November 4, 2008

US Voting Step-by-Step

Posted in Outside Malaysia tagged at 4:57 pm by egalitaria

Election Station in Creek County

Election Station in Creek County

Early voting in small little Creek County is in full gear. Their polling stations are a far cry from the schools that we use. Instead, it is housed in a cozy little office of the County Creek Election Board. Oklahoma has the advantage of having a unified voting system, which means all 77 counties use the same method. The next series of photos shows how a person actually votes in this particular State.

Voter Registration

Voter Registration

Voter Registration can run all the way up to 24 days before the election.

Signing up, Collecting Ballot and Pencil

Signing up, Collecting Ballot and Pencil

They bring their voter cards, sign up at the desk to collect their respective ballots and pencils.

Voters can opt for Straight Voting

Voters can opt for Straight VotingIn some States, they have the option of voting "straight" Republican or Democrat. But if they decide to Vote Straight Democrat but a Republican individual candidate elsewhere, the individual vote supercedes the Straight Vote. (Don't ask me why the Republicans have an eagle and Democrats a rooster - apparently they've always had these logos since 1907 in Oklahoma).Filling out Ballots

They then fill out their long ballot sheets in little booths like these.

Inserting Ballots into Machines to be read

Inserting Ballots into Machines to be read

Oklahoma uses a machine that will read the ballots immediately. If there is a mistake in the ballot, the machine will shoot it out to be redone, or for the voter to take a fresh ballot. Mistakes in other candidates does not mean the correctly filled out items will be disregarded. The information is captured in a data pack, which is uploaded onto a computer, and sent to the State Election Board, the coordinating body of all County Election Boards.

Again, important to note that all States have their respective Election Boards. There is a Federal Election Commission, but they play a minimal role. In the past they have ensured that the principle of non-discrimination is lived up to, within the State Election Boards (especially in the Southern states where blacks were not allowed to be registered in the 1970s).

One problem that needs to be resolved is the inconsistency of voting rules across the country. There would be major resistance to the introduction of a consolidated methodology, however, since states value their jurisdictions and changing would symbolise greater Federal power. Laws also stipulate that Social Security numbers cannot be used in conjunction with electoral rolls – Social Security is controlled Federally, whereas electoral rolls are held by the State. As a result, there may be some confusion, even in this election.

As a result of the 2000 Florida confusion, it is even more imperative that systems are better sorted, especially in important swing states. Important swing states to look out for: Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Indiana, Minnesota. Coming up tomorrow..

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