In the United States, people vote at the local, state, and federal (national) level. Citizens age 18 or older may vote. The states set more rules. They require periods of living in a particular place. In most states a voter cannot be mentally unfit or a felon. (A felon is someone who has committed a serious crime.) State rules differ on whether felons regain their voting rights.
Voting is free in all states. No one can be forced to vote. It is a crime to try to stop someone from voting. Voting is private. A person may vote only once in any election.
Each state, county, city, or ward (division of a city) is divided into voting districts. The districts are called precincts. People must register in the precinct where they live before voting. In some states they can register on Election Day. But usually they must register several weeks earlier.
Elections are held at various times. General elections (for federal officials) take place every two years. Election Day is the Tuesday that falls between November 2 and 8.
On Election Day, polling places are set up in each precinct. Voters present themselves to the poll workers. They provide identification. And they receive their voting materials.
Generally, people vote by machine in private booths. The machine records the voter's choice. There are many kinds of voting machines. Each state decides what kind it will use. Today computerized voting is widespread. Voters fill out a computer-readable paper form. Or they may touch a computer screen to vote.
Voting machines are designed to produce prompt and accurate counts. They are meant to reduce cheating and error. Voting machines must allow people to vote in private. People must also be able to vote for a person whose name is not shown. And they must be able to change their choices before placing the vote. Voting machines must have safeguards that prevent votes from being manipulated.
People also vote by mail. After all votes are cast, they are added up. Then the winners are announced.