The procedure was simple. Everybody was given time off to vote. They went to their precinct, signed in and their signature was compared with the master list. They were checked off by two people, given a ballot and went into a booth. There, they either marked their ballot with a stamp, or punched a hole beside the name they wanted to vote for for each office, then, when they were satisfied with their ballot, they took it to another worker, who tore off the number and gave it to the voter then put the ballot in a locked box.
For closed primaries, where the voter had to declare a party, they did so, were given the proper ballot, and went into the appropriate booth to mark their ballot, then it was deposited as above.
When the polls closed, the doors were locked, often with a police officer outside the door, the ballot boxes were opened and hand counted by the poll workers. First, the number of ballots were tallied against the number of people who voted. If there had been spoiled ballots, they were tallied and accounted for. Then the ballots were divided up amongst the workers and were counted by hand, with the votes for each candidate tallied. This was done at least twice by two groups. If there was a discrepancy, it was re-counted until everything tallied. Once the totals were counted and verified, they were signed off by the precinct workers under the penalty of perjury as being true and correct. Then the ballots were locked back into the ballot boxes and taken, along with the sealed results, by the police or sheriff to the county seat. The results from each precinct were tallied into the county vote and so on up the line. The sealed ballot boxes were locked away until there was no need for a recount.
We have all read of the Government Accountability Office's report on voting fraud in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Some have read Greg Palast's exhaustive investigations of voter fraud and disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of votes; Of the electronic voting machines that record votes to the wrong candidates and provide no paper trail; Of the technicians who wipe the memories of the machines so they cannot be audited.
Now, at least here in Washington State, we have gone to all "mail in" ballots, to make it "easier" to vote! We have also gone back to the "closed" primary, so we have to declare a party before voting. We are given color coded envelopes to put our ballots in. (Last election, in some states, thousands of Democrat and Independent color coded ballots were found, unopened, in dumpsters.)
Apparently, they are already counting mail in ballots in Washington State and have stated that one in five ballots are not counted, that is 20% of the electorate, folks, because people forgot or didn't notice that in addition to putting the ballot in the properly colored envelope, they had to check a tiny box on the ballot that declared their party. This wouldn't happen in a polling place.
I think it is way past time to pay attention to old Joe Stalin. It is "who counts the votes." It is time to go back to the old, time tested, small polling precincts, with a hand count of the results, signed off and sworn to under the penalty of perjury by a small number of people. If this were done at each stage of the count, the actual ballots would be handled by a very small number of people at the precinct, so fraud would be easily detected and would be for a small number of votes. This is one small, but very important, way that We the People can take our country back. Let's try it! What we've done in the last six years certainly hasn't worked.