New Internationalist

Poll/Ballot

August 2004

Poll originally meant the human head and was later used for the counting of heads. Poll in the sense of voting dates from about 1600. Another early method of voting was putting stones or balls into a container. Ballot is from the Italian ballotta, a small ball. Psephology, the prediction of election results, comes from the Greek psephos (pebble).

Flax is one of the earliest known textile fibres. A heckle (from the Middle Dutch hekelen) was originally an instrument for combing the strong fibres of flax or hemp. Heckle was later applied to the public questioning of parliamentary candidates. The candidates would be familiar with another early meaning of heckle: to irritate.

Susan Watkin

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 370 This column was published in the August 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 370

New Internationalist Magazine issue 370
Issue 370

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New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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