Electronic Voting

A Strategy for Managing the Voting Process



Voter & Poll Worker Surveys – Procedure


As part of the inquiry into the electronic voting, the Grand Jury was interested in the voter response to the changes, poll worker training, and observing Election Day procedures.


Two informal survey forms were developed to gather voter and poll worker response. 


Grand Jury members signed up to observe at the polling places of their choice and at the time they desired to participate. 


Attending a poll worker training was an option offered to the jury members.  Some but not all jury members elected to attend the training.


Each participating jury member was given a packet of materials at the full panel meeting.  This packet included the following:


·        Blank Voter Survey Forms in English and Spanish

·        Blank Poll Worker Survey Forms

·        An ID Badge from the County Elections Department

·        A letter of introduction from the Registrar of Voters

·        Poll observation instructions from the Registrar of Voters

·        Clipboards and pencils


Voters could either fill out the survey on their own or give their answers to the jury member who recorded their responses.


Poll workers were given the opportunity to fill out the surveys on the spot or when they had time during the day, with a jury member coming back to collect them.


At the end of Election Day, each participating jury member returned their materials to a box in the jury room along with their observations at various precincts. The results were tallied and all responses recorded.  The following is the compilation results of the voter and poll worker surveys. Due to the volume of written comments, a sampling of the comments is included here.  


A total of 320 voter surveys were collected and tallied.

A total of 104 poll workers surveys were collected and tallied. 


    Voters Survey and Tallied Responses                                           Total:    320

1.       Did you vote using the touch screen or the optical scanner, and why?


o     Touch Screen:…………………………….      57

o     Optical Scanner:…………………………………………….    245 

o     Absentee…………………………………………………………………………17 

o     Audio system……………………………………………………………………………………1


Why?                                                    Touch Screen           Optical       Absentee          Audio                                                   

o     Available:…………………………………..     16                            82                    1                       0            

o     Ease of Use:……………………………….      14                            53                    3                          0

o     Trustworthy:………………………………         3                           55                    0                          0

o     Other:………………………………………       22                            40                    0                          0


A)      If you used the touch screen, how did you check your vote?

o     Touch Screen:            ………………     10

o     Voter Verified Paper Trail:..    12

o     Both:………………………….      28

o     Neither:………………………        2


B)  If you used the optical scanner, did it accept your ballot easily?

o     Yes:………………………….......................         207

o     No:………………………………………….     7


Please answer the following questions on a scale of 1 to 5.  


2.   Were the instructions for voting clear and easy to understand?

Touch Screen                          1   1                  2   1                  3   0                  4   7                  5    44    N/A --- 1



Optical Scanner           1   2                  2   3                  3   13                4   46                5  177


      Absentee/Audio                                                           3   1                                          5    9





3.       How easy was it to cast your vote?

Touch Screen              1   0                  2   1                   3   1                 4   5                  5   47



Optical Scanner           1   2                  2   1                  3   11                 4   24                5   205


      Absentee/Audio                                                                                   4   1                  5   7        N/A---- 1

4.       Were the poll workers helpful?

Touch Screen              1   0                  2   0                  3   1                  4   2                  5   50      N/A---- 1

                                          Not Helpful-----------------------------------------------------------------------Helpful


Optical Scanner           1   1                  2   1                  3   4                  4   33                5   212

                                          Not Helpful-----------------------------------------------------------------------Helpful

Absentee/Audio                                                                                                           5   8        N/A---- 1



5.       Do you feel comfortable with the new voting methods?

Touch Screen              1   0                  2   2                  3   1                  4   4                  5   48

                                          Uncomfortable--------------------------------------------------------- Comfortable


Optical Scanner           1   17                2   7                  3   28                4   30                5   170


Absentee                                                                     3   1                                          5   5        N/A---- 2

Audio                                                                                                                           5   1



Absentee Voter Comments:


·        Voters surveyed said they chose to vote absentee because of the convenience it affords and out of a lack of trust of voting machines. Two respondents said taking time during the day to vote did not fit in with their work hours, and three reported that they appreciated the additional time they could take filling out the ballot. Respondents also pointed to voting machine software being “too easy to hack into,” news reports of tampering with voting machine software and concern that their vote “might not count” as reasons for voting absentee.

