Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton.

California. Commission for examining voting machines. Report to the senate and assembly, 33rd session of the legislature online

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Accession No.

. Class







Examining, Testing and Investigating










Examining, Testing and Investigating








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To the Senate and Assembly of the
Thirty-third Session of the Legis-
lature of the State of California :

Du compliance with an Act (see Appendix "A") passed
at the last session of the Legislature approved March
27, 1897, creating a Commission for the purpose of examining,
testing and investigating Voting Machines, the undersigned
were duly appointed Commissioners by the Governor. On
May 21, 1897, this Commission met in San Francisco and
organized by the election of W. M. Hinton as president and
C. B. Morgan as secretary. An office was engaged in the
Central Bank Building, Oakland, and regular meetings were
ordered to be held on the first and third Saturdays in each
month. Notice of the organization of the Commission, the
time and place of meeting, and the purpose for which it was
created, was given to the Associated Press and generally
published in the newspapers. Special notice was given, from
time to time, by letter containing a copy of the Act creating
the Commission, to the following named Inventors and those
interested in Voting Machines:


May 25, 1897. .Hamilton Kibbie Oblong, 111.

May 25, 1897. .F. X. St. Louis Elk Creek P. O., Glenn Co.,


June 5, 1897 . . A. O, Abbott Hudson, Mich.

June 5, 1897 John Blocher Franklin Grove, 111.

June 5, 1897. .S. Aronson Brooklyn, N. Y.

June 5, 1897 . . Geo .A Cline Toronto, Canada

June 5, 1897. .E. H. Davis Elmira, N. Y.

June 7, 1897. .D. Dobbins Franklin, Ind.

June 7, 1897 . . S. E. Davis Rochester, N. Y.

June 7, 1897 . . W. W. Ford Longview, Tex.

June 7, 1897 . A. J. Gillespie Atlantic, Iowa

June 7, 1897. .F. H. Gilbert Ridgefield, Wash.

June 9, 1897. .C. Christensen 1115 loth Ave., East Oakland



June 9, 1897 . . Wm. H. Honiss . . Hartford, Conn.

June 5, 1897. .L. S. Harmsen Minneapolis, Minn.

June 9, 1897. .L. Y. McConnell Rochester, N. Y.

June 9, 1897 . . J. H. Myers Rochester, N. Y,

June 9, 1897 . ..P. S. McGee Dodgeville, Mass.

June 9, 1897. J. H. McTammauy Spencer, Mass.

June 5, 1897 . . C. F. Roper Hopedale, Mass.

June 9, 1897.. . C. A. Stitzer Central City, Neb.

June 9, 1897. J. H. vScotford Portland, Or.

June 9, 1897. .Geo. W. Trahan Howena, La.

June 10, 1897 . . F. C. Moseback 522 Montgomery St. , S. F.

June 10, 1897.. C. E. Stanton Santa Ana, Orange Co., Cal.

June 12, 1897. .G. E. Kennedy Livermore, Cal.

June 12, 1897 . J. B. Clot San Franciso, Cal.

June 12, 1897. .S. Ducas San Francisco, Cal.

June 12, 1897. .H. A. Clifford San Francisco, Cal.

June 12, 1897. J. Mourot Modesto, Cal.

June 12, 1897. .T. D. Strong San Francisco, Cal.

June 12, 1897. J. G. Sweeney Petaluma, Cal.

June 14, 1897. .Dr. A. Grim Franklin Grove, 111.

June 16, 1897. .Daniel Davis 115 E. Henry St., Elraira,

N. Y.

June 1 6, 1897. .A. S. Hamilton.. Rochester, N. Y.

Aug. 27, 1897 . . A. B. Foster Oakland, Cal.

Sept. 8, 1897. .C. L. Sturges Escondido, Cal.

Sept. 30,1897. . Wm. R. Pike St. Paul, Minn.

Oct. 2, 1897. .Henry Weber N. Temescal, Cal.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Lorenzo J. Markoo White Bear, Minn.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Henry H. Niebur Ferndale, Cal.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Edwin B. Olmstead.... Delevan, N. Y.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Edwin G. Richards Sharon, Mass.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Enoch H. Towne Worcester, Mass.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Rhines Ballot System Co. . .St. Paul, Minn.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Clinton L. Bancroft Browns, Hurnboldt Co, Cal.

Oct. 20, 1897. .A. C. Beranck Chicago, 111.

