I haven’t posted on here in forever. (I think it has been a month?) Anyway, in light of election today I thought I would briefly talk about something that is election-related. Please don’t tune me out – this isn’t going to be about who you should vote for, or the oft-repeated mantra about how it is important to vote. By this point, I’m sure that you, like me, are sick of hearing about it. Rather, I would like to describe the differences between the logistics of voting – how you actually cast your vote – between two different counties.
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County gets to go first, because that was the first place I ever voted. In SB county, you get handed multiple sheets of 11″ x 17″ cardstock. For those of you who don’t like math, that is twice the size of a standard piece of printer paper. All of the options are listed on those sheets. Next to each name, there is an arrow that has a gap in it. It looks something like this:
To mark your selection, you draw a thin line connecting the two parts of the arrow. You aren’t supposed to circle the arrow, or put a check mark in it, or fill it in all the way. Just one thin line connecting the two parts. Once you have finished marking your ballot, you hand it to the poll worker who puts it in this giant cardboard box and you are done. How those sort-of-finish-the-arrow votes get counted is not revealed to the voters of SB county.
Los Angeles County
Since getting married, I now live in Los Angeles County. Thus, my most recent election votes (including 7 am this morning) have been cast there. In LA county, you get handed something that looks something like a Scranton, like you use for a multiple-choice test at school. It’s about the same size as the larger Scrantons, too. It has like a hundred (or maybe it was two hundred) bubbles on it, all numbered. At the top of the paper are two holes. When you go into the voting booth, there is a stiff-board book there. At the back of the book, there is a slot to insert your voting sheet. There are two posts, which the holes on your voting sheet go over. This makes sure that everything lines up correctly. The spine of the book is plastic (and very wide). To vote, you flip through the book. Next to each voting option, there is a hole in the plastic spine which reveals the corresponding bubble on your voting sheet. To select the option you want, you push this stamp-like thing through the correct hole in the voting-book spine. This fills in the bubble with black ink. The picture below is a screen-grab of the video that LA county offers on how to vote, to give you kind of an idea of what this looks like.
Then, you flip the page in the book, which moves the options over to appear on the next column over on the voting sheet. (All of the options for one category appear in a single column on the voting sheet.) Sometimes, like with the propositions, multiple propositions appear on the same page of the voting book. You vote for all that apply, and then move on. When you are done voting, you go over to a machine. The poll worker shows you how to put your voting sheet into it. The machine then reads your sheet and counts your votes, right then and there.
So, there you have it. How voting works in SB and LA counties. The differences surprised me. If you live in one of those counties, please let me know if you were surprised to hear how differently these two neighboring counties run their polling places. If you live somewhere else, I would be interested to hear how voting works where you live.