During November of 2000, the U.S. became obsessed with The Chad.
No, although “Charlie’s Angels” was released in November of 2000, we don’t mean the Tom Green character. We’re talking about the tiny pieces of paper removed when a hole is punched in a voting card. The small scraps that threw the country into chaos during the 2000 presidential election.
Parts of Florida used punched card ballots for voting, but if they weren’t punched all the way through, the tabulating machines couldn’t tell if a vote was for George W. Bush or Al Gore. When the results ended up super close, a recount was necessary, which meant examining all the uncertain ballots by hand.
And that’s when the country was introduced to The Chad. We even learned there is more than one type! There’s the dimpled chad, which is still attached at all four corners but has a slight indentation where a voter may have intended to vote. The pregnant chad is the same thing, except with a bigger baby bump. A tri-chad is attached to the ballot at three corners, while a swinging chad is attached to the ballot at two corners, like a doggie door. Then there is the infamous hanging chad, which is attached to the ballot by only one corner.
The hanging chad became the symbol of the 2000 election, spawning countless jokes on late-night television and even Halloween costumes.
But on December 12, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to put an end to hanging chad hysteria. They handed down their ruling, which stopped the vote recount and gave the win to Bush. The decision was controversial, leaving many questions swirling around about the election results.
Fifteen years later, we’re honoring the infamy of these tiny bits of paper by identifying Chads in YA novels – let’s just hope they don’t cause as much trouble as the voting ballot chads.
“Fall into Darkness” by Christopher Pike
Sharon is on trial for killing her best friend, but Sharon saw Ann kill herself by jumping from a cliff. Even weirder, the police can’t find Ann’s body. And that’s just the start of the wacky twists and turns. The Chad in this book is in love with the maybe-dead Ann, and he’s also totally cray cray. We’ll label him a hanging chad because he’s barely hanging onto his sanity. Plus there’s a lot of hanging from cliffs in this book.
“Tilt” by Ellen Hopkins
Three teens deal with life-changing events that cause their worlds to tilt. The huge event in Harley’s life is that her dad has a new bae who has a totally hot son named Chad. Harley wants Chad to notice her, so she changes up the way she looks and acts, which attracts the attention of an uber sleazy guy. We’ll call this Chad a swinging chad because he’s like a doorway to trouble for Harley.
“Dunk” by David Lubar
Chad is having a rough summer: his best friend is super sick, he’s too chicken to talk to the girl he’s crushing on, and he has a deadbeat dad. Then he meets the boardwalk “bozo” – the clown who sits inside the dunk tank and trolls people into taking a shot – and decides he wants to be one, too. During his training, he learns the difference between laughter that cuts and laughter that heals. We’re dubbing this Chad a pregnant chad because the term pregnant chad is freakin’ funny, just like this Chad.
“Blue is for Nightmares” by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Stacey inherited psychic powers from her Wiccan grandmother, but these powers are a drag because sometimes her terrible nightmares come true. Now she is dreaming that her bestie Drea will be brutally murdered, and she has to find a way to stop it. Complicating things is her crush on Drea’s boyfriend Chad, who seems like he might like her, too. This Chad shall be tri-chad, since he’s one corner of a bad-news love triangle.
“Rogue” by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Kiara has Asperger’s syndrome and is not the best at making friends. In fact, she kind of sucks at it due to her tendency to lash out when frustrated. So when Chad moves in across the street, she hopes she has a chance to start fresh. But Chad is hiding terrible secrets about his home life, and Kiara is so desperate to keep him as a friend that she agrees not to tell, which puts her new friend in danger. This Chad is definitely a hanging chad because he is barely hanging on due to the horrible things in his life.
“A Step Toward Falling” by Cammie McGovern
Emily witnesses a developmentally disabled student being sexually assaulted at a football game but is too scared to help. As punishment, the school makes her perform community service at a class for the disabled. While there, she falls for another volunteer named Chad. Meanwhile, Emily struggles with her guilt about that night and tries to find ways to make amends. This Chad is designated a swinging chad because he’s a doorway for Emily to learn more about herself.
“Gamer Girl” by Mari Mancusi
Maddy has just moved to a new school, where the popular clique immediately targets her as Freak Girl. Even worse, one of these jerks is total hottie Chad, who she can’t help crushing on. To escape her sucky life, she immerses herself in an online game where she can pretend to be a beautiful and magical elf. When she meets a guy within the game worthy of a real-life romance, she must find the courage to confront her real-life problems. We’re classifying this Chad as a dimpled chad because dimples are cute, just like this Chad.
And if you still need more Chad in your life, we leave you with this: