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Voting Guide: The Voting Experience Through the Years

Learn about the history of voting in the United States, and how to exercise your right to vote!

Voting Methods

While who can vote has changed since the first Presidential election in 1789, the methods of casting your vote and counting the ballots have changed too.  For many years, votes were hand completed and counted.  Mechanical voting was first used around 1892. A voting apparatus, or machine, registers and tabulates votes.  The mechanical-lever machine was used in 1920 and for many years after.  The punched card systems were first used in 1965.  One was called the Votomatic.  The punched card sometimes left a chad (the paper punched out) hanging: "the hanging chad".  Many said this may have affected the outcome of the close 2000 Presidential election.  Voting methods are important!

In 2002, the HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT provided dollars for upgrading voting equipment and methods across the country.  Today, touch screen computers are used to create completed paper ballots that are then scanned as the vote is counted with a click.

Paper Ballots

Women casting paper ballot

Women Casting Paper Ballot

For many years, votes were hand written and counted.  Image credit commons.wikimedia.org

President Wilson casting paper ballot

President Wilson Casting Paper Ballot

Image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Casting paper ballot

Casting Paper Ballot

Image credit commons.wikimedia.org

The Punch Card System

Butterfly Ballot Voting Booth

Butterfly Ballot Voting Booth

image credit commons.wikipedia.org

Punched Card Ballot

Punched Card Ballot

image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Person Punching Ballot

Voter Punching Ballot

image credit Flickr.com

Mechanical Voting

Mechanical voting booth

Mechanical Voting Booth

image credit Library of Congress

Mechanical Voting Machine

Mechanical Voting Machine

image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Mechanical Lever

The Mechanical Lever that Casts the Vote

image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Georgia's New Computer Voting System

Touch screen voting computer

Touch Screen Voting Computer

Georgia will debut it's new computer voting system in 2020.  After you've made your choices on the touch screen, a paper ballot is printed.

Image credit Deborah S Manget

Paper Ballot scanner

Paper Ballot Scanner

Place the paper ballot in this scanner to cast your vote, with a click.

image credit Deborah S Manget

New computer voting booths

New Computer Voting Booths

Computer voting system with privacy screens.

image credit Deborah S Manget


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