Title:
ELECTION BALLOT PRINTING SYSTEM AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An election ballot printing system includes a support structure having an inner volume, wherein the support structure carries a printer and a computer. The support structure includes a door which is repeatably moveable between open and closed positions. The door carries the computer, so the computer is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume.



Inventors:
Runbeck, Robert Kevin (Paradise Valley, AZ, US)
Guyett, Valentino F. (Olympia, WA, US)
Latsko, John W. (Chandler, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/055303
Publication Date:
10/02/2008
Filing Date:
03/25/2008
Assignee:
Runbeck Election Services, Inc. (Tempe, AZ, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F16M13/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FERGUSON SAMRETH, MARISSA LIANA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHMEISER OLSEN & WATTS (MESA, AZ, US)
Claims:
1. An election ballot printing system, comprising: a support structure having an inner volume; a printer carried by the support structure; and a computer in communication with the printer, the computer being repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the support structure includes a door repeatably moveable between open and closed positions.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the computer is carried by the door.

4. The system of claim 2, wherein the computer moves in response to movement of the door.

5. The system of claim 1, further including a computer monitor carried by the support structure.

6. The system of claim 1, further including a computer input device carried by the support structure.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the support structure is mobile.

8. An election ballot printing system, comprising: a mobile support structure having an inner volume and a door repeatably moveable between open and closed positions; a printer carried by the mobile support structure; and a computer in communication with the printer, the computer being carried by the door.

9. The system of claim 8, further including a cable connected between the computer and printer, the cable extending through the mobile support structure.

10. The system of claim 8, further including a support arm carried by the mobile support structure.

11. The system of claim 10, further including a computer monitor carried by the support arm.

12. The system of claim 10, further including a computer input device carried by the support arm.

13. The system of claim 8, further including a power supply carried by the mobile support structure.

14. The system of claim 8, further including a fan which adjusts the flow of air in the inner volume.

15. A method of providing an election ballot printing system, comprising: providing a support structure having an inner volume; positioning a printer so it is carried by the support structure; and positioning a computer so it is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume, wherein the computer is in communication with the printer.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the computer is carried by a door of the support structure.

17. The method of claim 15, further including attaching a support arm to the support structure.

18. The method of claim 17, further including positioning a computer monitor so it is carried by the support arm.

19. The method of claim 15, further including extending one or more cables through an opening in the support structure.

20. The method of claim 15, further including positioning a power supply in the inner volume.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/908,141 filed on Mar. 26, 2007, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to generating ballots using a printer.

2. Description of the Related Art

It is generally not known before an election the number of people who will vote, as well as their identity. Hence, a large number of ballots are often printed before an election in the hope that there will be enough ballots for all of the voters. Providing enough ballots for all of the voters is difficult because the ballots are not all the same. For example, the ballots can be different for different political parties, such as Independent, Democrat and Republican. The ballots can be different for different geographical locations, such as different counties, cities and states. Further, it is often necessary to provide ballots in different languages (i.e. English and Spanish) because voters typically understand different languages. The ballots can even be different for different elections, such as state and national elections.

To better illustrate the problem, consider an election which has 10,000 registered voters. In this situation, it is typical to print and distribute about 50,000 ballots with the hope that the correct ballot will be available for each voter. For example, if one voter speaks Spanish and is a Republican, then he or she will need to be provided with a ballot written in Spanish that corresponds with a ballot for the Republican Party. Hence, the ballot must be the correct ballot for the person requesting it.

The ballots are distributed to different voting sites around the location that the election will take place. It can be appreciated that it is difficult and time consuming to print and distribute a large number of ballots, and it would be much easier to print a distribute a smaller number of them. Further, once the ballots are at the voting site, it is difficult and time consumer to find the correct ballot for the voter. Some voters may not be able to vote if the voting site runs out of the correct ballots, or if the correct ballot cannot be found.

Ballots that are printed for the election and not used are typically discarded after the election. Discarding unused ballots is wasteful and expensive, so it is desirable to reduce this occurrence.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention involves an election ballot printing system which includes a printer and computer which are operatively coupled together and carried by a support structure. The support structure includes a door which is repeatably moveable between open and closed positions relative to an inner volume. The door carries the computer, so the computer is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume.

In some embodiments, a support arm is carried by the support structure and a computer monitor is carried by the support arm. One or more computer input devices can also be carried by the support arm. The computer, printer, computer monitor and computer input devices move in response to movement of the support structure. In this way, election ballot printing system operates as a mobile unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of an election ballot printing system, in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the election ballot printing system of FIG. 1 with a door in an open condition.

