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  • We all have our morning routines

  • And lately, mine starts here:

  • with an obsessive daily check of the status of my absentee ballot

  • Okay, so it looks like the county board of elections received my ballot on October 27,

  • but it says they still need to process my voter ID envelope and verify the signature..

  • Even before the coronavirus struck, more Americans each election were either voting early or

  • voting by mail

  • But in 2020, these numbers are expected to skyrocket.

  • The way Americans choose their President is complicatedeven in a relatively normal

  • election year

  • In 2020, voters are facing a pandemic,

  • an underfunded postal service

  • and the closure of polling locations in battleground states like Georgia, Ohio,

  • Arizona, and Texas.

  • It's enough to make you want to just tune out until it's over.

  • But once you know how votes are counted, you can understand why yours counts.

  • In most states, there are four ways Americans can vote

  • in person before election day, on election day, mailing an absentee ballot, or placing

  • it in a secure dropbox.

  • Each of the more than 3,000 counties in the US has its own rules

  • but voting in person generally looks something like this:

  • When they show up to vote, election officials check each voter's name and address

  • to make sure they're registered, and voting in the right place

  • These employees always work in teams of two

  • and both workers can't be from the same political party.

  • Voters cast their ballots in private

  • either by filling out a paper ballot 

  • or using an electronic voting machine.

  • Election officials collect the completed paper ballot

  • They check the voter's name off the list, and place the ballot in a secure box.

  • At polling sites with electronic voting machines

  • a computer records two separate pieces of information

  • the voter's name and the date they voted, and their vote choices.

  • Separating names and vote choices ensures that voters preferences stay secret.

  • The machine also prints out a receipt with just that first piece of information

  • Election officials check the voter's name off the list, and place the receipt in a secure

  • box.

  • Step one of the process looks pretty much the same

  • whether you're voting early or on Election Day.

  • For those voting absentee, it looks a little different.

  • In some states, every single registered voter gets an absentee ballot in the mail.

  •   In most states, voters have to fill out a

  • request form like this one to get a ballot mailed to them.

  • Once they fill out their ballot, voters can either mail it to their county board of elections,

  • drop it off in person, or place it in an official ballot drop box.

  • Before they can be counted, absentee ballots have to go through an extra step: verification.

  • Election officialsalways working in those bi-partisan teamsscan the sealed envelopes

  • into a computer system.

  • Next, they check the signature on the ballot envelope against the signature in the state's

  • voter registration database.

  • In Missouri, voters also need to get their ballot envelope stamped and signed by a notary

  • public

  • Other states require a witness's signature.

  •    If an envelope is missing one of these requirements,

  • the whole ballot is invalid.

  • Most states start this whole verifying process weeks before Election Day.

  • But Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two crucial battleground states

  • don't start verifying mail-in ballots until Election Day

  • AnotherMichigandoesn't start until the day before.

  • Once the envelopes are verified, election officials unseal them and store the ballots

  • in a secure box until it's time to start counting.

  • All paper ballotsfrom both absentee and in-person votingare tabulated using a

  • machine

  • The data is stored on a memory card, and the counted ballots go back in their secure box

  • Election officials combine the counts from the paper ballots and the electronic voting

  • machines,

  • and the individual polling places report those numbers to the county board of electionsー 

  • which reports them to the state board of elections.

  • At both the county and state level, members of one political party can't have a majority.

  • On election day, polling places and county boards are 

  • continuously counting and reporting new numbers every hour.

  • State boards of elections typically post the counts online after the polls close

  • and keep updating them as more numbers come in

  • It takes a while for all these votes to be countedsometimes hours, sometimes days

  • When you hear this on TV on election night — "And look at all these wins. we're projecting for Hillary Clinton" —

  • That doesn't mean all the votes in that state have been counted

  • News networks make projections based on a certain percentage of votesand they don't

  • always get it right:

  • A big call to make CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column

  • ...standby, standby...CNN is moving our earlier declaration of Florida back to thetoo

  • close to callcolumn.

  • News networks make a lot of money marketingelection nightlike it's the Super Bowl,

  • but there's something to be said for adjusting our expectations a littleespecially during

  • a pandemic.

  • After all, the law in most states give state boards of election weeks to make sure their

  • vote counts are complete and accurate before certifying them asofficial.”

  • I'm going to keep checking up on my ballot every morning.

  • And reminding my friends to do the same.

  • But on election night, I'd rather leave the projections to the pundits and rest up.

  • Democracy is a marathon, not a sprint.

We all have our morning routines

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B2 ballot election voting absentee voter envelope

How the US counts votes

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/03
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