Vote here for President, judge, sheriff, court clerk ... and bingo

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The Independent Online
If you are an American in Britain and eligible to vote, there is still time to exercise your franchise - if you have an absentee ballot. The US embassy provides federal ballots, though for state issues a ballot must be sent for from each individual state.

But unlike the British voter who simply has to check a box next to a name, the US voter will be faced with a bewildering array of choices for public officials on 5 November.

For example, the ballot for the state of Oklahoma offers 22 opportunities for citizens to make a decision. Not only do they speak on who should run the country and who will represent the state in both houses of Congress, but they are asked to wrangle with the tough call of who gets the county court clerkship and sheriff's post. They also control the fates of10 state-level judges. Then they must consider six proposals to amend the state constitution.

How do voters deal with the responsibility of making decisions at national and state level government plus regulating the state judicial system?

Many just vote a straight party ticket for the lesser known local candidates and guess for the propositions that are not black and white - obscure alterations to the tax codes, for example. A few assiduously follow the local paper's candidate roundups. But many who vote do so simply out of a sense of civic duty. Plus, many are not sure whether, if they leave some offices blank, their vote will count. So, they fill everything in.

Shannon Luckey, 26, living in Washington DC and voting absentee for Alger county, Michigan, is a fairly well-informed, conscientious voter. Yet even she is hardly interested in the propositions on the use of dogs in bear-hunting season and amendments to the bingo act.

She follows the races for all major offices at federal level, reading up and deciding for herself. At the local level, she will decide on a few candidates she knows about, and after that vote straight party ticket. "It's the lazy way out," she admits, but "at least you have a basic idea of the ideological standpoints of people you're voting for".

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