Video:How Are Votes Counted?with Roger Weiss
Votes are cast on different ballots, each with their own system for counting. Watch this About.com video to learn more about how every single vote gets counted for U.S. elections.See Transcript
Transcript:How Are Votes Counted?
Hi I’m Roger Weiss with About.com, and today we are going to discuss how votes are counted in US elections, using information from the About.com guide site.
Votes are Cast on Different Ballots
Once the final vote is cast at a polling station, votes are delivered to a central counting facility. There, election officials, overseen by certified observers, begin tallying the votes. Ballots are treated differently based on their type (paper, punch card, or computerized) with each type having its own system of tabulation and auditing.
Counting Votes on Paper Ballots
Paper ballots must be manually read and the votes counted by election officials, sometimes by more than one official in order to ensure accuracy. If there is ever confusion or a vote appears unclear, an election judge must either decide how the voter intended to vote or declare that vote invalid.
Counting Votes on Punch Card Ballots
Punch Card Ballots are counted with the use of an electronic punch card reader. Election officials count the number of ballots cast and then use the punch card reader to scan the ballots for votes. The machine records the votes and prints out the totals. If the totals on the print out don’t match the manual ballot count, an election judge can order a recount, requiring election officials to use either the punch card reader again or manually read the votes.
Counting Votes on Computerized Ballots
Computerized ballots record totals as voters cast their votes and either submit the information electronically to a central counting facility via a telephone, internet, or computer network or record the information onto a drive or disk which is then manually delivered to the central counting facility. There are currently a number of systems in place addressing possible auditing issues and ensuing that each vote is counted as it is intended.
Once each central counting station has calculated its totals, the numbers are added to the totals of other counting stations delivering the final vote total for the election.
Votes May Be Recounted if Warranted
In close races or if there exist any problems with voting equipment recounts may be called for by the candidates or by state mandate. As with an election judge calling for a recount, these recounts may be done electronically or manually.
The process by which votes are cast and counted is constantly being examined and improved to make sure that votes are counted correctly.
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