Time To Vote!
You Know What Time It Is
The first step to this process is registration.
Your Vote Counts
Ever single vote counts! In 2000 Florida, the election was decided by just a couple hundred votes. Imagine what your vote could accomplish!
One of the very first steps to voting is registration! Read below to find out more.
This is a sample ballot. When you go to the polling place on Election Day, you will see something just like this!
Your Vote Counts
The Voting Process
- 18 years or older
- A U.S. citizen
- A resident of the county
Steps to Voting
- The location of voting is called a "polling place", which are in public buildings such as schools, libraries, and fire departments. They open early in the morning until around 7 or 8 pm. Once inside the polling place, you'll write your name and address on an application form at the clerk's table. The clerk will pass the application to a "challenger", who will check to make sure it matches your registration form. After this, you will then go to voting booth!
- You will cast your vote on a ballot, which is a list of the candidates. Your ballot is cast using a voting machine. There are several different kinds of machines, but each one has a ballot with the candidates names listed according to their political party.
- You have the option to cast a secret ballot. It is your right to make electoral choices without fear of interference.
- If you aren't able to get to the polls on Election Day, have no fear! You are able to cast an absentee ballot ahead of time. To do this you must request an absentee ballot from your local election board at some point before the election.
- After the polls close, election workers count the votes at the polling place and send the results to the election board. The election board then counts the results for the entire county. The board then sends the results to the state canvassing authority, who certifies the election of the winner a few days later.
Who Votes and Who Doesn't?
Some people would be willing to vote but do not meet the requirements or haven't registered after changing their address.
Others, however, do not see the purpose. They might:
- Think that none of the candidates represent their feelings on any issues
- Think their vote will not count (not true!)
- Have no interest at all
The people who do vote share many characteristics. They usually have a positive attitude towards government and generally have more education. They also realize:
- Voting gives an opportunity to choose their government leaders
- Allows citizens to express opinions on public issues
Straight Ticket vs. Split Ticket
A straight ticket means that you are voting for all of the candidates in one political party. Many voting machines all you to choose this option to save time. Note that if you pick a straight ticket, you should really support all of the candidates in this party!
A split ticket means that you are voting for some candidates in one party and some candidates in another. You could even decide to cast a write-in!
Whichever kind of ballot you choose, be sure that you support every candidate that you pick.
- 15th Amendment: No one may be denied the right to vote by race. This allowed newly freed African American males to vote.
- 17th Amendment: This amendment allowed for citizens to directly vote senators into office.
- 19th Amendment: No one could be denied the right to vote by gender. This gave way to women's suffrage!
- 23rd Amendment: This amendment allowed residents of the District of Columbia to vote! DC now has 3 electoral college votes.
- 24th Amendment: This amendment banned poll taxes! This allowed for people to vote without having to worry about the cost.
- 26th Amendment: Surprisingly, the voting age didn't become 18 until this amendment was passed in 1971.
These amendments allowed for the voting system to become what it is today.
U.S. Suffrage Timeline
1920- Nineteenth Amendment: No one can be denied the right to vote by gender.
1961- Twenty-Third Amendment: Allows residents of the District of Columbia to vote.
1971- Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Lowered the voting age to 18.
2006- Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006: Prohibits the use of tests to deny the right to vote.