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You must be registered to vote.

Step 1. Obtain a ballot.

Find the location of your polling place. Polling place locations are published in a newspaper of general circulation in your county. If you don’t see the publication or do not know the location, call your county clerk or board of election commissioners and ask.

At the polling place, sign an application for ballot. Additionally, in a Primary Election you will be required to call for the ballot of the party for which you wish to vote. You may call for the ballot of any party conducting a primary and may change party from one primary to the next. Note: Any time a public question is submitted to the voters in a primary, the question will appear on the party primary ballots; however, you may vote the public question without declaring a party affiliation by requesting a Non-partisan ballot containing the question only.

A judge of election will determine the ballot on which you are qualified to vote and after initialing it, will give it to you and direct you to a voting booth. The vote recorder (see illustration 1) located in the booth will be used to make punches in the ballot card. The names and the position numbers assigned to each of your chosen party candidates in a Primary Election or all candidates in a General Election will be printed on the pages of the vote recorder.

Step 2. Marking the ballot.

Insert the ballot in the slot at the top of the vote recorder. Using both hands, and with the numbers facing you, push down gently until the two holes in the top of the ballot card fit securely over the two red pins at the top of the recorder. These holes in the ballot card are slightly off-set. If the ballot will not fit over the pins in the recorder, the ballot may be wrong-side-up. The word "STOP" in large letters is printed on the back of the ballot. Remove the ballot, turn it over and try again. When the ballot is securely in place, begin voting.

Turn the pages of the vote recorder and choose your candidates. Align the candidate name horizontally following the arrow that points to the corresponding number in the punch area of the recorder. Using the stylus (the pin-like punching tool) attached to the recorder, firmly press straight down completely through the hole opposite the name of the candidate of your choice. Use only the stylus to mark your ballot. Your votes may not count if anything other than the stylus is used to punch your ballot.

Read the instructions and be especially mindful of the number of candidates to vote for in each office. Be aware that if you vote for more candidates than the number to be elected, it is considered an over-vote and none of the candidates for that office will receive a vote.

You are not required to cast a vote in all offices. If you skip an office, an under-vote will be registered for that office; however, an under-vote cannot be traced to any individual voter. Over-voting or under-voting an office does not affect the rest of your ballot.

You may cast a write-in vote for a candidate whose name is not on the ballot. A write-in is executed on the upper long stub of a fold-over ballot. (illustration 2) You must write the name of the office and under it, draw a box and a line to the right. Write the name of your candidate on the line and place an "X" in the box being certain the lines of the "X" intersect within the box. A write-in form is provided on the ballot card envelope in the case of regular (short stub) punch cards. (illustration 3) A write-in vote will not be counted for any candidate who has failed to file an Intent to be a Write-in Candidate as prescribed by law.

Step 3. Check your ballot.

It is easy to check the accuracy of the punches after you finish voting. Remove the ballot card from the vote recorder and look at the position number where the chad (small chip) is missing. This punched position number will be the same as the number shown for your chosen candidate on the ballot page of the recorder. Follow this procedure to check all your votes. Look at the back of the ballot and carefully remove any chad that may still be hanging from the back of the ballot.

Step 4. Preserve the secrecy of your ballot.

Fold the top flap of the ballot over the position numbers and place the ballot in a security sleeve in the case of fold-over ballots or in the case of regular punch card, place the card in the security envelope provided to protect the secrecy of your ballot.

Step 5. Cast your ballot.

Take your voted ballot to the judge of election in charge of the ballot box. He/she will deposit your ballot into the ballot box. The judge of election is required to check that the ballot is properly initialed. The initials can be seen without removing the ballot from its privacy envelope or sleeve.

Certain new forms of in-precinct punch card voting systems have a feature referred to as "Error Notification." If your jurisdiction is using this type of system, when your ballot is inserted (you may be allowed to insert your own ballot) in the precinct ballot tabulator, you will be notified of over-votes or under-votes in certain offices. The voter may remove the ballot, receive a replacement and may re-vote, if he/she wishes. Otherwise the errors are ignored (over-ridden) and the ballot will be counted "as is."

If you have any questions concerning the ballot be sure to ask those questions before your ballot is cast. If you make an error you may request a new ballot. If you didn’t see a public question for which you should have been able to vote, or you believe you should have been able to vote for a candidate whose name you did not see on the ballot, ask questions before your ballot is inserted in the ballot box. Once your ballot is cast nothing can be done to retrieve it.

Helpful information

You may not remain in the polling place longer than required to vote. However, you are well within your rights to review the posted specimen ballot and to ask the judges of election for a demonstration of the equipment. Do not hesitate to ask questions.

Vote Punch