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Old 04-25-2016, 09:48 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 75,921
Quoth aldiboronti:

Englishman here and I share the confusion of the OP. Certainly some of the replies have been helpful but surely polling can't be a matter of 'Come one, come all', 'Vote early, vote often'? In other words wouldn't there have to be some control over the business? What's to prevent multiple voting, voting by foreign nationals, etc. I saw the reply saying that the problem was negligible but how would they even know how big the problem was without some form of control?
There is some control over the business. As always, the details vary from state to state, but it usually goes something like this:
First, you register to vote, and provide whatever documentation your state requires for that. You might at this point be asked to declare a party, but that at most determines what primary you can vote in, and maybe gets you on that party's mailing list: You're still free to vote for whomever you want. You also always have the option of declaring no party.

When you register, you're assigned a polling place geographically. These are often schools, but can be just about anywhere. Here, my polling place is in city hall, but when I was in Montana, it changed from being the local office of the fish and wildlife commission to being the university's football stadium. I've also heard of church halls and social clubs being used.

On election day, you show up to your polling place, and introduce yourself to the nice folks at the table. They look up your name in a big book of everyone registered to vote at that place, and you sign next to your name. They take some sort of measure to verify you're who you say you are: This can be anything from showing photo ID, to comparing signatures, to showing a utility bill that was addressed to you at your registered address, to them recognizing you personally as a neighbor.

They hand you a ballot, and you go over to a little both to privately fill it out (or maybe there's a machine of some sort in the booth, which you use). If it's a paper ballot, then you put it in privacy sleeve so passers-by can't see which way you voted. You might have to tear off a perforated tab at the bottom with a serial number on it, so they can keep track of which ballots have been issued. You then carry it over to a scanning machine and feed it in.

Then you walk back past the table with the friendly people, they hand you a sticker that says "I voted" that you can stick on your shirt if you want, and you go on your way.

Note that there is always a registry so that the same person can't vote in the same name twice, and there's always some means of verifying identity. To vote twice, you'd have to impersonate someone else, and vote as them. And to vote as someone else, you'd need to be able to spoof whatever your state requires as proof of identity.