Uses for "Scantron" machines outside of education?

Scantrons are a staple of educational technology - and are still with us in the digital age.

Does anyone use a scantron machine outside of education?

It’s a type of optical mark recognition reader that used to be more common. Other electronic devices have minimized their use. I don’t know any particular use outside of education right now, but they were once in use for taking orders in restaurants and similar retail applications, and for conducting surveys.

When I lived in Madison, Wisconsin in the mid-90s they went from the mechanical “pull the lever” style voting machines to Scantron-style paper ballots. All of this was before the 2000 hanging-chad electionpocalypse. Where I live in San Antonio now the voting machines are the no-paper-trail touch screen style machines. Anyone still using Scantron sheets to vote?

There areoptical scan voting systems.

Good point. We use those, totally forgot.

Illinois still uses an optical reader, “fill in the dot” style ballot. I suppose it gives a quick vote tally but also provides a paper backup versus purely electronic voting.

It also depends on how broadly you define “education”. A workplace might use them in a training program, for instance, in much the same way that a school does: Does that count as “education”?

It’s frankly the best voting method - easy, accurate, & audit-able (solid paper trail).

Before the internet became more widely accessible (mid-90’s) I participated in a broad NCAA tournament pool that used scantron to enter your picks. There were about 5,000 entries into this particular office pool at $20 a pop. Total pool was around $100,000, paid out to the top 20 winners, with the top winner getting about $25,000. Sadly I never made it into the top 20. One year made it to 25th place.

Pretty sure many state lottery forms are optical mark recognition readers today.

We’ve used them at political party endorsing conventions to vote on party platform planks.
But this is partly because the conventions are often held in schools, and we have access to their scantron machines.

(By the way, those ‘answer’ forms that are used in the machines are extremely expensive! Probably because the company has a monopoly on them, and can charge whatever prices they wish.)

I’m sure the cost has more to do with the fact that you don’t want an extra thousand of them to accidentally end up in the public’s hands. That means a very high level of security to verify production, storage, sales and disposal numbers. You’re not paying for paper; you’re paying for internal controls and audits.

I know that Optical Mark Recognition(OMR)* is the the preferred method for scoring the MMPI (as opposed to manual scoring). Here are some other uses, and some more (click on “Solutions”).

*Basically, Scantron is to OMR what Kleenex is to facial tissues.

Huh. Must vary by district. At the very least, the last couple elections I voted in here in Chicago were electronic, but I seem to recall being given a choice in either 2010 or 2008.

Here in Metro Detroit the election polls use some sort of optical recognition of a marked paper ballot. Like others, I don’t understand why it’s not the de facto standard, as it leaves a perfect audit/recount trail, but can still be read initially electronically.

Why not? They aren’t anything special, just a printed answer sheet to be filled in by pencil. I’ve got half a box of leftovers sitting out in my garage.

I don’t recall any of that.

I just called them up and ordered the ones we needed, and they mailed them out. The only checking they did was about our credit. Heck, now you can buy them online via Amazon.

I think the only " internal controls and audits" are checks on their company profits.

You just gave the reason – “it leaves a perfect audit/recount trail”. There are people/organizations who don’t want that.

Plus the other kinds of machines let those in power play games: since you need a machine to vote, send plenty of machines to the precincts which mostly vote for your party, but only a few to the precincts where the residents vote for the other party. Thus there are long waiting lines there, and people leave rather than wait hours to vote. You can’t do that with the optical scan machines; all you need to vote is the ballot and a pen/pencil*, you can’t under-supply certain precincts to force long waiting lines.

*Not even electricity.
We once had a power failure for a few hours on election day in one of our precincts; people kept right on voting, by candlelight. (The polling place was in a church basement, so there were plenty of candles easily available.)

And there are ;lots of companies who make money selling the other kinds of machines oppose the optical scan machines.

The Army had a bunch of yearly surveys like unit climate surveys that used scantron machines. These are surveys to measure unit morale and command effectiveness. All of these types of surveys may now be internet based but it the change over was relatively recent and I’m not sure if it is complete.

Optical voting is also useful, and used, for absentee ballots or other similar voting by mail.