Oct. 20, 1897. Jas. G. H. Buck Dallas, Tex.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Edwin B. Cummings Indianapolis, Ind.

Oct. 20, 1897. . Wm. M. Cutter Marysrille, Cal.

Oct. 20, 1897. ..Montana Vote Registering.

Machine Co Missoula, Mont.

Oct. 20, 1897. .Thos. G. Ferguson Colby, Kas.

Oct. 20, 1897. Jas. G. Hardy, Jr Canton, N. Y.

Oct. 20, 1897. .R. A. Hart Battle Creek, Mich.

Dec. n, 1897.. .Davis Voting Machine Co.. .New York, N. Y.

Dec. n, 1897. .Clarence A. Evans Upland, Penn.

Dec. ii, 1897. .U. S. Voting Machine Co. Jamestown, N. Y.
Dec. n, 1897. .George M. Greer McCool Junction, Neb.

~ 5-


Dec. ii, 1897. .Chas. R. Refer Hopedale, Mass.

Jan. 13, 1898. .Clement de Croes Westport, Ind.

Jan. 13, 1898... Jas. J. Cunningham and

Eugene H. Mullen Lynn, Mass.

Mar. 18, 1897. .Turner Voting Machine Co. Indianapolis, Ind.

June 24, 1898 . John K. Hogan Placerville, Cal.

July 21, 1898. .A. J. Bolfing San Francisco, Cal.

Aug. 15, 1898. .Albert Snoock Hartford, Conn.

And responses, in person or by letter, were received from:

Hamilton Kibbie Oblong, 111.

F. X. St. Louis Elk Creek P. O. , Glenn Co. ,

A. C. Abbott .Hudson, Mich.

E. H. Davis Elmira, N. Y.

A. J. Gillespie Atlantic, Iowa.

F. H. Gilbert Ridgefield, Wash.

C. Christensen 1115 loth Ave., E. Oakland,


Wm. H. Honiss Hartford, Conn.

J. H. Myers Rochester, N. Y.

J. H. McTamtnany Spencer, Mass.

P. C. Moseback 522 Montgomery St., S. F.

C. E. Stanton Santa Ana, Orange Co., Cal.

G. E. Kennedy Livermore, Cal.

H. A. Clifford San Francisco, Cal.

J. Mourot Modesto, Cal.

J. G. Sweeney Petaluma, Cal.

Dr. A. Grim Franklin Giove, 111.

Daniel Davis 1 15 E. Henry St. , Elmira,

N. Y.

A. B. Foster Oakland, Cal.

C. L. Sturges Escondido, Cal .

Wm. R. Pike St. Paul, Minn.

Henry Weber N. Temesoal, Cal.

Henry H. Niebur Ferndale, Cal.

Edwin B. Olnistead Delevan, N. Y.

Clinton L. Bancroft Browns, Humboldt Co., Cal

Edwin B. Cummings Indianapolis, Ind.

Thos. G. Ferguson Colby, Kas.

Davis Voting Machine Co. .New York, N. Y.

Clarence A. Evans Upland, Penn.

Clement de Croes Westport, Ind.

Cunningham & Mullen. . . .Lynn, Mass.
Turner Voting Machine Co. Indianapolis, Ind.

J. C. Garrett San Francisco, Cal.

Jap Jones Oakland, Cal.


Jeff Kindleberger San Francisco, Cal.

Standard Voting Machine

Co Rochester, N. Y.

S. A. Crumrine Los Angeles, Cal.

A. J. Bolfing San Francisco, Cal.

The question whether a provision for independent voting
was a necessary legal requirement arose early in our investi-
gations. In order to obtain light upon this subject the
secretary was, on July 3, 1897, directed to address the
Attorney- General upon the subject, and reference is hereby
made to Appendix " B " for the correspondence which

Article 2, Section 1197, of the Political Code provides:
" There shall be left at the end of the list of candidates for
each office as many blank spaces as there are persons to be
elected to such office, in which the voter may insert the name
of any person not printed upon the ballot for whom he desires
to vote as candidates for such office, and the name and blank
spaces on the whole ticket shall be consecutively numbered."
Whether this be merely a Legislative provision or a Constitu-
tional requirement, it can be maintained, and modified so as
to be adapted to Machine Voting.

