The simplest way to cast a vote for one party's candidates is to use the straight party device. A voter would darken the oval next to political party's name, which means a vote will be cast for every candidate on the ballot for that particular party. (Do not darken the party emblem or underline the party name, which occasionally happens and does not capture the person's vote.) There is no need to darken the oval next to the candidates if you are using the straight party device and only want to support candidates of one particular party. However, a voter can choose to skip the straight party device and darken ovals next to every candidate of the same party.
2. How can someone vote in races and spread their vote across several political candidates/parties?
Instead of using the straight party device, the voter would darken the oval next to the individual candidates they are supporting regardless of party affiliation. Another option is to 'scratch.' This means a voter would use the straight party device but also cast a vote for a different party in one or more races. For example, Vicky Voter is supporting all of the Orange Party candidates except in the dogcatcher race. She wants to vote for Yellow Party's candidate. Vicky could darken the oval on the Orange Party's straight party device and then darken the oval next to the Yellow Party's dogcatcher candidate. The machine will read the ballot as a vote for every Orange Party candidate except for the dogcatcher race where the Yellow Party candidate gets her vote. Her other option would be to skip the straight party device and simply darken the ovals next to each individual candidate she is supporting.
3. Can a "straight ticket" voter vote in a race if their party isn't running a candidate in it? If so, how?
Yes. Let's say the Blue Party has candidates in all but the dogcatcher's race. Only the Orange and Yellow parties have dogcatcher candidates. A voter can darken the oval next to the Blue Party's straight party option and then select either the Orange or Yellow party's candidate for dogcatcher. The machine will read this ballot as a vote for every Blue Party candidate except in the dogcatcher's race where either the Orange or Yellow party candidate the voter selected will receive the vote.
4. It's my understanding that there is at least one write-in candidate in at least one of the races this year. What is the process of voting for a write-in candidate if the voter chooses to do so?
To vote for a write-in candidate, a voter darkens the oval next to the write-in option and writes in the candidate's name on the line provided. Only those candidates that have declared themselves to be a write-in candidate (or another declared candidate for that office) will have their votes counted. The official list of write-in candidates should be made available at theclerk's table on Election Day.