Diversions aside, the main election-day business was to vote. A few colonies, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, and North Carolina, employed some form of ballot. Others, like Virginia, relied on public voice votes, an English tradition. Voice voting made ballot counts harder to rig and, cast in the presence of friends, neighbors, local officials, and candidates, left no doubt about a voter's intention. In Virginia, voice voting was a spectator event, every voter occupying center stage for a few moments. In his book Gentlemen Freeholders: Political Practices in Washington's Virginia, Charles S. Sydnor wrote:
As each freeholder came before the sheriff, his name was called out in a loud voice, and the sheriff inquired how he would vote. The freeholder replied by giving the name of his preference. The appropriate clerk then wrote down the voter's name, the sheriff announced it as enrolled, and often the candidate for whom he had voted arose, bowed, and publicly thanked him.