When the polls are open, electors will present themselves to the poll workers for the purpose of voting. There are five basic steps for each voter: checking registration; checking identification; voter signing a poll list; clerk recording voter’s name; and the act of voting. In addition, there are some general rules governing the conduct of the polling place.
Step One – Checking Registration
Before allowing a person to vote, poll workers must determine that he or she is a qualified elector in that precinct. For most voters the process is quite simple because their names appear on the list of registered voters. Whenever a prospective voter’s name does not appear on the list, additional steps are required to determine eligibility. The various steps which may be used in checking registration are outlined below:
Step Two – Checking Identification
Voters must present one of the following forms of ID before they can vote:
A photo identification, such as:
An original or photocopy of one of the following:
Without one of these forms of identification, a voter is permitted to:
Step Three – Signing the Poll List
All voters must sign a poll list unless they are illiterate or disabled, in which case assistance may be provided. Poll lists are provided in the election supplies. The lists are usually printed in the form of booklets with numbered lines on each page.
In primary elections there will be separate lists for each party. The poll list may contain a pledge of support for the party’s nominees, and by signing the poll list the voter is also signing the pledge. Electors may vote only in the primary of the party whose poll list they sign. When constitutional amendments are voted on during a primary, there should also be a poll list for persons who wish to vote only on the amendments.
Assistance in signing the poll list may be required by voters who are disabled or illiterate. In the case of a physical handicap, a poll worker writes the voter’s name on the poll list, and then signs his or her own name on the same line.
In the case of illiteracy, the voter makes his or her mark on the list, a poll worker writes the voter’s name beside it, then the worker signs his or her own name on the same line as a witness.
To obtain assistance, the voter must specifically request assistance by identifying the person from whom assistance is sought including a poll official, and by signing in the appropriate column of the voters’ poll list. The person providing assistance shall sign in the appropriate column on the same line as the assisted voter. By so signing, the assistant shall attest to the statement printed on the form that he or she is not the voter’s employer, an agent of the employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s union. If the voter is unable to sign the poll list, the person giving assistance will write the voter’s name in the appropriate column and sign his or her name in the appropriate column.
Step Four – Recording Voter’s Name
The poll list clerk also records each voter’s name on a separate poll list, which is often titled “Names of Voters” but which will be referred to here as the “clerk’s poll list.” The clerk’s poll list must match the voters’ poll list in the number and order of names. Having a clerk record names ensures that voters can be identified in case of a contest, even if their signatures are illegible.
Step Five – The Act of Voting
Several steps are required for an elector to vote. Generally the voter marks the ballot by marking next to the candidates name in a box adjacent to the candidates name. However, every precinct is equipped with an electronic ballot machine with touch-the-screen computer style balloting to electronically record a vote on a ballot that is later fed into the ballot counter. Specific instructions are included in the election supplies.
Voter Receiving the Ballot. After the voter’s registration has been established and he or she has signed the poll list, the poll list clerk will take a ballot from the ballot package and give it to the voter.
Marking the Ballot. The voter goes to a suitable area in the polling place and marks the ballot. Depending upon the type of tabulating equipment used, the voter will either mark a designated space next to the candidate’s name or use one of the options listed below. These options may be used in completing the ballot in general elections only.
Voter Instruction or Assistance. Follow the previously described procedures for documenting assistance. The person who gives assistance will enter the booth with the voter and must mark the ballot as the voter wishes.
Time to Vote. Poll workers must make every effort to give each voter adequate time to vote. If there is a line waiting, poll workers may use the following procedures to prevent long delays:
Completing the Ballot
When the voter has completed the ballot, the voter must deposit the ballot in the electronic voting machine.
Leaving the Polling Place
The voter must promptly leave the polling place and not return except to render assistance at the request of another voter.