On How Americans Have Voted Through History

12-7-2020

On How Americans Have Voted Through History

There is much speculation on the “American Voting System” in the United States and much of it we know virtually little about. What we should all be familiar with is what the Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution says that it is up to each state to determine “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections.”

We haven’t always done it the way the 2020 presidential election was held. Did you know that early in our nation’s history the first 50 years of American elections were done in public by only those with the right to vote went to the local courthouse and publicly cast their vote out loud? At that time it was only white men who could vote and it was called Voice Voting. The law in most states through the early 19th century and in Kentucky until late 1891 voters would arrive at the courthouse, swear on a Bible that they were who they said they were and hadn’t already voted. The voter would call out his name to the clerk and announce his chosen candidates in each race. Campaigning and carousing were allowed in these early America elections with a turnout rate of 85 percent.

Paper ballots began being used in the early 19th century. They were not standardized or printed by the government. Ballots were initially scraps of paper where the voter scrawled his candidates’ names and dropped it into a ballot box. Soon newspapers printed out blank ballots with the titles of each office up for vote. Readers tore out these ballots, filled in their choices. By the mid-19th century state Republican or Democratic Party officials would distribute pre-printed fliers to voters with only their party’s candidates listed. These became known as party “Tickets” because they resembled train tickets of the time and it was easy to vote along straight party lines.

In the second half of the 19th century partisan paper ballots ruled with frequent accusations of voter fraud and calls for election reform. The first paper ballot printed with all candidates and handed to voters at the polling places was first adopted in the US by New York and Massachusetts in 1888 actually came from Australia.

When did voting machines first appear in US elections? That would be in the late 19th century by the Jacob H. Myers lever-operated “Automatic Booth” voting machine that would dominate American elections from 1910 through 1980. It had more moving parts than an automobile, required no electricity and was hand-operated. Voters could select individual candidates or turn a lever for a single party line vote for either Republican or Democratic candidates. Votes were not counted until the final lever was pulled. When the voter opened the curtain the vote was counted and the machine reset for the next voter. These machines were heavy and inspired confidence, but a damaged cog or the tip of a lead pencil could cause serious miscounts.

In the 1960s the punch card voting systems began coming out after IBM punch cards looked to be the future of the computer age. Ballots could be counted by computers with instantaneous tallies on election night. By the 2000 presidential election we all became familiar with the “dimpled chads”, “pregnant chads” and “hanging chads”. We also saw the 2000 election come down to a SCOTUS decision.

What happened in Florida caused Congress to pass legislation to mandate higher standards for voting equipment in 2002. There was a big wave of touch screen technology that cost states and municipalities millions of dollars to upgrade their voting equipment and also brought software “glitches” producing erroneous voter tallies. In 2016 it was reported that 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers. Following the punch card voting technology came optical scanning machines that read scannable form ballots which is the most popular way to cast a vote in America.

The article by Dave Roos did not include the 2020 Presidential Election claims of voter or election fraud due to the monopoly of Dominion Voting Systems with electronic voting equipment in 25 states and software in almost every state voting machine and the tabulation machines. This Canadian owned company that was reported to have been sold to a Chinese state company for $400M in 2019 without raising so much as an eyebrow of curiosity or concern. The implications of Chinese interference in this presidential election leave room for software “glitches” which are intentional or unintentional software programming designed to change specific voting outcome. Might I suggest that we go back to in person voting across the nation where voters can choose their candidate? – I am the Real Truckmaster!

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