Voter Comments on Touch Screen:


·        Asked whether they used the touch screen or optical scanner, and why, voters responded that they chose the touch screen out of curiosity, a desire to “try the latest technology,” and to generate less paper waste.

·        Regarding whether the machines were easy to use, voters responded that “the instructions weren’t clear and the system wasn’t very well thought-out,” and that they could envision “the elderly having a lot of problems with the touch screen system.” Some voters thought that the system was“not particularly user friendly,” while others responded that “it was as easy as pie to use

·        A comment was received that poll workers should be better screened as to their ability to perform needed tasks.” However, another voter admitted that they had not read instructions in using the touch screen. Voters were also asked about reviewing their ballot after they had voted.

·        “The only problem was in reviewing my ballot. I made a mistake – how to make a correction was not intuitive,” said one respondent. “You had to actually touch the button of the candidate you mistakenly voted for to “undo” your vote.  And then vote for the correct candidate,” another responded.

·        General comments regarding the touch screen voting machine included enthusiasm for the new technology in comments such as “it was fun to be the first,” “it went pretty fast,.” and “there were too few machines so we had to wait in line. But the machines were great!” Wariness of the new system was also clearly evident through comments such as “needed pencil eraser to actually ‘touch’ screen,” “unclear what to do with a mistake,” “change of vote not easy or clear “did not get a receipt; did I really vote?” and “I am a computer/electronics engineer, and do not trust the new electronic system. The ability will always exist with them to tamper with the results and not leave a trace.”
 “Great new technology!”/ “Great system and location. Easy parking!   Thank you.”/
 “I am slow catching on  - curious – good idea – I could really check corrected / mistake”

Voter Comments on Optical Scanner:

·        Asked whether they had used the touch screen or optical scanner, and why, voters said they did not know there was a choice, that they had been “directed” to the optical scanner, or that they had been handed a paper ballot. Others said they had tried the touch screen, but had trouble working with it and given up, that a touch screen was not available at the precinct at the time they voted, that they felt there was less opportunity for failure than with the touch screen, and that they felt it was a faster ways of voting than the touch screen. Other voters responded that they felt the optical scanner was more “trustworthy” than the touch screen and that “one mistake (on the touch screen) spoils the ballot” and it then has to be entirely redone. Many respondents offered positive comments regarding the optical scanners, including “great—easy and quick,” “liked the paper,” “I feel good that my vote will count,” “very convenient and easy,” and “so much better than in the past.”

·        Asked about poll worker assistance with the optical scanners, voters surveyed were highly complimentary of the poll workers. One said it “would have been helpful for poll workers to advise/warn that paper method writing has changed from bubble to fill in arrow” while another suggested vests or arm bands to distinguish poll workers from voters in some of the larger precinct voting stations.

·        Asked specifically about their impressions of the optical scanner ballot and equipment, voters noted confusion over the supposed need for a “special pen” to record votes when a regular ball point pen seemed to work fine,” and uncertainty involving where and how to draw an arrow on the screen to register a vote for a particular person or issue compared with the previous method of punching a hole on the ballot. Other concerns involved the ballot being “too big” “bulky,” or “cumbersome,” a need for more voting booths and booths to be bigger, and a desire that the Election Day ballot more closely mirror the appearance of the Sample Ballot sent out before the election so that voters are familiar with it. One voter expressed concern that the system can be intimidating to people who are not naturally assertive.

