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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Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonCalifornia. Commission for examining voting machines. Report to the senate and assembly, 33rd session of the legislature → online text (page 3 of 4)
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to write the names of those for whom they desire to vote and
the principle of "more burdensome conditions" is not carried
to reductio ad absurdum. A corresponding practical con-
struction of the law would doubtless permit of the use of a
lever for the purpose of facilitating the arrangement of the
keys for voting.

This machine is thoroughly adapted for an election in
which the number of candidates for a single office does not
exceed eight and for co-ordinate offices forty (five only to be
elected), but any increase in the number of candidates for a
single office or for a group in excess of five to be elected for
co-ordinate offices, is beyond the mechanical limits of the
interlocking mechanism of the machine. These difficulties
can only be overcome by the adoption of a new interlocking
device or by a law raising the percentage required for a posi-
tion upon the ballot and limiting the number of officers to be
elected at large to five.

The machine is finely constructed and is easily adjusted
to meet the requirements of succeeding elections ; all the
movements are positive and only a tension spring for the paper
roll is used. In operation any voter is capable of compre-
hending it and can adjust the voting keys with ease and
rapidity. Up to its capacity elections would be conducted
with it at an economy in cost and certainty in correct results.

Markae Patent.

This machine is arranged in sections which are set one
upon the top of another. Each section is complete in itself
and can be coupled with others for the purpose of releasing
knobs which have been used in voting. The face of each
section exposes a line of voting knobs so arranged that each
can be used for voting for a single office or combined for vot-
ing for a single and for co-ordinate offices, so that any number
of candidates can be accommodated. The knobs, to each of
which a ridged pointer is attached, are placed in the center of
a slotted receptacle, and from each slot a space radiates in

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which the name of a candidate can be placed, with or without
a party designation. In the machine exhibited eight such
radiating spaces appear, but their number could be increased.
For independent voting there is an opening in the top space
over each knob and all these openings are in line. Separate
rolls of paper pass before such openings, but all are attached
to a common shaft and move forward once whenever a voter
elects to write the name of one or more persons whose names
are not regularly printed, so that cumulative voting cannot be
accomplished without detection.

In order to vote the voter turns a knob so as to bring the
pointer opposite the slot and space on which the name of the
candidate appears for whom he desires to vote and then pushes
the knob inward. A knob thus pushed cannot be withdrawn,
but at once actuates the register counters and completes the
act of voting. A mistake in placing the voting pointer into
a slot cannot, consequently, be recalled and corrected. The
vote for each office is a repetition of the above described
method. When the knob is pushed inward against the inde-
pendent space a slide opens and exposes the paper roll, which
at all other times is covered. After a voter Isaves the voting
booth a lever, which can be operated by turnstile or the elec-
tion officers, throws all the used knobs outward, dropping the
pointer into its normal position and closing all the slides
which have been opened for independent voting. At the
beginning of an election all the registers, which are exposed
upon the back of the machine, should be found at zero, and
upon opening the machine at the close of the election, such
registers will show the vote cast for each candidate.

For the purpose of releasing and returning the voting
knobs to their normal position a shaft extends the length of
each section, which could be reached by an opening made
and concealed in the outside casing. By means of a wire
reaching the shaft through such opening, a reciprocal action
could be set up which would permit of a voter voting for one
candidate an unlimited number of times. While such a fraud
might be known by the general result, it could not be located
even though the opening in the casing was found, as the shaft
operates all knobs alike. This defect could probably be over-


come by some device which would retain the releasing bar in
a fixed position while a voter was in the voting booth, but as
the machine is now designed it could be pumped in the man-
ner indicated.

In the case of presidential electors this machine affords
the voter the option of voting for a straight party group by
one movement, or of voting for such candidates separately,
and the interlocking device will not permit of both methods
being used by the same voter. This method involves the
adding together of the straight party vote and the votes cast
for candidates separately in order to obtain the total cast for
each. It enables, however, a greater number of voters to use
the machine in a given precinct and in consequence is eco-
nomical in the number of machines required for an election
and the number of election officers to be employed.

San Francisco, Cal.

Presented an incompleted model of a Voting Machine,
but as the device was only partially disclosed it is impossible
to give a satisfactory description of it.

San Francisco, Cal.

This device consists of a bank of numbered voting keys
placed above an Australian ballot. To vote, a voter pushes
inward a key corresponding to the number placed opposite the
name of a candidate on the ballot, thereby locking the
mechanism so that another vote for the same office cannot be
cast. For co-ordinate offices the machine can be adjusted for
any number of candidates. To vote independently, the voter
pushes a key for a blank space and thereby raises a lid upon
which he can write the name of a candidate whose name does
not appear upon the ballot. A double system of recording
the vote is provided by the use of a paper roll and registering
wheels. The push keys are connected with double arms, one
of which punches the paper roll, which serves as a tally sheet,


and the other actuates registering wheels. All movements
are positive.

