Voting in a presidential election is one of the most important privileges of citizenship; it helps to ensure that your views are represented, and to maintain a healthy democracy. In an election, votes are cast though a variety of measures, which can vary from state to state and even from county to county.

Electronic Ballots

Electronic ballots have become increasingly popular since the early 1990s. With electronic ballots, voters are presented a list of options on a computerized screen. The party associated with each candidate is represented next to the candidate's name. A voter registers his vote by pushing a button next to the name of his preferred candidate. The system then electronically records the voter's selection and the vote is reported to a computerized tallying system. Voters who choose a write-in candidate may type the name of the candidate in an designated area on-screen.

Punch Cards

Another common type of ballot used in presidential elections is the punch card ballot. When voting by punch card, voters are presented with a card, usually made of cardboard, that contains a list of presidential candidates along with a list of ballot questions relating to a variety of political issues that are up for vote. Each candidate and issue choice is assigned a separate number. Voters cast their choices by punching a hole next to the number of the candidate and of their preference on each issue. The votes are then tallied by voting officials and reported to the elections commission.

Optical Scans

Optical scan is another, more high-tech form of electronic ballot. With optical scan, voters are presented with an electronic screen that includes the names of the candidates up for presidential election. Using a special black marker, voters register their choice by marking a box or circle located next to the name of the candidate. The computerized system then registers their vote by locating the dark marks on the screen and automatically calculating the number of votes for each candidate. The votes are then tallied and submitted to the elections commission for that state.

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