Another Voting FAQ

Answers to your questions about the news.
Nov. 14 2000 5:19 PM

Another Voting FAQ

What if Florida's election officials aren't able to certify a final result by the Dec. 18 Electoral College vote? Or if Florida's final result is a tie?


The state legislature--which is Republican-controlled--could step in. United States Code Title 3, Section 2 gives the legislature the power to appoint electors if a state has "failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law." While there's some argument, constitutional scholars seem to be leaning toward the view that the Electoral College could choose a president without Florida's participation.

What if Florida's Republican secretary of state certifies that George W. Bush won, but Democrats say the result was illegitimate?

They could look to the election of 1876 and send their own slate of electors. During Reconstruction, when there were questions about what was a legitimate state government, Florida (!), Louisiana, and South Carolina each sent in Democratic and Republican sets of electoral votes. In the end, only the Republican slates were counted. 

When ballots are double-punched for one race, is the whole ballot invalidated?

Only the double-punch is invalidated. The properly punched selections are counted.

When did ballots become secret?

The secret ballot was created in Australia in the late 19th century and first adopted in this country in 1888. Before then people made ballots at home and brought them into polling places. Since there was no presumption of secrecy, polling places were like open auctions. Political parties produced their own ballots, with only their own candidates on them, and bribed people to use these. By 1900 the majority of states had laws providing for selection in private from a government-printed ballot listing all legitimate candidates.

Can the government trace how you voted?

No. All voting systems are supposed to separate the recording of who voted from the ballot that person cast. Absentee ballots generally have two envelopes, one with a return address and an inner one that is blank. The election official who separates the two envelopes cannot see how the person voted.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won't Stop Running
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 17 2014 11:06 AM Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 11:14 AM How Does That Geometry Problem Make You Feel? Computer tutors that can read students’ emotions.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.