The interlocking device consists of a series of wedges
passing between hanging rods which permit of a free passage
until the limit of candidates to be voted for single or co-ordi-
nate offices has been reached. The interlocking device of the
machine exhibited permits of twelve candidates to be elected
at large to be chosen out of fifty. A special device will
permit of only a portion of the offices to be filled to be voted
for in case such an arrangement is desired. This machine
provides for cumulative voting as allowed in some states.

Livermore, Cal.

In this machine a ballot arranged the same as the present
one would be if the names of all the candidates were printed
in one column, is placed opposite a row of voting keys
which extend the length of the machine. The ballot is folded
so as to expose to the voter the names of the candidates and
blank spaces for independent voting. The reverse side of
the folded ballot, which is reserved in columns of hundreds,
tens and units, for the result of the election to be printed
thereon, is placed over registering wheels which are in line
with the push keys. The names of the candidates and the
blank spaces on the ballot are thus placed immediately above
the registering wheels, which are actuated by the voting key
opposite such names and blank spaces.

By a system of gravity balls placed in double rows the
number of times a voter can push down the keys to vote for
single and co-ordinate offices is limited to his legal right and
can readily be adjusted to meet the conditions of succeeding
elections. While in the voting booth, a voter, by pulling up
a depressed key, can correct or change his vote as often as he
chooses, and is not confined to any fixed order of voting, but
can choose or change his candidates at will.

For independent voting a paper roll extends the length of
the machine and passes over a supporting table. By pushing
down a key opposite the blank for independent voting, a lid is

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raised over the paper roll, upon which a voter can write the
name of the person for whom he desires to vote. A lid once
raised its key cannot be returned to its normal condition until
the voter leaves the voting booth, nor will pushing down
other independent keys by the same voter advance the voting
roll. If a voter writes the same name more than once such
names will appear in line and detect his act the same as if the
present ballot was used. A voter can thus vote for such
regularly nominated candidates as he may choose, and vote
for anyone he may desire not nominated until his limit of
voting is exhausted.

Upon the voter leaving the voting booth, the independent
roll, if it has been used, is moved forward one voting space,
the independent lids close and the depressed keys are released
and resume their normal position, thus removing all trace of
the acts of the voter. At the same time the registering
wheels, which at all other times are securely locked, are
moved forward for such keys as have been left pushed down
by the voter and his vote thereby registered.

At the opening of the polls a regularly prepared ballot,
such as is to be used in the election, is inserted in the
machine, the lid closed and locked and an impress of the
registering wheel printed upon the ballot. This impress
should show that all the registering wheels are placed at zero.
The ballot for the election is then inserted and is protected
during the election by a transparent covering. At the close
of the election the lid of the machine is again closed, an
imprint taken upon the actual ballot used, showing the
changed position of the registering wheels which have
recorded the acts of the voters and consequently the result of
the election so far as the votes for regularly nominated candi-
dates are concerned.

By opening the lids over the independent or scattering
vote and turning the roll backward, such votes can be can-
vassed without removing the roll from the machine, and the
total of such scattering votes cannot exceed the number
indicated by the imprints on the ballot opposite each voting
space. A turn-stile, provided with a conspicuous moving
arm and a gong bell, unlocks and locks the Voting Machine
as each voter enters and leaves the voting booth, so that

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without the knowledge of all present it would be impossible
for a voter to vote more than once or for a vote to fail _pf
being registered.

Sections of this machine, which can be made of 50, 75
or 100 keys, can be coupled together so as to accommodate as
many parties and candidates as may be desired.

This device meets many of the requirements of a practical
Voting Machine, and complies with all the provisions of the
Election Laws of this State, save the option of voting for a
group of Presidential electors instead of voting for such can-
didates separately .


This machine is enclosed in a narrow upright box. In
order to vote, a voter passes to one side of the box, which is
placed in full view of all present, and raises a cover which is
hinged together, so that when the cover is raised it acts as a
screen. The machine is then operated by the voter raising a
screw-rod and inserting a resting-arm attached thereto within
a notch of a slide-bar which extends the length of the machine.
Upon the screw-rod (which is numbered upon the rod for each
half-turn) there is a movable nut (protected by a guide rod)
which moves upon the screw-rod as the latter is turned. The
names of the various candidates to be voted for appear in
groups the same as if the existing ballot was printed in one
column and these groups can be so changed as to meet the
requirements of succeeding elections. This lineal ballot is
placed upon the top of the machine so that the name of each
candidate and the spaces for independent voting appear oppo-
site the handle to a screw-rod. A system of rollers and
wedges at the bottom of the screw-rods limits the number of
screw-rods which can be raised by each voter and the times a
voter can vote for a single or co-ordinate office. The same
device permits the voter to correct or change his vote as often
and as long as he remains in the voting booth, and he is not
confined to any fixed order of voting but chooses his candi-
dates at will.


