The form of ballot you’ve used to cast your vote in an election has changed over history. From voting by marble, to voting on paper, to using computer devices to assist people vote, the advancement of technology has broadened the idea of what a ballot is. The California Elections Code defines “ballot” as any of the following when referring to the election process:
(a) The combination of a card with number positions that is marked by the voter and the accompanying reference page or pages containing the names of candidates and the ballot titles of measures to be voted on with numbered positions corresponding to the numbers on the card.
This is commonly referred to as a, “butterfly ballot.”
(b) One or more cards upon which are printed the names of the candidates and the ballot titles of measures to be voted on by punching or marking in the designated area.
Voting by “punching” a hole to indicate your vote were commonly referred to as, “punch-card ballots” and are no longer in use.
(c) One or more sheets of paper upon which are printed the names of candidates and the ballot titles of measures to be voted on by marking the designated area and that are tabulated manually or by optical scanning equipment.
This is the most commonly used approved ballot system in California. This system is used in the County of Santa Clara in combination with the ballot described in (d)(2) below.
(d) (1) An electronic touchscreen upon which appears the names of candidates and ballot titles of measures to be voted on by touching the designated area on the screen for systems that do not contain a paper ballot.
(2) An electronic touchscreen may qualify as a ballot even for systems that contain paper ballots if the votes are tabulated manually or by optical scanning equipment. This is used in combination with ballot system described in (c), and is beneficial to voters with mobility or vision impairment issues and enables voting independently.