What Are the Different Voting Methods
November 8th is approaching fast, and the Raging Patriot is hard at work. We want to ensure you have all the tools and information you need to cast your vote on election day 2022. We are going to provide you with all the nitty-gritty details of voting.
In this article, you will find all the different voting methods you, as US Citizens, have access to and the pros and cons of each. We will cover:
- Who can vote
- Ways to vote
- Different types of voting used
- How the outcomes are determined
Buckle up for a history lesson in the making. Your voting class is now in session!
Who is Eligible to Vote?
When our country began in 1776, men were the only eligible voters. It wasn’t until June 4th, 1919, that Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, allowing women the right to vote.
The law states one must be a US Citizen, be 18 years of age or older, and be registered to vote on or before Election Day. Some states also have residency requirements. To vote for the office of the President, you must reside in a US Territory.
You are currently not allowed to vote if you are not a legal US Citizen, are a felon or have had a felony conviction, are incarcerated, or are mentally incapacitated. Keep in mind each state may vary.
Different Ways to Vote
Whether you vote on Election Day or prior, three main forms of voting are used in person and allowed across all states. They are:
- Optical Scan Paper Ballot
- Direct Electronic Recording Systems (DRE) and DRE with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
- Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs)
The Optical Scan Paper Ballot is your classic paper ballot with a fill-in box or oval where voters select their preferred candidate. The ballots are scanned on-site or sent off to another facility for scanning. The majority of states subscribe to this method.
Direct Electronic Recording Systems (DRE) are computers with touchscreens that automatically record an individual’s vote on the spot. Occasionally, the DRE generates a printout. It’s called a Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). This system helps in case of a recount or audit.
Ballot Marking Device (BMD) is a combination of the other styles where a person inputs their candidate selection on a computer screen. Once complete, the voter receives a physical printout. The voter then takes their printed ballot to a scanner to be recorded.
No matter which system your state employs, once you cast your vote, your ballot is automatically recorded and tabulated. While far from perfect, this is the most secure form of voting and provides the quickest and most accurate results.
In-person voting can be done two ways, on Election Day or prior. If you are absent on Election Day, you can vote early. In 2020, early voting surged up 7% from 2016 to 26% to alleviate crowds due to COVID.
Each state determines the days and times you can partake in voting. On Election Day, if a person is in the voting line before the cutoff time, they are allowed to vote.
Absentee or Mail-In Voting
US Citizens have been allowed to vote by absentee ballot since the 1800s. Some states may require a valid excuse such as military deployment, illness, disability, travel for business or leisure, or being a student at an out-of-state college.
Rules vary by state for absentee or mail-in voting, but all states have deadlines for ballots to be postmarked or received. In 2020, a whopping 46% chose to vote absentee/mail-in. This alternative method surged due to COVID paranoia. Some states were so concerned they sent ballots to everyone.
While not perfect, voting by mail significantly increased total voter turnout in 2020. The majority of the population supports mail-in voting even though there is a partisan divide due to voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential race.
Sadly, Trump’s mail-in voter fraud claims were not substantiated, but his push to crack down on alternative voting methods enabled some states to pass voter reform laws. While Democrats vilify these changes, the facts show that most laws expand early voting rights.
Are All Votes Created Equal?
No matter how you decide to vote come November, your vote matters in the electoral system set up in your state. Your ballot is your stamp of approval for your preferred candidate. You elect the candidates that have your best interests in mind.
Most states have a simple majority where there is one declared winner, such as the office of the President. For the Presidential race, each state receives a set number of electoral college votes. These votes coincide with the total population votes in each state.
Each state receives proportional representation. It states the greater the population, the more electoral votes your state receives. Several Presidential races have been won solely by the electoral college instead of the popular vote.
Most Congressional races are also single-winner systems, except for a few. Georgia and Louisiana have a majority vote, while Alaska and Maine have rank-choice voting. Rank-choice voting can sometimes skew the clarity of an absolute majority.
Voters rank candidates in the order they choose, and a winner is declared. However, if there is no clear winner, the lowest on the party list gets deleted. Their votes then transfer to the second preferred choice. This process continues until a winner emerges. RCV is seen in local and state elections but is seeing a rise in popularity on the national level in recent years.
Proponents of RCV say it levels the playing field for all candidates. It claims no votes get wasted. Opponents say it’s too complicated and runs contrary to the democratic process. It promotes legislative moderation by allowing fringe candidates who would have never been chosen in a majority-vote setting to have a shot at winning.
The Future of Elections
While no one can predict if a “red wave” will occur this November, one thing is certain. Tensions will be high. Voters from each party will be ready to battle with their ballots from now until November 8th.
Voters will likely continue using alternative voting methods this November. Our mission as Raging Patriots and concerned citizens is to stay vigilant to any assaults on the system originally given by our Founding Fathers. We desire to keep you informed so you can help us in our mission.
That said, this concludes your mini history lesson for today! The Raging Patriot hopes you have learned a thing or two about all the different voting methods available. In addition, we hope you stay tuned to The Raging Patriot for more news, information, and up-to-the-minute details on all things election-related and more!