For independent voting a paper roll feeding from one to
a second roller extends the length of the machine and passes
over a fixed table. This table is covered by arms which can
be attached to each screw-rod, but for an election only those
arms are attached to the screw -rod which are reserved for in-
dependent voting. To vote independently, the voter raises
the screw-rod and inserts the resting-arm within the notch of
the slide-bar, thereby lifting the arm over the fixed table and
exposing a space upon the paper roll upon which he can write
the name of anyone not printed upon the ballot for whom he
desires to vote. In this operation the paper roll is moved but
once, no matter how many times the voter may write the
names of independent candidates, and as a consequence all
the independent votes of any one voter must appear in
line upon the paper roll. This cannot prevent cumulative
voting, but detects it in the same manner as the present ballot
does, and while it discloses the act of a voter it does not iden-
tify him. The voter can thus exercise the limit to which he
is entitled by raising the screw-rods and voting for candidates
regularly nominated and those of his own choice and is only
called upon to write the names of the latter. After once rais-
ing the screw-rod for an independent vote the rod cannot be
replaced by the voter in its original position, as otherwise he
could write upon the roll and afterwards vote for regularly
nominated candidates the full number of times permitted.'
After the voter has arranged the screw-rods in the notches in
the sliding-bar, he closes the cover to the box and thereby
moves a cam operating the sliding-bar, which moves all the
resting arms forward until they are released and fall back by
gravitation into their normal position, thus completing the
half revolution of the screw-rods for independent as well as
regular candidates, and forcing the nut to register the vote
given and removing all traces of the acts of the voter. The
cover to the box cannot be closed until all these operations
have taken place. Any attempt on the part of a voter to
open the cover a second time to repeat his vote would be ap-
parent to all present and such attempt should open the doors
of the penitentiary to him.

At the commencement of an election the machine can be
opened so that spectators can see that all the nuts are placed


at zero in the machine and at its close the result can be read
from the rods as shown by the position of the nuts. The in-
dependent vote can be canvassed without removing the paper
roll from the machine as it can be turned back space by space
and the names read off through an opening provided for the
purpose. During an election the only parts of the machine
which could be tampered with (which are the resting-arms
and slide-bar) are exposed to view by means of a glass cover
ing, and any possible injury to them could be seen by every
voter. The movement of the nut upon the screw-rod is abso-
lutely positive and the nut cannot be moved a half turn unless
it has been operated by the act of a voter the numbers
appearing upon the screw-rod itself, in the same manner as
upon the balance arm of a weighing scale, does not permit
any tampering with or manipulation, and as the movement of
the operating cam only permits of a forward motion when the
resting arms are in the notch of the slide-bar, a vote once
registered cannot beset back and cancelled. In these respects
the design is unimpeachable.

Machines in sections of 50, 75 or 100 keys can be coupled
together so as to accommodate any number of parties and candi-
dates. One hundred or more candidates can be grouped to-
gether for single or co-ordinate offices and the mechanism does
not limit the number of co-ordinate offices to be filled. Thus,
the voter could select one candidate out of a hundred for
Mayor and eighteen out of any hundred candidates for Super-
visor to be elected at large.

By the use of a special device a straight party group of
presidential electors can be voted for on one rod, so as to
afford a voter the option of voting for such group by one rod
or of voting for the same or other candidates separately, and
the interlocking device will prevent the use of both methods
by the same voter.

If this method of voting for a straight party group to fill
co-ordinate positions could be lawfully extended so as to per-
mit a voter to vote, say, for eighteen supervisors to be elected
at large, the interlocking device of this machine could be ad-
justed to meet the requirement. This would facilitate rapi-
dity in voting and a far greater number of voters could use
a machine than if each candidate had to be selected and voted
for separately.


This group method would involve the adding together of
the straight party vote to those cast separately.

A screw-rod is mechanically equivalent to a pile of con-
nected discs and the passage of a nut upon it accomplishes the
same purpose as placing one disc upon another. Hence, the
recording mechanism in this machine combines both the con-
crete and abstract features which distinguished the disc and
registering wheel machines.

This machine meets all the requirements of a practical
voting machine, and complies with all the provisions of the
Election Laws of this state.

It has been our purpose in examining machines to study
the principles rather than the execution of the devices, as
most of the machines presented have been imperfectly con-
structed. In a machine manufactured for practical use, many
existing miner faults could and would be corrected. The
" McTammany " and "Standard" machines illustrate how
well machines can be manufactured. Of the hand-made ma-
chines, the " National," the " Ellis " and the " Christensen''
are the only ones which have been made upon a scale to
admit of practical tests. In general principles they are some-
what alike, though the mechanical devices are entirely differ-
ent, and each possess advantages which have already been
mentioned. The " Ellis " is the most compact and the
' * Christensen ' ' the strongest and least complicated.