FIG. 3 is a close-up view of a computer being carried by the door of FIG. 2, in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 4 is a close-up view of a power supply included with the election ballot printing system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of computer periphery devices being carried by a non-moveable stand included with the election ballot printing system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of computer periphery devices being carried by a moveable stand included with the election ballot printing system of FIG. 1.

FIGS. 7a and 7b are flow diagrams of methods of providing an election ballot printing system, in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 8 is a method of manufacturing an election ballot printing system, in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1 and 2 are side and perspective views, respectively, of an election ballot printing system 100, in accordance with the invention. In this embodiment, election ballot printing system 100 includes a printer 101 carried by a support structure 110 on a surface 109. Printer 101 can be of many different types, such as an ILUMINA digital color press manufactured by XANTE Corporation. Printer 101 includes input port 102 for receiving an unprinted ballot and an output port 103 for outputting a printed ballot.

More information regarding various components of election ballot printing system 100 can be found in U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled METHOD OF OPERATING AN ELECTION BALLOT PRINTING SYSTEM, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/055,293, entitled ACCEPTANCE TRAY FOR AN ELECTION BALLOT PRINTING SYSTEM, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/055,288, entitled FEED TRAY EXTENSION FOR AN ELECTION BALLOT PRINTING SYSTEM, each being filed on an event date herewith, by the same inventors, the contents of each of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

Support structure 110 can be of many different types, but, in this embodiment, support structure 110 is embodied as a cart. The cart defines an inner volume 111 (FIG. 2) and includes wheels 108 attached to a cart body 104, so that support structure 110 is mobile. Support structure 110 includes a door 105 attached to cart body 104 with hinges 107, so it is repeatably moveable between open and closed positions relative to inner volume 111. It should be noted that door 105 is shown in the closed and open positions in FIGS. 1 and 2, respectively. Cart body 104 and door 105 enclose inner volume 111 when door 105 is in the closed position. Further, door 105 allows access to inner volume 111 when it is in the open position.

In this embodiment, support structure 110 includes a latch 106 carried by door 105, wherein latch 106 is capable of latching door 105 in the closed position. Door 105 and latch 106 restrict access to inner volume 111 when door 105 is latched in the closed position. Latch 106 can be of many different types. However, in this embodiment, latch 106 is a locking latch which restricts the ability to move door 105 between the open and closed positions. The ability to restrict the movement of door 105 between the open and closed positions is useful for many different reasons, one of which will be discussed in more detail presently.

In accordance with the invention, election ballot printing system 100 includes a computer 120 carried by support structure 110, wherein computer 120 is operatively coupled with printer 101 so they are in communication with each other. Computer 120 and printer 101 can be in communication with each other in many different ways. In this embodiment, a cable 122 is connected between computer 120 and printer 101 so they can communicate with each other. Cable 122 extends through support structure 110 and allows signals to flow between computer 120 and printer 101. Cable 122 can extend through support structure 110 in many different way, but, in this embodiment, cable 122 extends through an opening 127 (FIG. 6) which extends through cart body 104 of support structure 110. It should be noted, however, that computer 120 and printer 101 can be in communication with each other wirelessly, if desired.

Computer 120 can be of many different types, such as a laptop computer. However, in this embodiment, computer 120 is a desktop computer capable of operating printer 101. It should be noted that election ballot printing system 100 can include many different computer periphery devices operatively connected with computer 120, several of which will be discussed in more detail with FIGS. 5 and 6. It should also be noted that computer 120 can be carried by support structure 110 in many different ways, one of which will be discussed in more detail presently.

FIG. 3 is a close-up view of computer 120 being carried by door 105. Computer 120 can be carried by door 105 in many different ways. In this embodiment, a bracket 135 attaches computer 120 to door 105. Bracket 135 can be of many different types, but in this embodiment, bracket 135 is an L-bracket which is attached to door 105 and an upper surface of computer 120. It should be noted that bracket 135 can be attached to other surfaces of computer 120, such as its lower surface (not shown). Bracket 135 can be attached to door 105 and computer 120 in many different ways, but, in this embodiment, bracket 135 is attached to door 105 and computer 120 with screws 136.

In accordance with the invention, computer 120 is carried by door 105 so that computer 120 moves in response to door 105 being moved between the open and closed positions. Computer 120 is repeatably moveable between stored and unstored positions in response to door 105 being in closed and opened positions, respectively. Computer 120 is inside inner volume 111 when door 105 is closed and computer 120 is outside inner volume 111 when door 105 is open. In this way, computer 120 is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside inner volume 111.

