American voting system explained

October 17, 2008 12:00 am

, BALTIMORE, October 17 – Americans will go to the ballot on November 4 to pick their next President.

And the success of an election in any country depends on the electoral process which is very crucial to ensure that no irregularities take place.

Capital News spoke to Marvin ‘Doc’ Cheatham, 7th president Baltimore City to explain the electoral process in the United States of America.

Q: How does the electoral process work here in the United States?
A: There is a national guideline that is followed. First of all you have to be a United States citizen and secondly you have to be over 18 years of age by the time of the general elections.

 In this case anyone who will be 18 years on or before November 4th can register as a voter. But also each State has its own specific guidelines or additional requirements as well as different voting hours. For example, in Maryland, the voting hours are between 7a.m and 8p.m.

You can vote from another polling location that is outside your area but using a different kind of ballot called a provisional ballot which means you may not be able to vote for every thing that applies to your area.

Q: Is there a maximum number of polling centers for each state?
A: It’s not so much about the maximum as it is the minimum. Each state is broken down into counties, wards and districts where the number of registered voters determines the number of voting machines.

Q: What is an absentee ballot and who is eligible?
A: This is where for some reason you cannot get to the polling place, on the material day may be you are going away on vacation or you are in hospital.

In such an instance, you have first to request in writing an absentee ballot to the election board and if they approve, they will send you a ballot before the Election Day which you are supposed to send or deliver back after filling no later than the end of the Election Day.

Q: How do you go about the tallying process to avoid any irregularities?
A: We hope that there will be no irregularities. We use computerized voting machines. Unfortunately it does not give the voter a copy after voting.

The tally votes are done at the end of the day and the computers, if interconnected can tally the votes simultaneously but sometimes they don’t do it that way, they tally for each machine and then add the totals at the election board.

The thing that most people don’t know is that on the election night you only get unofficial results because the actual vote counting starts 48 hours after due to the ballots that come from outside the country for those in the military.


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