The additional mechanism required to permit a voter to
exercise such a privilege or right, of necessity, adds to the
cost of a machine and complicates its movements and prolongs
the time required in canvassing the result at the close of the
poll. Machines without such attachments will show the re-
sults of the poll as rapidly as they can be read. If, however,
an election should be contested on the ground that any voter
had been denied a constitutional right in consequence of no
provision having been made for independent voting, and such
contest should be sustained by the Supreme Court, the invest-
ment in such machines would be lost. This would involve
the loss of large sums of money and is a risk which can be
avoided by the adoption of a machine which provides for
independent voting. Some machines which are provided with
an attachment for independent voting preserve secrecy better
than the present ballot system, as the independent vote can-
not be associated with the votes cast for regular nominees.
Under the present ballot system any ballot can be readily

dentified by the voter and his patron arranging for a given
name to be written upon a given blank space (see Sec. 1197
Art. II) and the secrecy of the ballot be destroyed.

The newly adopted charter of San Francisco provides for
the election of eighteen Supervisors, to be elected at large, at
each election, Under the present ballot system eighteen
blank spaces would be provided for a voter to write in such
names as he might desire, and any attempt on the part of a
voter to vote repeatedly for the same person would be
apparent and such repeated votes, under existing law, would
not be counted. If no check is provided against cumulative
voting in the attachment for independent voting on a machine,
the door would be opened to favor unnominated candidates
over those regularly nominated. Thus: Eighteen votes for
Supervisor could be given by one voter to the man of his
choice while those regularly nominated could receive but one
vote from each voter, except on such machines as designedly
permit of cumulative voting. It becomes, therefore, of vital
importance that any device for independent voting must
detect and, unless permitted, prevent cumulative voting.

In order to permit a voter to write the name of any per-
son not printed upon the ticket for whom he desires to vote,
the inventors of voting machines have resorted to several
systems. Amongst these may be mentioned First : The
dual system of machine and ballot box voting, which affords
the voter the option of voting by either method and which
necessitates the adding together of the results of each to ob-
tain the total vote for each candidate; Second : A device to
permit the voter to deposit some kind of a ballot within the
machine ; Third : A recording scroll attached to the machine
upon which a voter can write, but confining all such votes to
a lineal space for each voter so as to detect repeating.

The first system presents no improvement upon the
present ballot system and would only tend to complicate it.
The second offers little, if any, advantage over the first, as
the count of the ballots would have to be added to the results
shown upon the machines in order to obtain the total vote of
each candidate.

If only one ballot was employed upon which the names
of all candidates voted for would have to be written, such


ballot could readily be identified by writing an agreed name
upon it. The same objection would apply if but one ballot
for co-ordinate offices should be used. In both those cases
voters who might desire to vote for, say, seventeen regularly
nominated candidates for Supervisor and one not nominated,
would be obliged to write the names of the eighteen and would
thus be subjected "to casting their votes upon more burden-
some conditions than are imposed upon others no better en-
titled under the fundamental law to the free and untramrneled
exercise of the right of suffrage." (Eaton vs. Brown 96Cal.)
On the other hand, if ballots upon which only one name could
be written were used, it would be necessary, in order to
detect cumulative voting, to have all ballots used by one
voter numbered alike. Such ballots would necessarily have
to be small and for the purpose of canvassing would have to
be segregated and placed in line. Should a large number of
such ballots be cast (for instance for eighteen Supervisors) the
system would prove impractical and be exposed to fraud by
substituting prepared ballots for those cast by the voters.

The third system will show at the close of the polls an
immediate and complete return of the votes cast for all
regularly nominated candidates whose names appear printed
upon the ballots attached to the machines, and from the
nature of the case the independent vote must be counted
separately as no one can foresee how many or for whom such
votes will be cast.

In this connection it is to be borne in mind that any
voting system is like a chain its weakest link is the measure
of its strength. In the past, independent voting (aside from
its use to identify a ballot) has offered no opportunity for
abuse, but if in providing for independent voting in connec-
tion with machine voting an opportunity is opened for fraud,
it is safe to predict that this fraudulent method of voting will
be largely developed.

Inventors in designing voting machines, as a rule, have
adopted one of two plans, i.e., First: The arrangement of
parties at right angles to the offices to be filled, thus :











City Attorney

City Engineer

or the reverse arrangement and

Second : The arrangement of candidates in groups for
the same office, practically as they are now printed upon the
ballots under the existing law. By the first plan an increase
in the number of parties or independent candidates in excess
of the columns established upon the machine would render
such machine useless for the purpose of conducting an elec-
tion. In view of the tendency to increase in the number of
parties this becomes a matter of much importance, as an
increase in the number of parties in excess of the capacity of
a Machine would block an election.

