I learned something very interesting last week when I went for a training session for election workers. It seems that you can unwittingly invalidate your ballot by making "distinguishing" marks on it. People have been known to initial their votes, draw little flowers or hearts or smilie faces, etc. Anything that would make your ballot identifiable as yours can lead to the ballot being declared VOID. The rule reads like this on our training materials (this is in Maine, and may be specific to the local voting procedures, but is based on the state election rules):
Voided Ballots: A voided ballot is a ballot that has been voted with distinguishing marks.
The reasoning for this is that someone could flip through the stack of the ballots and pick out that one ballot and know who cast it. The warden who led the training session told us that if the mark is on or beside the vote for a particular race on the ballot, only that race will be declared void. This didn’t make a lot of sense to me considering the reasoning, but that is apparently the way it will be carried out.
If someone marks up their ballot this way and they are using a machine to accept ballots, the void ballot will be kicked back out and the voter may have an opportunity to redo it. But the election worker cannot technically tell them not to put hearts and flowers on it, that would be telling the voter "how to mark his or her ballot" and that is strictly not allowed.
So try to resist that urge the pretty up your ballot or jot comments on it and
MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS!