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Inventory of the State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records
F3898  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Agency History
  • Introduction
  • Contents

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records
    Inventory: F3898
    Creator: State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records, F3898, California State Archives.

    Agency History

    1903 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]
    1921 Act of 1903 creating State Commission on Voting Machines repealed. [Stats 1921, c. 525]
    1923 State Commission on Voting Machines once again constituted. [Stats 1923, c. 96]
    1959 Name changed to State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices. [Stats 1959, c. 1585]
    1982 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 Office.

    Introduction

    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 ballot.
    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.

    Contents

    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.