The second plan permits an increase in the number of
parties and candidates by coupling machines together until
all candidates have been accommodated.

Under the first plan the following machines have been
designed :

Standard Voting Machine Co.
H. H. Niebur.
U. S, Ballot Box.

And under the second plan are the following :
California Voting Machine Co.
Christ Christensen.
Ellis Ballot Machine Co.
National Voting Machine.

In designing Voting Machines, inventors have in many
cases arranged for the casting of an entire party vote by the
movement of one key, simultaneously locking all others.
Under the decision of the Supreme Court of this State in
Eaijton vs. Brown, California Reports 96, folio 371, "Voters
can only express their choice by placing a stamp opposite the
name of their candidate for each office or by writing the
name of a candidate in a blank space left therefor or their


answer to each question or proposition or proposed amend-
ment to the Constitution, except only in case of presidential
electors, who may under the law be voted for in groups by a
single impression of the stamp."

The above ruling applied to a voting machine would ren-
der mechanisms for casting a party vote by the operation of
one key superfluous, and such mechanisms if retained would
only tend to confuse a voter. Machines designed for candi-
dates for the same office to be grouped together and for all
candidates to be voted for separately, correspond with the
existing law and rulings in this State the provision in the
case of presidential electors excepted.

Machines in which a paper roll is provided upon which a
voter can write the names of those for whom he desires to
vote, whose names do not appear upon the printed ballot,
make it possible to write a key name, if two or more co-ordi-
nate offices are to be voted for at large. This applies to any
form of ballot, and any attempt to prevent it involves a con-
tradiction or opens the door for cumulative voting. The
only absolute solution is either to forbid independent voting
or to permit every voter to file a complete list of candidates
to be printed on the bollot. The first method might prove to
be unconstitutional and the latter would be a practical

The use of a paper roll for the independent vote, disas-
sociated from the voting keys for regular candidates, while
not theoretically perfect, appears to be the nearest practical
solution of the subject.

In investigating and testing voting machines we have
found two dangers to be guarded against : one, manipula-
tion on the part of a voter to cause the machine to register
more than such voter is entitled to ; and the other, manipula-
tion on the part of the person charged with preparing the
machine for an election, by which the returns may be

Machines which record all the votes cast by each individ-
ual by one movement, after or as the voter leaves the voting
booth, are less liable to be tampered with by the voter than
those which attempt to lock each key as the voter proceeds
to cast his vote. The separate locking of each voting device,

as used, is open to the objection that it prevents a voter from
correcting a mistake, while those which operate all the regis-
tering devices by one motion, only record the used keys as
left by the voter and hence afford no temptation or possibility
for repeating.

The danger of manipulation of the machinery on the
part of the persons charged with preparing the machines for
an election is not so easily guarded against in the design and
construction of the machine, but to meet this difficulty we
would suggest, in case the legislature adopts a machine which
provides for the arrangement of candidates in groups for one
office, that : "As soon as the period for recording nomina-
tions by parties and by petition is dosed, all machines to be
used in the ensuing election shall be examined and put into
order by expert officers, to be appointed by the Board of
Election Commissioners ; and the counting mechanism placed
at zero. The machines shall then be locked and sealed so as
to prevent any access to the working parts. Ten days before
the holding of an election the name of each candidate for the
same office or co-ordinate offices shall be written on a sepa-
rate piece of paper, which shall be folded so that the name
written thereon cannot be seen or read without unfolding the
same ; and when the names are so written and folded they
shall be placed in a box to be provided for the purpose and
thoroughly shaken. The Board of Election Commissioners
shall then open said box in the presence of a majority of
said Board and in the presence of such members of the vari-
ous political parties as may be present to witness the same,
and shall then take from said box such slips of paper and the
names thus drawn for each group of candidates shall be
placed upon the machines in the order in which they are
taken from the box. If a machine with party columns is
adopted, the columns could be drawn for in like manner. By
the adoption of this method all temptation to prepare a count-
ing mechanism so as to favor or injure the record of a candi-
date would be removed and all danger of the manipulation of
the machine by those charged with preparing same for an
election would be eliminated. This method would also
remove the objection to the present alphabetical arrangement
of names on the ballot, which tends to favor candidates


whose names commence with the early letters of the alphabet.

