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Please note that New York State has done away with the old lever type voting machines starting in 2009 and the instructions that follow are for the new machines. Supposedly, New York State voters were not supposed to be using the old machines at all in 2009, including school budget votes. However, I since learned that many of the old machines were still in use for the 2009 elections. Just in case this happens again, I am leaving the old directions up which will follow these new directions. You may wish to familiarize yourself with both sets of instructions just in case you encounter an old lever style voting machine at your polling place.



How Do I Do a Write-In Vote?





Every voter should learn how to do a write-in vote. While not used very often in comparison to regular voting, it's a basic voting necessity. This year, make it a point to learn how to do one. Why this year? Because you don't need to, that's why, and therefore, that's the best time to learn. One of these years, you just may need to cast a write-in ballot. That's not the time to learn. You want to go in with confidence, not trepidation.

The write-in vote is used often in elections. You just don't see it because the newspapers don't usually give much space as to the results. You can actually vote for whomever you want when you write someone's name in. You certainly don't need their permission. And they'll never know who did it since a write-in vote is just as secret as voting the regular way. So, if you don't tell them, that person will never even know you did it. Some people even write in names of cartoon characters. As for myself, when I use it, I like to keep it professional. I pick an actual person who I think would do a good job and who could actually fill the position. (i.e. - somebody living and who resides in the area they would serve.)

Now that New York State has switched to the computerized card reader style of voting method, doing a write-in vote couldn't be easier. Even though the State has settled on using two different types of machines, the process is fundamentally the same. As you sign in to vote, you will be handed a voting card that contains the various offices that you will be voting for. (You may be handed more than one card if the number of offices being contested exceeds the space on the card.) You will then take this card over to a table that has partitions on it which helps to keep your choices secret. Upon looking at the card, you'll note that each office being contested has the list of the authorized candidates along with a circle next to each name. At the bottom of each list of candidates will be printed the word "Other" with a blank line next to it. Take the marking instrument provided and fill in the circle next to the word "Other". Then write in the name of the person that you wish to vote for. When you are finished, take the card up to the election inspector near the voting machine and give your card to him/her. They will run your card through the machine which will record your vote. If there is a problem with the machine reading your card, they will give it back to you and, if needed, help you rectify the problem. As an example, if you voted for someone in one of the other races and changed your mind, you may have not erased your choice thoroughly enough, in which case the machine might think you're trying to vote for two candidates in the same race. It should also be noted that if you are having any problems or have any questions while doing a write-in vote or voting in general, the election inspectors are there to help. All you need to do is ask. Also, don't worry about the machine being able to read your handwriting in reference to your write-in vote. All of the cards get reviewed back at the County Election Office where the write-in vote is tabulated. Yes, I know there is some grumbling that some (maybe a lot) of county election offices are not going through the cards and totaling the write-in votes. But I'm giving you directions on the way things are SUPPOSED to happen. If you want to press the issue with your local county election office, that's entirley up to you. In the end, doing a write-in vote is that easy.

As with the old lever style voting machine, there is one important thing to remember. And that is that if you write in the name of a person whose name already appears at least once on the list for that race, you're write-in vote will not count for that person. When it comes to having a person listed more than once on the list due to the endorsement of more than one party, the separate votes for a person running on two or more party lines will be added together to produce one total. Not so with the write-in votes. The logic of this is that if the voter didn't vote for the person already listed, then that voter must be voting for somebody else who just happens to have the same name.

That's all there is to the process. So, make this your practice year and cast your first write-in vote.


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WRITE-IN VOTE INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE OLD LEVER STYLE VOTING MACHINES.



Every voter should learn how to do a write-in vote. While not used very often, it's a basic voting necessity. This year, make it a point to learn how to do one. Why this year? Because you don't need to, that's why, and therefore, that's the best time to learn. One of these years, you just may need to cast a write-in ballot. That's not the time to learn. You want to go in with confidence, not trepidation.

The write-in vote is used often in elections. You just don't see it because the newspapers don't usually give much space as to the results. You can actually vote for whomever you want when you write someone's name in. You certainly don't need their permission. And they'll never know who did it since a write-in vote is just as secret as voting the regular way. So, if you don't tell them, that person will never even know you did it. Some people even write in names of cartoon characters. As for myself, when I use it, I like to keep it professional. I pick an actual person who I think would do a good job and who could actually fill the position. (i.e. - somebody living and who resides in the area they would serve.)

Before you do a write-in vote in New York State, however, you need to remember two things.

  1. The first is that once you push the slot lever up, you cannot change your mind and pull the lever across from a name as you normally would. This is a safeguard to prevent someone from voting twice: once as a write-in and again using the lever. This locking procedure only occurs for that column. You can still use the levers on the other columns.
  2. The second thing to remember is that if you write in the name of a person whose name already appears on one or more of the regular lines, your write-in vote will not count for that person. On the regular voting lines, the separate votes for a person running on two or more party lines will be added together to produce one total. Not so with the write-in votes. The logic of this is that if the voter didn't vote for the person using the lever, then that voter must be voting for another person who has the same name.

So how do you actually do one? In New York State, all mechanical voting machines pretty much have the same layout. Therefore, these directions should cover all of them. Make sure when you go into the voting booth, you have a pen or pencil. Technically, there should be a pencil in there. It's usually hanging from a long string on the left hand side. Sometimes though, the point is dull or broken. It's best to have your own just in case. Next, find the column of the contest that you want to do the write-in vote. The name of the office is along the top row. Follow the column up until you come to a metal tab protruding from a small window slot. Be careful because in some booths, the column makes a diagonal turn as it meets the slot window, putting the slot window at a diagonal. This makes it harder to follow the column up, but easier for you to write in the name. Push that metal tab upwards. There will be a slight resistance. Remember, as you push up on the tab, the voting machine is locking the lower levers so you can't vote twice. When you are through writing in the name and any identifying info that you feel is pertinent, close the slot window. You are now free to vote in the other races as you would normally.

If you run into trouble or are unsure of yourself (and this is why you're practicing now when you don't need to do a write-in vote), remember that you can ask for assistance from the election inspector standing outside of the booth. If you do ask for help, stick your head outside of the curtain to get his attention. DO NOT PULL THE LEVER THAT OPENS THE CURTAIN. Once you open the curtain, your voting is considered over with, whether you actually finished or not.

It's interesting to note that every few years, some State Senator or Assemblyman proposes that a last row be added to all offices in the voting booth. This row would bear the name "None of the Above" and is supposed to let voters show their dissatisfaction with the candidates listed. To me, this just shows a lack of understanding of the voting process since the procedure for doing this already exists with the use of the write-in vote.

That's all there is to the process. So, make this your practice year and cast your first write-in ballot.


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