Casting Your Vote: The Election Process Explained

By Anthony Krim Il        

The race for the presidency will soon end as Americans across the nation cast their ballots on Nov. 8.

However, if you don’t understand this process, you’re not alone. Many Americans don’t know what happens after they leave their polling place. With allegations of a ‘rigged’ election and the confusion surrounding the electoral college, we reached out to some people to clear things up.

When voting for president, you are not voting for the candidate that is on the ballot. You are voting for which candidate the electors in your state will support. If majority vote of the state is Democrat, for example, then the electors from that state will cast their vote as Democrat. On Jan. 6, congress meets, and electoral votes from the states are officially counted.

The number of electors from each state equals the state’s number of Senators and representatives in the House. There are 100 senators, 435 representatives in the house and three electors that represent the District of Columbia. This totals 538.

So, who are the electors?  The electors are generally people who hold a prominent role in their states’ parties. For example, a governor could be an elector. The electors are trusted to vote in accordance with the popular vote of their state.

Could the election results be tampered with? This is a growing concern among Americans, especially after Donald Trump, the Republican Party candidate for president, has made allegations of a rigged election. David Porter, professor of political science at Youngstown State University, doesn’t believe so.

“I challenged my students to come up with a way that the election could be rigged,” Porter said.  “If they could come up with a logical way, I would give them an automatic ‘A’ for the class.  None of them could. I just don’t see how fraud of that magnitude could be committed.”

Elections are carried out at the county level, and Porter said that nationally we should have no concern about the outcome of the election being different from how people voted.

Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, said we’re safe on the local level as well.

“I think Ohio has got a terrific voting system,” Munroe said.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections comprises two Democrats and two Republicans. The board’s staff is divided evenly between members of both parties.

“There’s so many checks and balances,” Munroe said. “There’s a paper trail for every vote that is cast in the county. I think voters can have great confidence in how votes are cast and counted.”

However, Munroe said asking this question is something we should be doing as Americans.

“That’s not to say that we should stop being vigilant. We need to be cautious always,” Munroe said. “It certainly is fine to be concerned and vigilant.”

Munroe said in-person voter fraud is extremely low, and studies carried out at the national level seem to support this. He suggested that things are murkier when it comes to voter registration and absentee balloting. However, absentee ballots very seldom determine the outcome of a race.

“I think we’ve got a great system [in Mahoning County], and that we can be very confident that the results that are reported on election night in this county will reflect the ballots that are actually cast,” Munroe said.

So, should you even vote? Many people feel that with the electoral college determining the president, their vote doesn’t count.

But in a speech in October, President Barack Obama reminded Americans of the sacrifices made so that we could have the privilege of voting for our leaders.

“There was a time when folks couldn’t vote,” Obama said. “Folks were beaten to vote. Folks risked everything to vote. In this election, whatever issue you care about, it could not be easier for you to vote.”