Title: State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records
State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices
California State Archives
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[Identification of item], State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records, F3898, California State
||State Commission on Voting Machines created by an act of legislature. Commission members consisted of the Governor, Secretary
of State and Attorney General. [Stats 1903, c. 266]
||Act of 1903 creating State Commission on Voting Machines repealed. [Stats 1921, c. 525]
||State Commission on Voting Machines once again constituted. [Stats 1923, c. 96]
||Name changed to State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices. [Stats 1959, c. 1585]
||State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices abolished. [Stats 1982, c. 1190]
||Duties of Commission taken over by the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel under the direction of the Secretary of State's
The State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices was formed to examine any machine proposed for use in
California elections. No machine could be used prior to receiving approval from the Commission whose membership consisted
of the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General. Voting machines, voting devices and vote tabulating devices
were judged for their accuracy, efficiency, safeguards against fraud or manipulation, and capability to preserve secrecy of
The application process began with a formal request to the Commission. The Commission scheduled the examination and determined
the costs which were the responsibility of the applicant. Approval was given or withheld after reviewing the findings of the
consultant (hired by the Commission) and information gathered at public hearings. The Commission filed a report and a copy
was then sent to the Board of Supervisors in each county.
Once a machine was approved, it could not be changed or modified until the Commission had been notified and had determined
that the change did not impair its accuracy. Periodically, the Commission reviewed machines to see if they were inadequate,
defective, obsolete or unacceptable.
The files of the State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices span 1947 to 1986, with the bulk of the material
falling within 1960 and 1980. Records of the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel (1983-1986) which was formed after the Commission
was abolished, are also included. The files are subdivided into Administrative Files, Engineering Consultants Files, and Approved
Systems and Equipment Files.
The records trace the process in which voting equipment is approved for use in the State of California. They document the
emergence of electronic vote tallying as opposed to the manual or mechanical systems. The records follow the development of
several machine models through changes of ownership and modifications. For example, the Votomatic Vote Recorder was originally
produced by Harris Votomatic, Inc. Later models were manufactured by IBM and Computer Election Systems (CES).
The appendix (compiled by Edward G. Arnold, Jr.) chronologically lists the systems and equipment that were approved for use
in California elections. A Copy is available at the California State Archives.