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 Post subject: Question about US voting
PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:41 am 
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So I've been following US politics more than I probably should. Some aspects of the voting system are hard to wrap your head around if you're not used to them -- such as the fact that people have to register to vote, rather than, you know, just getting your voting card sent to you because you are eligible to vote -- but recent news items about Florida have left me rather flabbergasted. Apparently, votes are being rejected because of mismatched signatures. Is it really the case that in US elections, people have to sign their ballots? Meaning that it's not a secret whom you voted for, but other people -- election officials, at the very least -- can actually check this? Or am I misunderstanding the news?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:02 am 
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You are right. It is not worth the effort.


Last edited by fos1 on Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:06 am 
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[Removed after fos1 removed the content of his post.]


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:01 am 
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I believe with mail-in ballots, the voter has to sign the outside of the envelope - as you'd sign any legal document saying "this is all true, I'm not trying to commit fraud here" etc. Then when the ballot is accepted, the contents of the envelope with the votes, which are anonymous, are added to the pile and are no longer associated with the signature. If an election official *really wanted* to read your name and know what senator you voted for they probably could, but by the sheer volume of stuff they are hand-processing, that's not really feasible.

The electoral process in the US is certainly a mess, and I'm hoping that it gets fixed soon. One of the Democrats' goals to start is automatic voter registration.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:43 am 
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Quote:
I believe with mail-in ballots, the voter has to sign the outside of the envelope


Right. This also applies to early voting (which I did this year because of travel plans).

US elections are a mess, and the messiest part is that the rules are entirely local. Different states or even different towns are free to set their own voting policies. So reforms have to be fought for drop by drop.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:52 am 
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Where I live (in the US, but not in Florida), when you arrive at the polling place, you have go to a check-in table, and sign your name in a book. Then you wait in line for a voting booth to open up, and when it's your turn, you go in the booth and vote. You don't sign the ballot itself.

But yeah, I think the process can vary depending on where you live and if you are doing a mail-in ballot.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:34 am 
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The part that stupified me when I learned it is that some areas do not bother counting the mail-in ballots unless they are needed. It makes sense, but it's a little demoralizing.

For example, if in a local election they receive 100 mail-in ballots, and Candidate A beats Candidate B by 1000 votes, they don't even need to open the mail-in ballots because even if all 100 mail-in votes are for Candidate B it doesn't matter. If the vote totals are 5050/5000, they count the mail-in votes.

Where I think it gets sketch is when partisan poll officials are like "CNN CALLED IT ELECTION OVER - SHRED EVERYTHING" at 11:30 on election night when their candidate is ahead. Elections have been getting flipped all week in California, where they will count their ballots and certify when they are good and ready - which is probably how it should be everywhere.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:05 am 
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As everyone else said, there's nowhere where voters have to sign the ballots themselves. So at least in theory the vote itself will always be secret.

And as folks have pointed out, the rules vary from place to place. When I go in to vote (which I usually do on election day itself, as the polling place is my children's school so I'm there anyway), I just tell the poll worker who I am, they look me up and check me off, and I vote. No signature required. My state is also overwhelmingly white. States with larger minority populations are more likely to pass laws to make voting harder and less convenient, and the impacts of those fall disproportionately on minorities.

The issue with ballots being rejected for mismatched signatures is very controversial, as the people who are throwing ballots out for signature mismatches don't know what they're doing. The law about signature match in Florida has been partially but not completely overturned.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:47 pm 
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bg wrote:
Where I live (in the US, but not in Florida), when you arrive at the polling place, you have go to a check-in table, and sign your name in a book. Then you wait in line for a voting booth to open up, and when it's your turn, you go in the booth and vote. You don't sign the ballot itself.


Yes, this is the way it is in my state as well. Sometimes I've told them my name for them to look up in the book but most of the time I just show them my voter registration card with my name on it because some people get confused trying to say or spell my last name.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:04 pm 
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bg wrote:
Where I live (in the US, but not in Florida), when you arrive at the polling place, you have go to a check-in table, and sign your name in a book. Then you wait in line for a voting booth to open up, and when it's your turn, you go in the booth and vote. You don't sign the ballot itself.


It's the same in my state except you have to show a photo ID to prove it's really you. If you don't have a passport, driver's license, or college ID, you can get a voter ID at the DMV for free. The burden of taking time off of work to stand in line at the DMV or figuring out transportation to get there discriminates against the poor. The photo ID law was enacted within the last 10 years with the intention of voter supression, yet the courts let the law stand. :cry:

This year I did in-person absentee at the local library because I was visiting my mom in Florida on election day. I accompanied her to the polling place. Process was much the same as in my home state. Did not witness any shenanigans.

Poll workers generally tend to be mostly senior age and mostly women where I'm from. I call them the little old ladies of democracy and they patriotically defend our country and our freedom by overseeing the elections. I get teary-eyed just thinking about them.

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