·        Voters were surveyed about the paper trail created by using an optical scanner ballot. Several voters expressed a strong preference for a paper trail, again citing concern over the possibility for fraud. One voter expressed acceptance of the current system, responding that problems are “yet to be seen,” but much more frequently voters expressed distrust in the use of computers in voting, citing the possibility that voting data can be “manipulated,” or that computer voter fraud could contribute to a “bloodless coup.” Some voter comments included: “our system has lost control to possible fraud;” “I’m against computers, unless the (there) is a clear paper trail to back up the results;” “I like the paper trail in case of recount;” “don’t trust the touch screen!”  and “electronic voting is problematic and requires a paper trail … to protect American democracy.” However, the paper trail generated by the optical scanner did not satisfy all voters. One voter responded that “I get my stub to prove I voted, but no printout of what I voted for.  I am suspicious of any electronic machine counting my vote!”



Poll workers Survey   (Part – 1)                  Declined ---- 1                            Total:   104



1.     Was the instructor knowledgeable and well acquainted with the material?


1   0                  2   4                  3   1                  4   14                5    80                    N/A -----------1




2.     Were the training materials well prepared and easy to understand?


1   2                  2   2                  3   9                  4   31                5   51                      N/A ------------1




3.     Was there enough hands-on training with the machines?


1   12                2   8                  3   15                4   19                5   31                      No training --1

None---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Enough             N/A ------------ 6   s


4.     Could the instructor answer all the participants’ questions?



1   0                  2   0                  3   8                  4   21                5   69                     

None-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------All                 N/A -------------1



5.     Did you feel well prepared and confident at the end of the training session?

1   0                    2   5                  3   19                4   42                5   33




Poll Worker Training Comments:


·        Poll workers reported positive experiences. They included: “It was unsettling when you first beginning but (the Elections Department was) able to answer all questions I had;” and “our inspector made the training and the voting poll experience a great one.” Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin and her training staff were complimented by poll workers.

·        Some poll workers reported that they had not taken a training class provided by the Elections Department and had not undergone training in how to use the new touch screen voting system. Some who had not undergone training, however, reported that they felt they were able to perform their job capably either with training on Election Day or with assistance from other more experienced poll workers at their precinct.

·        Comments by poll workers who experienced problems or had recommendations included: “Disorganized training materials. The presenters were not experienced with presenting the information even thought they were clearly the experts in the election material;” “not enough training on the process – too much on machines with no context.” A recurring response by poll workers suggested more hands-on training with the voting computers used on Election Day is needed. One poll worker responded,

·        “I felt well prepared by training and the handouts – the ‘special circumstances’ material was very, very helpful!  My recommendation is that when there is more than one precinct at a polling site, that an ‘inspector general’ would help alleviate confusion … in (interpreting) the guidelines and directions.”

·        Two poll workers echoed voters in responding that “ballots are too big for booth,” while another observed, “t he sample ballot used was too simple–—needs to be more real.” 


Poll workers Survey   (Part 2)                             Same 104 surveys continued.


Election day



6.             Did the training provide adequate guidelines for operations today?

1   2                  2   2                  3   18                4   23                5    48                    N/A ------  1




7.             Was your precinct staffed fully and correctly?


1   1                  2   2                  3   10                4   20                5   66

Understaffed-------------------------------------------------------------------------Well staffed





8.             Did you have problems setting up the equipment?


1   0                  2   0                  3   12                4   31                5   48                      N/A ------  2




9.             Did you remind every voter to look at the paper verification?

1   3                  2   2                  3   8                  4   11                5   47                      N/A ------  7




10.         Did the voting machines operate correctly?  If not, please describe the problems.

1   3                  2   1                  3   6                  4   13                5   58

Incorrect---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Correct              N/A ------  5



Poll Worker Comments on Voting Machines:

·        Poll workers were asked whether the voting machines operated correctly. Responses received included: “Optech Iinsight has no directions on machine to verify correct seating on alignment pin. Caused problem on first ballot;.” “by noon, (ballot holder) was full because it has absentee and pink ballots, too “screen sensitivity made some voting difficult—using rubber end of pencil helped;” “touch screen was hard to make selections at sometimes.” One poll worker reported, “In general, both machines appeared to work well (at least as of 3:20 p.m. when this survey was completed). Ballot scanner caught a number of over voted ballots, which is excellent.”

