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Make Your Voice Heard California Statewide November 2, 2004 General Election
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  Voter Information

Dates to Remember

Voter Bill of Rights

Voting Systems Information

Audio Version of the Voter Information Guide

Cal-Access (Campaign Finance) Information

Candidate Statement Information

The Process of Voting Absentee & Apply to be a Permanent Vote-by-Mail Voter

Find Your Polling Place

Safe at Home Program




The Secretary of State certifies voting systems for use. Each county then chooses which certified system they want to use.

There are currently three different types of voting systems used in California elections.

Optical Scan

This is a system similar to the standardized tests given in school. To cast a ballot, the voter:

  • Signs in at the polls and receives a paper ballot along with an approved marking device.
  • Marks the appropriate position on the ballot. The names of the candidates may be printed on the actual ballot or on a sheet alongside the ballot. After making his or her selections, reviews the ballot and then places the ballot in a secrecy envelope or folder.
  • Returns his or her ballot to the poll worker. The ballot is then counted by an optical scanning machine, either at the polling place or at a central location.


Touchscreen, or direct recording electronic, systems are the newest type of voting systems in California. Rather than marking a piece of paper, the voter casts his or her ballot electronically.
To cast a ballot, the voter:

  • Signs in at the polls.
  • Either individually or with the aid of a poll worker activates the machine.
  • Marks the ballot by touching a screen or using a keyboard style interface.
  • After making his or her selections, a review screen will appear allowing them to verify his or her choices.
  • Casts his or her ballot.


Datavote is a punch card voting system, but differs in at least two ways from "chad" producing punch card systems. First, the names of the candidates are printed on the ballots. Second, the system uses a lever punch to prevent chads.

To cast a ballot, the voter:

  • Signs in at the polls and receives a paper ballot.
  • Inserts the ballot into the tray and under the clear plastic cover from the left side of machine.
  • Marks the ballot by moving the punch lever next to each of his or her selections and completely depresses the lever to punch out a cross (+).
  • After making his or her selections, reviews the ballot and then places the ballot in a secrecy envelope.
  • Returns his or her ballot to the poll worker.


In response to concerns about the security of touchscreen/DRE voting systems, the Secretary of State's office has required these systems to meet 23 additional security measures before these systems can be used in the November election.

These additional security measures require:

  • That every voter be given the option of casting a paper ballot. If you would prefer to use a paper ballot instead of a touchscreen/DRE, you may request one when you sign in at the polls.
  • That the system's source code must be made available for analysis by independent experts.
  • That no telephone, wireless, or Internet connections are permitted on the machines.
  • That the county engage in a comprehensive poll worker training program.
You can get more information about these security measures on the Internet at or by calling 1-800-345-VOTE.


County Type of System County Type of System
Alameda Touchscreen/DRE Orange DRE
Alpine Datavote Placer Optical Scan
Amador Optical Scan Plumas Touchscreen/DRE
Butte Optical Scan Riverside Touchscreen/DRE
Calaveras Datavote Sacramento Optical Scan
Colusa Optical Scan San Benito Datavote
Contra Costa Optical Scan San Bernardino Touchscreen/DRE
Del Norte Datavote San Diego Optical Scan
El Dorado Datavote San Francisco Optical Scan
Fresno Optical Scan San Joaquin Optical Scan
Glenn Datavote San Luis Obispo Optical Scan
Humboldt Optical Scan San Mateo Optical Scan
Imperial Datavote Santa Barbara Optical Scan
Inyo Datavote Santa Clara Touchscreen/DRE
Kern Optical Scan Santa Cruz Optical Scan
Kings Optical Scan Shasta Touchscreen/DRE
Lake Optical Scan Sierra Datavote
Lassen Optical Scan Siskiyou Optical Scan
Los Angeles Optical Scan Solano Optical Scan
Madera Optical Scan Sonoma Optical Scan
Marin Optical Scan Stanislaus Optical Scan
Mariposa Optical Scan Sutter Optical Scan
Mendocino Optical Scan Tehama Touchscreen/DRE
Merced Touchscreen/DRE Trinity Optical Scan
Modoc Optical Scan Tulare Optical Scan
Mono Optical Scan Tuolumne Optical Scan
Monterey Optical Scan Ventura Datavote
Napa Touchscreen/DRE Yolo Datavote
Nevada Optical Scan Yuba Datavote


These are the voting systems used at polling places. A different voting system may be used for absentee voting.

Counties using touchscreen/DRE systems are required to have paper ballots available upon request.

You can get more information about how to use the specific voting system used in your county on the Internet at, or by calling 1-800-345-VOTE or from your local county elections official.

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Copyright © 2004 California Secretary of State