John Leo
Now, more than ever, it is important for all Americans to know their chads. As a public service, here is a voter's guide:

THE PROPERLY PUSHED-THROUGH CHAD

This is the boring, all-too-familiar chad found in every election district, even in Florida. Since the pushed-through chad leaves so little room for interpretation, it is generally scorned by advanced chadologists, though most freely concede that it should be counted along with more challenging kinds of chad.

SWINGING CHAD, HANGING CHAD, TRI-CHAD

These are chads attached to the ballot by one corner (a hanging chad), two corners (a swinging chad) or three corners (a tri-chad). One striking phenomenon among cornered chads is that they tend to move up in class in the days following an election: a tri-chad may become a swinger, and a swinger may become a hanger.

THE FOUR-CORNER OR MORON'S CHAD

A chad attached by all four corners with no evidence of being marked or pushed is known as a moron's chad, one of the most perplexing kinds of chad to assign to a candidate. Only two chadologists in the world, both at work this week in Palm Beach, are able to properly interpret and assign the moron's chad.

THE SUNLIT CHAD

Whether attached by one, two, three or all four corners, chads may be readily counted if daylight can be spotted when the ballot is held up for inspection. Since holding the ballot up in the air while squinting at it is the only known photo opportunity in all chadology, the sunlit chad is the most familiar of all chads to TV viewers.

THE DIMPLED CHAD, THE PREGNANT CHAD

Many beginning chadologists confuse the dimpled chad with the pregnant chad, and some even argue that they are one and the same. But there's a world of difference between getting dimpled and getting pregnant.

A dimpled chad is created by a voter who unsuccessfully struggles with all of his or her might to push the stylus through a stubbornly resisting chad. The result of this stand-off between voter and chad is a sharp pinprick or dimple. A pregnant chad, on the other hand, maintains a rounded profile, of the sort that might be created by a coin, dentures or even the edge of an aluminum walker.

People who vote this way are telling us something. But what? Instead of being negative (criticizing the voter or even trying to disallow the ballot), we must discover the feelings embodied in the decision to produce a chad pregnancy.

THE MEANDERING DIMPLED CHAD


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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