It was the intention of the commission to give public
exhibitions of the practical workings of Voting Machines
submitted to us for examination and testing, but we have to
regret that delays upon the part of inventors in completing
their machines has rendered it impossible for us to make such
tests in public.

Whatever machines may be adopted, it will be necessary
to enact laws guarding them against being marked, defaced
or injured and to prevent the use of devices to disclose the
acts of a voter who might be placed in the voting line
between two conspirators. To guard against such practices
the booths should be arranged so as to expose the voting keys
to public view before each voter proceeds to vote.


As previously stated, the " McTammany " and " Stand-
ard " are the only factory-made machines, all the others hav^
ing been made by hand and exhibit variation in workmanship
from crude models in wood to finished products in metal. As
a consequence it is difficult to make an estimate of the proba-
ble cost of one or more of such machines. The price for
factory-made machines would doubtless range from two
hundred and fifty to five hundred dollars.

An important factor in the economy of voting by ma-
chines is the number of voters who can use a machine during
an election, Machines which require each key to be sepa-
rately moved cannot accommodate as many voters as those
which place a party group into position for voting by one
movement. At the last election held in Rochester, N. Y . , on
November 8th, 1898, seventy-three "Standard" Voting Ma-
chines were used, sixty-two candidates were in nomination,
thirtern positions were voted for and an average of four hun-
dred and thirty-one voters used a machine in each precinct.
Complete returns were received at a central station thirty-
seven minutes after the close of the polls. Under the newly
adopted charter of San Francisco, thirty -two positions will
have to be voted for at each election, and as under the exist-
ing law each candidate must be voted for separately, the num-
ber of voters who can use a machine in a precinct will be less
than the average in the late election in Rochester.

By the use of machines the cost of conducting an elec-
tion would be reduced by the expense for ballots and the
lessened number of election officers employed. Doubtless it
would prove advisable to retain an inspector, a judge, two
register clerks and two poll list clerks. As their services
would be required for only a short time after the close of the
polls, a reduction in the amount now paid them could be
made thus : in San Francisco where twelve election officers
are employed in each precinct at a cost of ten dollars each,
the savings in expenses for officers, ballots, tally-sheets, etc.,
would soon cover the cost of machines.

The moral gain in the avoidance of mistakes and the cer-
tainty of the count would prove of inestimable value, and
would far outweigh all minor considerations.





An act to create a commission for the purpose of examin-
ing, testing and investigating Voting Machines, and reporting
to the Legislature at its thirty-third session the result of such
investigation, and making an appropriation for the expenses
of such commission.

(Approved March 27. 1897.)

The People of the State of California, represented in
Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows :

SECTION i. A special commission of three persons is
hereby created for the purpose of examining, investigating
and testing Voting Machines, and reporting the result of such
examination, investigation and test, together with the opinion
of such commission, and its recommendations, to the Legisla-
ture at its thirty- third session. Such commission shall con-
sist of three persons, who shall not be members of the same
political party, to be appointed by the Governor. The Gov-
ernor shall issue a commission to each of the three commis-

SEC. 2. Such commissioners shall receive no salary for
the performance of their official duties. Immediately after
such commissioners shall have been appointed, or elected, and
commissioned, they shall meet together, and organize, for the
performance of the duties for which they were appointed or
elected. They shall examine and investigate all Voting Ma-
chines offered for such examination, or investigation, and
shall use all reasonable efforts to secure a personal examina-
tion of the largest possible number of such Voting Machines.
They shall endeavor to ascertain the names and residences of
the patentees, owners, or proprietors, of all such Voting Ma-
chines, and by correspondence, or by advertisement, notify
them of the appointment of such a commission, its powers
and duties, and that they will examine such machine or ma-
chines, at such time, and at such place, as they shall therein
specify .

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SEC. 3. They shall be allowed to employ a clerk at a cost
not to exceed six hundred dollars, and may incur such other ex-
penses as shall be necessary, which, together with the expense
for such clerk, shall not aggregate more than one thousand

SEC. 4. Thirty days before the meeting of the Legisla-
ture at its thirty-third session, such commission shall forward
to each member of such Legislature entitled to sit at such
session, a copy of its report. Such report shall contain the
results of their investigation and examination; their opinion
upon each machine tested; its applicability to our present
elective system, and its possible defects. Such commission
shall also in such report make such estimate as may be
possible and they deem proper of the probable cost of one or
more of such machines, and the saving, if any, which such
purchase would effect over our present system of voting.

SEC. 5. The sum of one thousand dollars is hereby

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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 3 of 4)