Is there any resource for seeing exactly what any particular jurisdiction’s ballots or voting screens will look like on election day?
What state are you in?
In Michigan for one, you can call up a sample ballot online, with all the races, all the candidates, and all the proposals.
It doesn’t look like an exact photocopy complete with the little circles to fill in, but it is an accurate list of who and what is on the ballot. I will have an absentee ballot tomorrow, actually, to compare.
When you are in line to vote, it is likely that they will have a sample ballot for you to look at before they give you a real ballot.
Actually, I’m not so interested in the names appearing on the ballot and I’m not worried about my own personal voting experience. What I’m interested in is to see how many states still use party symbols on their actual ballots and voting screens and what those symbols are. In the video linked to in this thread – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=490141 – it looks like the West Virginia touch screens display party symbols, but they’re not distinct enough to make out in the video. It looks like they might not be using the donkey and the elephant.
Weird. The Republican symbol looks like an eagle, and the Dems get a chicken.
I just googled up this page which has PDF links to the ballots in every county in West Virginia. I picked a couple at random and saw the symbols you mention. I wonder where they come from.
The eagle and the rooster have been used by the Republican and Democratic parties since long before Nast’s elephant and donkey. That’s why I was interested … it’s kind of cool to see these old-time symbols still in use.
New York uses symbols. The Democratic party is a solid five-pointed star; the Republican party has an eagle. Other symbols are an eagle flying over the letter “I” for Independence Party, the torch of the Statue of Liberty for the Conservative Party, and the letters “WF” in a square box for Working Families.
The symbols are unchanged since saw my first sample ballot in the early 60s. Parties have gone (the Liberal Party had a Liberty Bell, and the Right-to-Life Party had . . . you guessed it, a fetus) and been added (Working Families, Independence).
You can see some ballots here: http://www.schenectadycounty.com/FullStory.aspx?m=320&amid=930
Oh, and you can probably see ballots in all states by looking local board of elections web pages.
Here’s the sample ballot for my precinct. It IS an exact replica of the ballot (except that there are various versions, with the order of the candidate names rotated). Oh, and the except for the big “SAMPLE” across this.
No party symbols at all on the ballot here. In fact, I’ve never seen that on any ballot in my life. Isn’t that mostly used in third-world countries where many voters can’t read? I never realized they did it in parts of the USA!
I can’t seem to find them on all boards of election pages. In Ohio and Virginia, for example, I can only get lists of candidates, not sample ballots or screen shots.
Here’s a Virginia sample ballot (and my absentee ballot looked like this, except for the Virginia Beach specific elections, of course):
Both files are PDF
It’s probably a hangover from the 19th century, when ballots were privately printed and where putting a symbol on it made it easy to see who was voting for what so you could beat up people voting the wrong way.
(The secret ballot was added relatively late in the century, and voter intimidation was routine – courts even ruled that if you didn’t risk life and limb – literally – to vote, you probably weren’t serious about it).