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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #472: Voting in the USA
Voting in the USA
On November 2nd, Americans will choose a president and vice president. They will elect members of Congress and state and local officials. And they will decide local measures.
Voters must be at least eighteen. The voting age used to be twenty-one years old, until the Constitution was changed in nineteen seventy-one.
Here is another fact. Until nineteen twenty, the Constitution did not permit women to vote. Today women vote at higher rates than men in national elections. The Census Bureau says this has been true for more than twenty years.
Still, not all adults have the right to vote. Most of the states require voters not to have been found guilty of a major crime. Voters must also be American citizens. And they must be registered to vote in the area where they live. Their names must appear on a local election list.
In many states, a person must register at least two to four weeks before an election. Voters do not have to register again unless they move to a different area or do not vote in several elections.
On Election Day, people usually vote in a school or other public building near their home. Voting is done by secret ballot. But local election officials decide what kind of voting equipment is used.
Paper-and-pencil ballots are rare these days. But many systems still do use paper. Voters mark their choices on the ballot and a computer counts the votes. Some places use machines to record votes when a person moves a lever next to the name of a candidate. These kinds of machines are old and are slowly being replaced.
Other kinds of voting machines use punch cards. Voters use a device to make holes in the ballot to mark their choices. Then a computer passes light through the holes to count the votes. But these devices are also being replaced.
The problems with vote counting in Florida four years ago led Congress to pass the Help America Vote Act. Under this two thousand two law, states are getting money to buy modern technology. Still, officials say most voters this November will vote on the same equipment they used four years ago.
The most modern voting machines today use touch screen technology. Voters press on a computer screen to enter their choices. But some people question the security of these machines, especially without a printed record of the votes.
One way to avoid any machine at all is to vote early by absentee ballot. Election officials must receive the ballot on or before Election Day. This way of voting is increasingly popular. It avoids any wait at voting stations. But there are also questions about the security of absentee ballots against the possibility of cheating.
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