·        Problems with paper jamming in the printer were a recurring problem, according to several poll workers. Their comments included: “having paper problems, tape is running but is going off track;” and “tape broke 3 times, so our machines was not used much.” Two poll workers reported problems with their printers which made them inoperative for part of the day, but that the problems were addressed. “The printer was worked on quite a bit and was non-operational for a large part of the day. Once it was fixed it worked correctly,” one poll worker reported. Another stated,” Touch Screen printer was down at least two hours and required several visits by the tech rovers.”

Positive experience:

·        Two poll workers reported positive experiences with the voting machines. One reported that it “was set up when I arrived at 6:05 a.m. Very affirmative response to the Electronic Voting from the voters what used it.” The other reported, “Machines operation OK. Didn’t hear anyone screaming.”


11.         If you needed help solving a problem, was the support from field coordinators available in a timely manner?

1                      2   1                  3   3                  4   12                5   48                      N/A-----   4




Poll Worker Comments on Support on Election Day:

·        Poll workers were asked, “If you needed help, was the support provided in a timely manner?” Many respondents reported positive experiences, with comments including, “I enjoyed my day today everyone made it very pleasant“my co-workers were wonderful, kind, patient and knowledgeable,” and “very responsive.   Why is the grand jury spending time on such a successful department and smooth operation?”

·        Poll workers also reported mixed responses to the timeliness of calls to the Elections Department for help. They included: “Inspectors very knowing & helpful!” “phone calls went unanswered;” “sometimes timely, sometimes not;” “machine tech was called about problem, arrived in about 10 minutes—will bring new machine.”


·        Some general observations and suggestions offered by poll workers included: “Paper ballots are very difficult to remove with voter stub.  Takes extra time to tear off properly.  Need a sign on scanner that says BALLOT BOX;” “precinct number on voter pamphlet should be in much larger print;” “need more touch screens!  Too many people had to wait!” and “I am amazed and impressed by the thoroughness of the checks to make sure the election is not tampered with by anyone.  Kudos to Santa Cruz Election Dept.”.


Election Day Observations by Grand Jury Members Observing at the Polls

·        A number of precincts were combined to make better use of handicapped access.  In one instance three precincts were combined because of facility handicapped access.  In attempting to follow the mandates of the law, other voters were displaced from their usual voting places and expressed concern and frustration when they had to leave to find their “new” polling place.  The county moved precincts around and voters were observed being confused and sent to other sites. Touch screen machines were shared by three precincts at one voting location. Only the operator enters the precinct number into the machine, which can create confusion.

·        A number of voters told poll workers that they did not get their absentee ballots. One precinct had so many absentee ballots they had to band them with rubber bands. Absentee ballots are not secured; they can’t fit in the envelope provided by the Elections Department.

·        An inspector was sitting next to the voting machine which limited privacy for those voting with the electronic voting machine. People who came up to talk to the poll worker stood behind the voter and were not directed away from the voting area by the poll worker.

·        The time required to cast a vote seemed about the same for both electronic and paper.

·        Most people used the paper ballot at the U.C. Santa Cruz polling station.  Some did so and commented they were using it because they did not trust the touch screen.  As is typical at campus precincts, many of the voters who came to the UCSC polling station did not understand or know they had to go to their registered polling place. Many had registered at a different location and forgot where they were supposed to go. It happens all the time. A phone number was offered for them to call and find out their polling place. One student thought the county should provide a phone for voters to use to make the call to find their polling place.

·        This was a long ballot and took some time for voters to complete.  There was one touch screen and at times the wait for the unit was 20 minutes or more.  Most voters opted for paper if they thought the wait for the touch screen was too long. Not many actually wanted to use the touch screen, but a few who thought about it went to paper when the wait was too long.