2 Qualifying to VoteVoting is the right to choose who will run the gov’t. It is also a civic responsibility. If you don’t vote, you hand over your share of political power to other voters who many not share your views.
3 continuedIn the nation’s early years, most voters were white, adult male property owners. Today the Constitution forbids any state to deny the right to vote because of race, color, gender or age (if the person is at least 18 years old). An exception is a person in prison.
4 continuedTo be eligible to vote, you must be at least 18, a resident of the state for a specified time and a U.S. citizen. In most states, you must also be registered to vote.You must register by the deadline set by your state. You can register in person at a county office. In some states, you may register by mail. The National Voter Registration Act allows voters to register when they renew their driver’s licenses.
5 continuedRegistration forms ask your name, address, age and often your party preference. If you register a a Republican or Democrat, you may participate in primary elections.You must prove citizenship, address and age by showing your driver’s license or birth certificate. You will be assigned to a district. When you go to vote, election officials will check for your name on a list of voters registered in the district.
6 Steps in VotingTo vote, you go to the polling place, a location in your precinct, or voting district. You fill out and sign an application form at the clerk’s table. The clerk reads your name aloud and passes your application to a challenger’s table.
7 continuedThe challenger looks up your registration form and compares your signature to the one on your application. If they do not appear to match, the challenger may ask for more ID. When convinced, the challenger initials your application.
8 continuedYou go to the voting booth and hand the application to an election judge, who makes sure everyone can vote in secret and helps people with special needs.A ballot is the paper you use to cast your vote. It lists the candidates’ names according to their party and the office they are seeking.
9 continuedYou cast your ballot by using a voting machine. The type of machine varies from state to state. With one type you punch a hole next to a candidate’s name. With another type you use a lever.
10 continuedIf you vote for all candidates in one political party, you are voting a straight ticket. If you choose candidates from both parties, you are voting a split ticket. You may choose to cast a write-in vote by writing the name of someone not on the ballot.
11 continuedPeople away from home or too sick to get to the polls on Election Day can vote by absentee ballot. They mark the ballot and return it by mail.When polls close, election workers count the votes and take the ballots and returns, or results, to the election board. The election board compiles the count for the city or county. A few days later, the state canvassing authority certifies the winner.
12 continuedNews media and party workers conduct exit polls – asking voters leaving the polls how they voted. Specialists use the results to predict winners early. TV networks may announce winners before voters in Western time zones have voted. Critics charge that early calls may persuade many Westerners not to vote.
13 Why Your Vote MattersSources of info about candidates and issues include newspapers, TV, radio, newsmagazines and the Internet. Others include literature distributed by political parties, the League of Women Voters and interest groups.All people who are eligible to vote are called the electorate. Each vote counts.
14 continuedSome people don’t vote because they think no candidates represent their interests or think their vote will not matter. Another reason is apathy, or lack of interest.Citizens who vote share common characteristics. They generally have positive attitudes toward gov’t and citizenship. Regular voters tend to be more educated, be middle-aged and have higher incomes.
15 continuedVoting gives citizens a chance to choose their gov’t leaders. If they are dissatisfied with their past performances, they can elect new leaders. By voting they can also express their opinions on public issues.