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Voting Methods:

  1. Optical Scan Paper Ballots – voted by mail and at polling places
  2. Touch Screen and Electronic Voting – supplied at polling places under the Federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) for those with sight or mobility impairments or limited reading skills who need help with voting. It offers voting through audio and visual means, and allows the use of assistive devices (i.e., sip & puff, stylus).


Current Voting Systems Vendor:    Dominion Voting Systems: www.dominionvoting.com


Voting systems designed by Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc., has been used in the County since 1998.  In June 2010, Dominion Voting applied to purchase all Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. assets.  The purchase was reviewed and approved by the Department of Justice, nine state Attorney Generals, and the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States.  Since then, Dominion has worked closely with customers to make sure that elections are supported and maintenance, support and warranty contract terms are met.


Voting Paper or on an Accessible Touch Screen Voting Machine in Monterey County

On Election Day, all voters are issued a secrecy sleeve and a paper ballot to vote.  We have been issuing paper ballots as the main method of voting since November 2007.  HAVA and state regulation require that counties place only one touch screen voting machine at each precinct’s polling place.


Any voter who wants to use a touch screen voting machine should ask an Election Officer for help.  Touch screen voting is also on hand at our office during the 29 day Early Voting period before each Election.


How to Vote using Paper Ballots

When voting with a paper ballot use a pencil or pen. Connect the head and tail of the vote arrow next to the candidate’s name. A single line will be enough, no need to press hard or make a heavy or dark line.  For a measure, connect the head and tail of the vote arrow next to the word “YES” or “NO.”

Instructions to vote on Paper Ballots

How to Vote using the Touch Screen Voting Machine

When voting using the touch screen voting machine, using your finger or hand-held device, touch the screen in or near the circle that is next to the candidate’s name or next to the word “YES” or “NO” when voting on a ballot measure.
How to Use the Touch Screen Voting Machine

At the top of the column for each candidate contest, there are instructions to indicate how many candidates you can vote for.  In some contests, such as Governor or District Attorney, there is only one office available.  In that case, you will see the words “Vote for One.”  In other contests, such as school board member or city council, there may be more than one seat available.  In those cases, you will see the words “Vote for No More Than Two” or “Vote for No More Than Three,” for example.

How to “write-in” a Different Candidate Name


For each candidate contest, there is a blank space at the bottom of the list of candidate names.  This space can be used by the voter to enter the name of a qualified write-in candidate.  A voter may select a write-in candidate only if he or she does not wish to vote for any of the candidates named on the ballot. 


Using paper ballots, after writing in the name of the candidate, connect the head and tail of the arrow next to the write-in space.


Using a touch screen is different.  Simply touch the screen in the write-in space area and a screen that looks like a keyboard will appear for you to type the name of the write-in candidate.  After typing the name, select the “OK” button for the touch screen to record your write-in vote.  This will bring you back to the candidate contest screen and you should see the name you typed and a check mark in the circle next to the name.


DID YOU KNOW?  State Election Law says that a write-in vote can ONLY be counted if the person has filed paperwork to become a qualified write-in candidate.  That means that if a voter writes a name in the write-in space that does not match any person who has filed paperwork, the votes cannot be counted.  This is true no matter how many people write-in the same name.

DID YOU KNOW?  All write-in votes are hand counted by workers because the vote counting machines cannot actually read the name that the voter wrote.  The write-in name must match the official list of write-in candidates, and the voter must write the name in the right contest or it cannot be counted.  This manual review can take many hours or days, especially in high turnout elections.  Extra time is also needed in cases where many voters choose to use the write-in space to write in a name, even if the name is not that of someone who qualified. 


In the June 2010 election, there were 14,400 write-in votes to review.  This took a team of 15 people 8 full days to complete, at a cost of about $20,000.  Voters wrote the names of Disney characters, the names of pets, the word “Me,” and “none of the above.”  More than 50% of the ballots reviewed didn’t have any name written in but the voter still connected the arrow as if they voted for someone.  In the end, only 87 out of 14,400 write-in votes counted.

So, no matter how many people vote for Mickey Mouse, unfortunately, he will never win.

What is an Overvote?

Because we use paper ballots, HAVA requires that we give information on the effects of overvoting and how to request a new, or replacement ballot. 


An overvote is when a voter has made more marks on the ballot than the maximum number of votes allowed for a contest.  For example, the candidate contest indicates “Vote for No More than Two” and the voter votes for more than two candidates.  It may help voters to review their paper ballot to make sure they have not overvoted by mistake.  The overvoted contests are flagged by the paper ballot counting machine and cannot be tallied.  All other properly marked contests on the paper ballot will be counted.  Our touch screen voting machine is designed to keep you from overvoting by mistake. 

What is an Undervote?

An undervote is when a voter has made fewer marks on a ballot than the maximum number of votes allowed for a contest. For example, the candidate contest tells the voter “Vote for No More than Two” and the voter may only vote for one.  Undervoting can also mean leaving one or more contests or the entire ballot blank. It may help voters to review their paper ballot to make sure they have not missed any contests by mistake.  Undervoted ballots are counted and reported, even if completely blank.  Our touch screen voting machine will tell voters if they have undervoted. If this happens they will be able to go back and vote on any missed contests.

Requesting a New Ballot When You Spoil the First One

At the polls:  Return the spoiled ballot to the poll worker and ask for a new one. 

By Mail:  Place the spoiled ballot in the blue return envelope. Be sure to check the box in the upper right corner on the flap of the envelope to show you want a new ballot. Then sign, date, and return the envelope to the Department.  We will send you a new ballot in the mail.  You can also return the ballot in person directly to the Department. You can also bring it to your assigned polling place up to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.


If you do not bring your vote by mail ballot with you on Election Day to give to the poll worker, you will be asked to vote on a Provisional Ballot.


Please – No Other Marks on Your Ballot!


DID YOU KNOW?  State Election Law says that if a voter puts any mark on the ballot that can lead to the voter’s identity (name, initials, signature), then the elections official cannot count that ballot?  Why?  Because the California Constitution requires that all votes are kept secret and because everything we do is open to the public, someone may know how you voted!  Please don’t put any marks on your ballot!  If you have made a mistake, cross it off and make it clear what your choice is or request a new ballot.



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