Joseph P. Harris, a political scientist who invented one of the country's first automatic voting machines--a machine still in use in Los Angeles County and elsewhere--died at his home in Berkeley Wednesday. He was 88.
Harris, a retired professor at UC Berkeley, patented the widely used Harris Votamatic in 1962. The device allows votes, recorded on punch cards, to be tallied by computer rather than hand. He sold the patent rights to IBM several years later and IBM then sold licensing rights to Computer Election Services of Berkeley. The machines, first used locally in 1968, are still in use today, said Beatrice Valdez, assistant registrar for Los Angeles County. They have been modified somewhat, she added.
Harris, author of "California Politics," helped organize the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. He joined that faculty in 1941 and retired in 1963.
He had requested that donations in his name be made to the Institute of Governmental Studies.