California Voter Foundation Logo

News Releases

For Immediate Release, Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Contact: Kim Alexander, 916-441-2494
or Saskia Mills, 530-750-7650


Seven counties to use touchscreens with paper trails this November

Davis, CA -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed landmark legislation to require public auditing of software votes counts produced from electronic voting machines.

Senate Bill 370, authored by State Senator Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey), requires county election officials to use voter-verified paper audit trails to perform the one percent manual tally, a public procedure used in California since 1965 to give the public confidence in the accuracy of computer-counted election results.

"California is at the forefront of the nationwide election verification movement," said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the California Voter Foundation (CVF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting the responsible use of technology in the democratic process. "We supported SB 370 and urged the Governor to sign this bill because voters need and deserve to have a window into the vote counting process. By signing SB 370, the Governor ensures Californians can have a reasonable degree of confidence in the accuracy and integrity of software vote counts."

The enactment of SB 370 comes one year after California's Legislature passed and Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 1438, which requires electronic voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) beginning in the 2006 statewide primary. In the past two years, 25 states have enacted VVPAT requirements, and nearly half of those have also enacted laws that require using VVPATs to publicly audit software vote counts.

"The voter-verified paper audit trail serves two purposes," Alexander said. "It gives voters confidence that their own electronic ballot was properly recorded, and it gives election officials a meaningful audit trail to use to verify the accuracy of the overall software vote count." Although California's one percent manual tally has been required by law for four decades, counties that acquired electronic voting machines without VVPATs were unable to comply. Even after the California Legislature unanimously approved the paper trail bill, several county registrars indicated they did not intend to use the paper trails for the manual tally. The enactment of SB 370 ensures that a meaningful public audit of computer vote counts will take place in all 58 counties.

Several counties are not waiting until June 2006 to implement electronic voting machines with voter-verified paper audit trails. In the upcoming statewide special election on November 8, seven counties will deploy touchscreens with paper trails in their polling places. These include Imperial, Inyo, Kings, Mariposa, Mono, Monterey and San Bernardino, which have all acquired their voting equipment from Sequoia Voting Systems, and together comprise five percent of California's registered voters. Sequoia's touchscreens with VVPATs were used statewide in Nevada and in a pilot project in San Bernardino county last year.

The percentage of California's registered voters living in paperless electronic voting counties has fallen from 30 percent in November 2004 to 26 percent this year. Over two-thirds of California's voters live in paper-balloting counties. The California Voter Foundation monitors changes in California's voting equipment and publishes a voting technology map of all 58 counties on its web site, at

"California is moving in the right direction on election verification," Alexander said. "The enactment of SB 370 is a giant leap forward and will likely have a big impact on the rest of the nation," she added, citing a new, nationwide report on vote audits and recounts published by which highlighted SB 370. "Both paper-trail advocates and opponents are waiting and watching what happens in the most populous state in the country," according to the report. The Electionline report found that of the 25 states that have enacted voter-verified paper audit trail requirements, 14 require that VVPATs be used for recounts, and ten states - Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Washington and West Virginia - passed bills this year requiring or strengthening public auditing of election results.

"Just one year ago, California was one of only four states with laws requiring public auditing of election results," Alexander noted. "Today there are twelve. Two years ago, no states required a voter-verified paper audit trail on electronic voting machines. Now half of the states do. Those are fantastic improvements in a very short period of time."

Alexander noted that the widespread, grassroots support from Californians on SB 370 likely made a strong impact on the Governor. "This bill faced formidable opposition but it was supported by thousands of concerned voters who contacted the Governor and urged him to sign it." The Governor was responsive to those concerns, she added, referring to his signing message, which stated:

"I am signing this measure because I believe that using the voter verified paper audit trails to audit the accuracy of overall election results will provide confidence in the accuracy and integrity of votes cast on these machines to California voters."


Site Map | Privacy Policy | About

This page was first published on October 11 , 2005 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
Copyright California Voter Foundation, All Rights Reserved.