The word "ballot" came into the English language more than 200 years before the birth of the United States.

According to "Webster's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary," ballot was first used in 1549. "Ballotta" is the Italian word for a small ball used in secret voting. The practice of using little balls for secret voting goes back to ancient Greece where jurors voted with different balls for either acquittal or condemnation.Today, a ballot is a sheet of paper used to cast a secret vote. The word also applies to the whole system of secret voting, even when machines are used.