In accordance with the invention, access to computer 120 is restricted when door 105 is in the closed position. Access to computer 120 is further restricted when door 105 is in the closed position and latch 106 is in the locked condition. It is desirable to restrict access to computer 120 because it operates printer 101 and stores election data. Hence, by restricting access to computer 120 it is less likely that ballots can be undesirably generated using printer 101 and that the election data can be undesirably copied or altered. In this way, election ballot printing system 100 is secure, which increases the likelihood that unauthorized ballots cannot be generated, which preserves the accuracy and integrity of an election.

FIG. 4 is a close-up view of a power supply 121 included with election ballot printing system 100. In this embodiment, power supply 121 is operatively coupled with printer 101 and computer 120, and provides power to them. Power supply 121 can be of many different types. However, in this embodiment, power supply 121 is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) made by APC Corporation of Kinston, R.I.

In accordance with the invention, power supply 121 is carried by cart body 104. Power supply 121 can be carried by cart body 104 in many different ways. In this embodiment, cart body 104 includes a shelf 150 which extends through inner volume 111, wherein power supply 121 is carried by shelf 150 and connected to computer 120 and printer 101 with cables 126 and 112, respectively. A bracket 151 is used to attach power supply 121 to cart body 104 so securely hold it in place.

In this embodiment, election ballot printing system 100 includes a fan 123 which adjusts the flow of air in inner volume 111. Fan 123 can be positioned at many different locations, but, in this embodiment, it is positioned so it extends through cart body 104. In operation, the air within inner volume 111 is flowed by fan 123 to the region external to cart body 104. In this way, the temperature of the air within inner volume 111 is reduced in response to the operation of fan 123. Reducing the temperature of the air within inner volume 111 is useful because it extends the life of power supply 121 and computer 120. Extending the life of power supply 121 and computer 120 will decrease the cost of operating election ballot printing system 100 because they can be replaced less often.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of computer periphery devices being carried by the election ballot printing system 100 using a non-moveable stand 140. The computer periphery devices can be of many different types, but, in this embodiment, they are a computer monitor 151 and computer input devices. The computer input devices can be of many types, but here they are embodied as a computer mouse 148 and a computer keyboard 143. Computer monitor 151, mouse 148 and keyboard 143 can be carried by election ballot printing system 100 in many ways, one of which will be discussed in more detail presently.

In this embodiment, non-moveable stand 140 is attached to cart body 104 with a support arm 144 and bracket 145, wherein stand 140 carries computer monitor 151, mouse 148 and keyboard 143. An opposed end of support arm 144 carries a table 142, which carries keyboard 143 and mouse 148. It should be noted that table 142 can operate as a mouse pad in some situations. In other situations, surface 109 can carry computer mouse 148, as shown in phantom, and operate as a mouse pad. Table 142 also carries a support arm 141 which extends upwardly therefrom and carries computer monitor 151.

Computer monitor 151, mouse 148, and keyboard 143 are operatively connected to computer 120. Monitor 151, mouse 148 and keyboard 143 can be operatively connected to computer 120 in many different ways, such as wirelessly or with wires. In this embodiment, election ballot printing system 100 includes cables 124 and 125 which extend between computer 120 and keyboard 143 and computer monitor 151, respectively, and mouse 148 is operated wirelessly. Cables 124 and 125 can extend between computer 120 and keyboard 143 and computer monitor 151 in many different ways. In this embodiment, cables 124 and 125 extend through inner volume 111 and an opening 128, wherein opening 128 extends through cart body 104.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of election ballot printing system 100 which includes an articulating support assembly 137. In this embodiment, articulating support assembly 137 includes a support arm 148 rotatably coupled with bracket 145 with an articulating arm joint 146. Articulating arm joint 146 allows support arm 148 to rotate relative to cart body 104. Articulating support assembly 137 includes a support arm 149 rotatably coupled with support arm 148 with an articulating arm joint 147. Articulating arm joint 147 allows support arm 149 to rotate relative to support arm 148. In this way, articulating support assembly 137 operates as a rotatable support assembly. Examples of articulating support assemblies with articulating arm joints are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,837,468.

In this embodiment, support arm 149 carries keyboard table 142 with computer monitor arm 150 extending upwardly therefrom. Computer keyboard 143 is carried by keyboard table 142 and computer monitor 140 is carried by computer monitor arm 150. It should be noted that articulating support assembly 137 can be replaced with many other different types of support assemblies, several example of which are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,481,683 and 6,257,531.

