘legislators-at-large’, however, all the legislators were elected by ballot.’
    • ‘Teachers in four other schools are to hold consultative strike ballots over the same issue.’
    • ‘Voting by ballot in Division elections shall be conducted by mail and shall include the option of electronic means as provided for by the Board of Directors.’
    • ‘Eurotunnel train drivers are to hold a strike ballot over the issue of trade union recognition, it was announced this week.’
    • ‘A person's membership may be revoked for cause, other than nonpayment of dues, by a two-thirds vote by ballot of the Board of Directors.’
    • ‘And residents will have to choose from a huge 15 nominations for councillor positions when they vote by ballot.’
    • ‘Almost two out of three who voted in a preliminary ballot said they would strike over plans by Essex County Council to make the changes in September.’
    • ‘Every district secretary, every regional secretary was elected by ballot.’
    public vote, plebiscite, popular vote, poll
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1the ballot The total number of votes cast in a ballot.
      ‘he won 54 percent of the ballot’
      • ‘At first glance the ballot results might suggest total failure for this Labour strategy - at least on the local election front.’
      • ‘The union was unable to reveal the level of turnout for the ballot.’
      • ‘In our phone poll more than 80 per cent favoured postponing the ballot.’
      • ‘Morales garnered 21 percent of the ballot to place a surprise second in the presidential race.’
      • ‘With less than 1 percent of ballot votes counted, the U.S.-backed Karzai is ahead with 56 percent of the vote.’
      • ‘As of Tuesday morning, the party was still among the top six in the ballot counting, gaining 7.09% of the votes.’
      • ‘Debs won 897,000 votes on election day, 6 percent of the ballot before women had the right to vote.’
      • ‘In the ballot for industrial action a majority of 82 percent voted in favour of strike action.’
      • ‘Instead, his vote dropped by over a million votes and in the first round of voting he gained just 34.9 percent of the ballot.’
      • ‘Ray predicted that violations would be rampant during both legislative and presidential elections and during the ballot counting.’
      • ‘The demand to reopen the ballot box was sparked by a statement made by three councillors who witnessed the ballot counting.’
      • ‘In fact the ballot saw 57 per cent of tenants turn out to vote with 76 per cent voting ‘yes’ to the move.’
      • ‘His vote share grew and in the Assembly elections he led the party in securing 45 per cent of the ballot.’
      • ‘The nut has won the argument and now we need to maximise the turnout in the ballot.’
      • ‘The turnout for the ballot was 68 per cent, and of those, the vote was 2,947 in favour of action and 2,246 against.’
      • ‘The turnout from the ballot was reported to be extremely high, possibly up to 80%, with a result due on Friday.’
      • ‘There was a low turnout in the ballot with just 30 percent of teachers voting.’
      • ‘Punch cards have averaged a residual vote rate of 2.5 percent in presidential elections and 4.7 percent down the ballot.’
      • ‘Of the 16,000 workers who participated in the ballot, 84.4 percent voted in favor of strike action.’
      • ‘Voter complaints about being given incorrect ballots and mismatches between ballot totals and the number of people who signed up to vote also surfaced in San Diego.’
      vote, poll, election, referendum, plebiscite, general election, local election, popular vote, straw poll, show of hands
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The piece of paper used to record someone's vote.
      • ‘Referendums and elections should be held with plain old paper ballots, marked by voters with a sturdy pencil.’
      • ‘A suspended election would involve extraordinary efforts to secure and protect ballots and voting systems.’
      • ‘Which is worse: e-voting without a paper record or paper ballots?’
      • ‘Of course, Mr Leslie may also wish to adopt the proven ‘inked finger’ security system to ensure the ballot's greater integrity.’
      • ‘The paper ballots will be checked at election offices while votes recorded in the machines will be examined at an army base.’
      • ‘If a printer breaks, the voter is not allowed to cast a vote until the ballot is finished printing.’
      • ‘The election will be a postal ballot, with voting papers going out from 4 October.’
      • ‘Well look, you know, it is too late to fix these machines, but really we should be voting on paper ballots.’
      • ‘He defeated the National Awakening Party candidate by just one ballot.’
      • ‘Elections have been stolen and voters disenfranchised with paper ballots, too.’
      • ‘With a postal ballot, community patriarchs can insist on inspecting the ballots before voting.’
      • ‘And with more than 11,000 electoral jurisdictions designing their own ballots and voting systems, all of our votes are in danger.’
      • ‘That is because of ‘chads’ on the punched ballot, or small pieces of paper left when the voter does not fully punch the paper.’
      • ‘A manual count is a laborious process whereby each ballot is scrutinised individually by local electoral officials.’
      • ‘The voting machines and paper ballots for said election shall carry the following designation, which shall be the title and submission clause.’
      • ‘Those who find that they cannot vote electronically should proceed to the Feds office, where paper ballots will be made available.’
      • ‘Punch cards, the other paper-based system, loses at least 50 percent more votes than optically-scanned paper ballots.’
      • ‘To be counted, the ballot must be received at headquarters by Friday, September 6.’
      • ‘That's not all - the party plans to use paper ballots rather than voting machines in order to keep down costs.’
      • ‘Democrats also had difficulty locating New York regiments in order to distribute ballots and collect the votes.’
      vote, poll, election, referendum, plebiscite, general election, local election, popular vote, straw poll, show of hands
      View synonyms


  • 1(of an organization) elicit a secret vote from (members) on a particular issue.

