Name That Invention!

  • Phonograph. Check.
  • Light bulb. Check.
  • Stock ticker. Check.
  • Motion picture camera. Check.

These are some of the best-known innovations of Thomas Alva Edison, who held 1,093 U.S. patents.

So what was his first patented invention? 

The electric vote recorder: Edison applied for this first patent in the fall of 1868. He was 21.

Photo credit: Thomas A. Edison Papers, Rutgers University

The patent was issued the following summer. Edison’s vote recorder used electric current and a switching device to record ballots. U.S. congressmen watched a demonstration of the invention and saw first-hand how it eliminated time-consuming roll calls and hand tallying by enabling yea and nay votes to be quickly recorded and automatically totaled.

The invention worked like a charm but legislators took a pass. They liked exercising their oratory during roll calls, and the occasional filibuster, plus the lengthy process provided opportunity to work the floor to sway votes and cut deals. 

One congressman remarked, “If there is any invention on earth that we don’t want down here, that is it.”

Not everyone stuck with the old ways. Electronic voting machines came into use in general elections in the U.S. in 1881–but the U.S. Senate still uses the roll call method.

Edison once said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

Voting technology has come a long way. Online voting systems are now widely used in the hospitality and financial services industries, and by HOAs, unions, educational institutions, franchises, legal and other professional associations. As with any critical digital communications these days, physical and network security, redundant systems, SOC 2 compliance, encryption and authentication tools are now essential to electronic and online voting.

ExpressoVote’s Innovative Technologies Enhance Voting Systems

Nordis Technologies is one of the companies that has advanced Edison’s original voting machine idea with technological innovation: Our ExpressoVote application offers a streamlined, secure and cost-effective online nomination and voting process for elections. Corporate users, condominium associations, HOAs and cooperatives look to ExpressoVote’s digital communication capabilities and analytics to increase voter turnout and satisfaction and enable real-time results reporting.

Something else Thomas Edison said directs our work every day: “There’s a way to do it better – find it.”

Let us know if we can help you do things better with ExpressoVote. Drop us a line at

About the Author

Bryan joined Nordis Technologies in 2016 to manage and grow the company’s already-large vacation ownership client base. He also is responsible for business development and market expansion in the healthcare and financial services markets. Before joining Nordis, Bryan spent more than 21 years with Interval International, a leading global provider of vacation ownership services. Bryan graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor of science in political science.