Second Vatican Council

Electronic tabulators to tally council votes

(The following is the complete reprint of a 1962 article run in The Criterion in the final days leading up to the Second Vatican Council)

Criterion logo from the 1960sVATICAN CITY—Electronic machines are reducing the chore of counting the votes of more than 2,500 Fathers at the Second Vatican Council to a 20-minute task.

Two tabulators centers have been set up in St. Peter’s basilica. One checks attendance at the meetings and the other processes votes.

Each voting participant in the council receives a card bearing personal information, including his name, title and nationality.

As a Father takes his place in the council hall, he signs the card with a pencil sensitive to an electronic reading process.

The cards of all the Fathers attending a meeting are collected and put through an electronic reading process which translates the signatures into a series of perforations on the cards. The perforated cards are fed into a tabulator which puts them in the correct order and pints a list of those attending.

The Fathers are also given a card for each vote. These cards have spaces on the right hand side for the three possible votes: “placet” (yes); “non placet” (no); and “placet juxta modum” (yes but with changes).

When the cards have been marked for a vote, they are put through the electronic reading process which transcribes the votes into perforations, discarding blank or void cards. The perforated cards are fed to the tabulator which counts all the votes within 20 minutes.

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