And I am wondering who counts the votes? Is it a voluntary position, or are you elected to do it, or are you a federal employee? Or just what/who does the actual counting?
I neglected this part. Overseeing the process at every voting place is an election supervisor whose job it is to make things go smoothly. (It seldom does.) That's paid state position. Under the supervisor there are sometimes dozens of volunteers whose only job it is is to direct confused voters to the right table, the right machine and get them gone.
I have voted in places here in New York where twenty precinct voting booths are lined up and I have been to an election in Concho County, Texas where there were just two little old ladies handing out paper ballots for people to check off and put in the big box in the center of the grammar school's gym. They greeted people by name as they came in out the cold.
Polls are open here in the city from six am until 9pm. That's a long day. Everyone should call their local League of Woman Voters and thank them for finding volunteers for this thankless job.
Finally, after the doors are closed come the vote counters. They are the tabulators and they are, for the most part, your fellow citizens who are taking a day out of their life to make democracy work.
Depending upon the area, tabulators have to count every paper ballot or just push a button to get a final tally. They have to cross check that the number of votes matches the number of voters. Then the result is certified by the precinct supervisor and in many places posted on the door of the voting place. (That's how stringers for the papers get their numbers, they read them off the sheets and phone them into their editors.)
Finally, the votes are transported, first to the County Election Board and then on to the Office of the Secretary of State for certification or in case of a court challenge, a recount.