    ‘the union is preparing to ballot its members on the same issue’
    • ‘At its annual conference in April, the National Union of Teachers voted to ballot its members on boycotting the testing of pupils at ages seven, 11 and 14 in England.’
    • ‘Although there are less than 1,000 clerical workers, all 8,000 of the union's members are being balloted.’
    • ‘The GMB union had threatened to ballot its 2,000 members at Warrington, Cheshire and Aylesford in Kent in a row over contracts of employment.’
    • ‘The drivers' union ASLEF is preparing to ballot its members for a 48-hour strike.’
    • ‘Union members are now being balloted on industrial action.’
    • ‘The National Union of Journalists is preparing to ballot its members over a cull of staff at Express Newspapers that could see up to 13 jobs lost in Scotland.’
    • ‘Unison members may also be balloted for strike action.’
    • ‘It said it was currently balloting members in headquarter areas for supportive industrial action, and was receiving a very positive response.’
    • ‘The PPTA is currently balloting its 14,400 members on government moves to take a 16-month dispute over pay and workloads into arbitration.’
    • ‘Last April's NUT annual conference unanimously voted to ballot members on a boycott of the SAT's.’
    • ‘Union members were balloted and voted for the one-day strike next Wednesday.’
    • ‘The union will ballot its nearly 500 members at First Bus on the offer.’
    • ‘Every time the members have been balloted they have come back more strongly in favour of action.’
    • ‘Their members are being balloted for action and the result was expected on Friday of this week.’
    • ‘‘It could be we will ballot our IT members on possible industrial action,’ he told the paper.’
    • ‘The Teachers Union of Ireland is preparing to ballot its members on the offer.’
    • ‘The union accused employers of trying to make last-minute changes to the deal and warned that its 55,000 members could be balloted again for a fresh bout of industrial action.’
    • ‘Issues have been clarified and various unions expect to have balloted their members by the end of this week.’
    • ‘We are balloting members, and those votes will be counted tomorrow.’
    • ‘They would then ballot their 11,000 members on such an offer.’
    canvass, survey, ask, question, interview, ballot, sample
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object Cast one's vote on a particular issue.
      ‘ambulance crews balloted unanimously to reject the deal’
      • ‘Over 8,000 drivers, warehouse and support staff in Morrisons are to ballot for strike action.’
      • ‘Teachers voted to ballot for industrial action yesterday after calling for reduced class sizes in Scotland.’
      • ‘It would be equal to a political public beheading if your office denies access to ballot for SEP on the basis of any bureaucratic assault.’
      • ‘They voted unanimously to ballot to strike in defence of educational provision in the borough.’
      • ‘This was the fourth time the workforce had been asked if they wanted to ballot for strike action.’
      • ‘About 300 school caretakers and cleaners employed by Jarvis in Huddersfield and Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, are set to ballot for strikes over pay and conditions.’
      • ‘Tomorrow morning a special Caucus meeting will be held to ballot for the new positions on the frontbench.’
      • ‘But if the Board maintains its present approach the union will be forced to ballot for protest action to protect services and jobs.’
      • ‘The cabin crews have balloted for industrial action and a massive ‘yes’ vote is expected.’
      • ‘Unions are to ballot for industrial action from this week over fears that regional airports will not be able to survive on their own.’
      • ‘Hundreds of striking Yorkshire miners are set to ballot for further industrial action, in a ground-breaking legal manoeuvre which could safeguard their jobs.’
      • ‘‘In the absence of those assurances, we will have no choice but to ballot for industrial action,’ he said.’
      • ‘It was regrettable that the workers felt that they had been put into a corner where they had to ballot for industrial action.’
      • ‘Cabin crew will ballot for industrial action this week.’
      • ‘On Friday of this week, Unison was set to announce whether it would ballot for a one day strike - possibly for 23 March.’
      • ‘A mass meeting of over 500 Unison members held at the end of November voted unanimously to ballot for further action in support of the social workers.’
      • ‘Ambulance workers in the West Midlands and Shropshire are set to ballot for strikes over the implementation of a new pay deal.’
      • ‘The train drivers' union Aslef is also threatening to ballot for strikes in a separate dispute over pay.’
      • ‘It is vital that all the broadcasting unions move to ballot for action swiftly before the mood turns to resignation, they say.’
      • ‘Firefighters in York have voted unanimously to ballot for county-wide strike action in protest at the controversial sacking of a colleague.’
    2. 1.2 Decide the allocation of (something) to applicants by drawing lots.
      • ‘If you're interested in 2 Arsenal tickets let me know - my husband and I balloted for tickets before we knew the fixture list.’
      • ‘I balloted for tickets, did whatever I was asked to do to "increase my chances of getting tickets" but still - no tickets.’
      • ‘The Junior concert has 'caught on' to such an extent that tickets will soon have to be balloted for.’


Mid 16th century (originally denoting a small colored ball placed in a container to register a vote): from Italian ballotta, diminutive of balla (see ball).