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.



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 4:33 PM Walmart Is Killing the Rest of Corporate America in Solar Power Adoption
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.