As discussed above, election ballot printing system 100 can include many different components, such as computer 120, printer 101, power supply 121, support assemblies 136 and 137, computer monitor 140, as well as one or more computer periphery devices. In accordance with the invention, these components are carried by support structure 102 so that they move in response to support structure 102 being moved. In this way, election ballot printing system 100 operates as a mobile unit so it can be moved from one location to another without having to assemble and/or disassemble it. Hence, election ballot printing system 100 can be provided to a user as an assembled unit.

FIG. 7a is a flow diagram of a method 200 of providing an election ballot printing system, in accordance with the invention. In this embodiment, method 200 includes a step 201 of providing a support structure having an inner volume and a step 202 of positioning a printer so it is carried by the support structure. The support structure can be of many different types, but it is generally mobile so it can be moved from one location to another. In this embodiment, the support structure is a wheeled cart having a cart body and a door hingedly attached thereto. The door is repeatably moveable between open and closed positions. The printer is generally carried on an upper surface of the support structure.

In this embodiment, method 200 includes a step 203 of positioning a computer so it is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume. The computer can be positioned so it is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume in many different ways. In accordance with the invention, the computer is positioned so it is carried by the door of the support structure. The computer can be positioned so it is carried by the door in many different ways, such as with a bracket.

In some embodiments, method 200 includes a step of positioning a power supply in the inner volume, wherein the power supply provides power to the computer and printer. The power supply can provide power to the computer and printer in many different ways, but, in this embodiment, it provides power to the computer and printer through power cables. The power supply operates as a back-up power supply and provides power to the computer and printer when the main power supply is unavailable. The main power supply can be unavailable for many different reasons, such as during a power outage. The main power supply can also be unavailable when the election ballot printing system cannot be connected to it, such as when the election ballot printing system is positioned away from a power outlet.

FIG. 7a is a flow diagram of a method 210 of providing an election ballot printing system, in accordance with the invention. In this embodiment, method 210 includes a step 211 of providing a cart having an inner volume and a step 212 of positioning a printer so it is carried by the cart. In this embodiment, the cart has an inner volume includes a door repeatably moveable between open and closed positions relative to the inner volume.

In this embodiment, method 210 includes a step 213 of positioning a computer so it is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume. The computer can be positioned so it is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume in many different ways. In accordance with the invention, the computer is positioned so it is carried by the door of the cart.

In this embodiment, method 210 includes a step 214 of providing a stand carried by the cart. The stand can be of many different types, such as a moveable or non-moveable stand. Method 220 includes a step of positioning one or more computer accessories so they care carried by the stand. The computer accessories can be of many different types, such as a computer monitor, computer keyboard, computer mouse, etc. The computer accessory is operatively coupled with the computer.

FIG. 8 is a method 220 of manufacturing an election ballot printing system, in accordance with the invention. In this embodiment, method 220 includes a step 221 of providing a support structure. The support structure can be of many different types, but here it is a wheeled cart having an inner volume and a door repeatably moveable between open and closed positions. The support structure is capable of carrying a printer.

In this embodiment, method 220 includes a step 222 of coupling a computer to the door of the support structure so the computer is repeatably moveable between positions inside and outside the inner volume. The computer can be coupled to the door in many different ways, such as with a bracket.

In this embodiment, method 220 includes a step 223 of coupling a stand to the support structure. The stand can be of many different types, such as a moveable or non-moveable stand. The moveable stand generally includes a table coupled with one or more articulating arms and articulating joints. The articulating arms and joints allow the table to move relative to the support structure.

In this embodiment, method 220 includes a step 224 of forming one or more openings through the support structure. The openings are positioned and sized so that one or more cables can extend through them. In this way, the cable(s) can extend between the inner volume of the support structure and a region external to the support structure. The cables are generally used to connect the computer to the printer or a computer input devices.

It should be noted that method 220 can include many other steps. For example, method 220 can include a step of positioning a shelf so it extends through the inner volume of the support structure, wherein the shelf is used to carry a power supply. Openings for a bracket can also be formed through the support structure. The openings are positioned to receive bolts extending through a bracket, wherein the bracket is used to hold the power supply to the support structure.

The embodiments of the invention described herein are exemplary and numerous modifications, variations and rearrangements can be readily envisioned to achieve substantially equivalent results, all of which are intended to be embraced within the spirit and scope of the invention.