Special provisions to fit the construction of any voting
machine which may be authorized by the legislature will
have to be substituted for the detailed instructions governing
election boards now incorporated in the election laws of the
State, but no radical change in the methods of conducting
elections will be required in substituting the machine for the
ballot. It will be advisable to retain Section 1210 of Art. II.
(Appendix "C") so modified as to furnish instructions to
voters how to use machines for voting and furnish them with
a fac-simile of the ballot as placed on the machines.

By the use of machines it will be possible to avoid such
crudities as are involved in Sec. 1255, Art. II, which reads,
in part: "The ballots must be immediately replaced in the
box and if the ballots in the box exceed in number the names
on the lists, one of the judges must publicly and without
looking in the box, draw out therefrom singly and destroy,
unopened, a number of ballots equal to such excess."

Under this provision no voter is certain that his vote will
be counted the ballot of an honest elector may be cancelled
and the fraudulent one retained. The mere casting of a bal-
lot does not insure its being counted or, if canvassed, that it
will be read off correctly. In a properly designed machine
every vote cast will be correctly counted and no more votes
can be cast than the total number of voters taking part in the
election .

We have examined in detail the following inventions :

J. G. SWEENEY, San Francisco, Cal.

His system consists of tally sheets enclosed in a case with
glass top and sides. In each case there are four tally sheets
arranged in two columns, each column occupying half the
length of the case. Two of the tally sheets are attached to
each of a double set of rollers, which operate to move the
tally sheets one voting space for each voter. The names of
all regularly nominated candidates are printed in columns and
are fixed on one side and in the middle of the case, so that
when the tally sheets, which are ruled in parallel lines the
length of such sheets, are moved, the spaces between such
lines come opposite the names of the candidates, Slots are


cut in the glass top of the case so that an X can be stamped
upon the tally sheet opposite the candidates for whom a voter
may desire to vote, and all the X's thus stamped appear in
line. If a voter desire to vote for a person whose name is not
printed upon the ballot he can write the name upon the tally
sheet crosswise through the slot. As each voter completes
stamping the tally sheet and leaves the booth, an election
officer moves a handle outside the booth, which moves the
part of the tally sheet used by the voter out of sight and
rings a bell to indicate that the act has been completed. The
unused portion of the tally sheet, for a space of about six
inches, is always in view of the voters, through the glass top
of the case, so that if any X's were stamped upon the tally
sheet in advance of the election, such action would be open
to detection. For an election two or more of such cases are
used in each precinct and at the close of the polls all of the
tally sheets are taken from the cases and are placed in a square
basket, where they are so shaken that the identity of each is
lost and all knowledge of the continuity of the voters who
have used them is destroyed. Each tally list is then placed
back into the cases and passed under the open slots for in-
spection so as to discover whether any voter has exceeded the
number of votes to which he was entitled. If such be found the

election officers stamp such excess X's with a circle, thus:

After all the tally sheets have been inspected they are taken
from the cases and are separately placed upon a table and the

number of X's (j) omitted for each candidate are counted
and the total set down at the right end of the sheet. After
such count is completed the tally sheets, which are lettered
AA, BB, etc., to correspond with a like lettering upon the
section of the ballot appearing upon the top of the machine,
are placed in juxtaposition to their respective sections of the
ballot, and not until then is the count for each candidate dis-

This system would save the printing, numbering and
binding of ballots, the services of ballot-clerks on an election
board, and would obviate the misreading of ballots, either by
accident or design, as well as the mistakes which, under the


present system, are possible in marking the tally sheets. In
other words, the voter would record his wishes directly upon
the tally sheet without the intervention of ballots and officials.
The size of the machine is not objectionable and the system
can be mechanically carried out in a simple and satisfactory

The system does not, however, overcome one objection
to the present ballot system: i. e., the identifying the act of a
voter by writing a key name in independent voting. As all the
X's of one voter appear in line when the tally sheet is being
inspected, a given name written upon the tally sheet through
the slot, will disclose the voter to any one in the secret who
has access to the inspection. The use of a lever in charge of
an election officer to move the tally sheet forward, while im-

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Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonCalifornia. Commission for examining voting machines. Report to the senate and assembly, 33rd session of the legislature → online text (page 1 of 4)