Inventory of the State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records

Processed by May Lee Tom; supplementary encoding and revision supplied by Xiuzhi Zhou.
California State Archives
1020 "O" Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 653-2246
Fax: (916) 653-7363
© 2000
California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records

Inventory: F3898

California State Archives

Office of the Secretary of State

Sacramento, California

Contact Information:

  • California State Archives
  • 1020 "O" Street
  • Sacramento, California 95814
  • Phone: (916) 653-2246
  • Fax: (916) 653-7363
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
May Lee Tom
Date Completed:
June 1987
© 2000 California Secretary of State. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records
Inventory: F3898
Creator: State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices
Repository: California State Archives
Sacramento, California
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Publication Rights

For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices Records, F3898, California State Archives.

Agency History

1903 State Commission on Voting Machines created by an act of legislature. Commission members consisted of the Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General. [Stats 1903, c. 266]
1921 Act of 1903 creating State Commission on Voting Machines repealed. [Stats 1921, c. 525]
1923 State Commission on Voting Machines once again constituted. [Stats 1923, c. 96]
1959 Name changed to State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices. [Stats 1959, c. 1585]
1982 State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices abolished. [Stats 1982, c. 1190]
  Duties of Commission taken over by the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel under the direction of the Secretary of State's Office.


The State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices was formed to examine any machine proposed for use in California elections. No machine could be used prior to receiving approval from the Commission whose membership consisted of the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General. Voting machines, voting devices and vote tabulating devices were judged for their accuracy, efficiency, safeguards against fraud or manipulation, and capability to preserve secrecy of ballot.
The application process began with a formal request to the Commission. The Commission scheduled the examination and determined the costs which were the responsibility of the applicant. Approval was given or withheld after reviewing the findings of the consultant (hired by the Commission) and information gathered at public hearings. The Commission filed a report and a copy was then sent to the Board of Supervisors in each county.
Once a machine was approved, it could not be changed or modified until the Commission had been notified and had determined that the change did not impair its accuracy. Periodically, the Commission reviewed machines to see if they were inadequate, defective, obsolete or unacceptable.


The files of the State Commission on Voting Machines and Vote Tabulating Devices span 1947 to 1986, with the bulk of the material falling within 1960 and 1980. Records of the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel (1983-1986) which was formed after the Commission was abolished, are also included. The files are subdivided into Administrative Files, Engineering Consultants Files, and Approved Systems and Equipment Files.
The records trace the process in which voting equipment is approved for use in the State of California. They document the emergence of electronic vote tallying as opposed to the manual or mechanical systems. The records follow the development of several machine models through changes of ownership and modifications. For example, the Votomatic Vote Recorder was originally produced by Harris Votomatic, Inc. Later models were manufactured by IBM and Computer Election Systems (CES).
The appendix (compiled by Edward G. Arnold, Jr.) chronologically lists the systems and equipment that were approved for use in California elections. A Copy is available at the California State Archives.

Arrangement and Description

Folder F3898:1-8.

1. Administrative Files. 1955-1984.

Physical Description: 8 f.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged chronologically.
Records cover various topics such as procedures to approve voting machines, letters from county clerk-recorders certifying accuracy of voting machines within their precincts, legislation requiring mandatory use of voting machines after delayed returns of 1960 Primary and General Elections, proposal for voting by mail (1964), Secretary of State Frank Jordan's prototype vote-counting machine (1964-1965), observances of election procedures on location (1970) and SB 512 (1981) to remove the Governor and Attorney General from the Commission and transfer Commission records to the Secretary of State.
Folder F3898:9-12.

2. Engineering Consultants Files. 1960-1976.

Physical Description: 4 f.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically.
Files contain correspondence between the Commission and the consulting firms regarding arrangements to test the equipment, proposed evaluation test plans, test specifications, corporate information and reimbursement of fees. Firms represented are Electrada Corp., Sigma Corp., Walter V. Sterling, Inc., and Tri-Tek Industries.
Folder F3898:13-114

3. Approved Systems and Equipment Files. 1947-1986.

Physical Description: 102 f.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by corporation name and chronologically thereunder.
Types of materials include (a) Descriptions and Specifications provided by the manufacturer. May include photographs and drawings; (b) Procedures for use of the equipment; (c) Correspondence regarding formal applications by individual or company to have their equipment tested, arrangements to cover expenses, problem areas in equipment which need to be corrected, modifications sought after equipment has been approved; attorney general's opinion of system in relation to Elections Code; letters of support or opposition from county boards of supervisors; statement of work and cost estimates; (d) Test Results as reported by engineering firms; (e) Report of State Commission of findings; and (f) Certification that equipment and procedures are approved for use.
Folder F3898:13

Airmac Technology Systems, Inc. 1981-1983

Folder F3898:14-18

Automatic Voting Machine Corp. (AVM) 1961-1986

Folder F3898:19

Burroughs Corp. 1969, 1975

Folder F3898:20

Carlisle Graphics 1972, 1974

Folder F3898:21-26

Coleman Vote Tally System 1962-1973

Folder F3898:27-37

Computer Election Systems (CES) 1969-1981

Folder F3898:38

Compuvote Corp. 1975-1978


Compuvote Inc. SEE Datamedia International Inc.

Folder F3898:39

Consolidated Computer International Inc. 1979

Folder F3898:40

Control Data Corp. 1971-1972

Folder F3898:41

Coyle Voting Machine 1959-1963

Folder F3898:42-48

Cubic Industrial Corp. 1964-1979

Folder F3898:49-50

Cybernetics General Co. 1964-1965

Folder F3898:51

DFM Vote Tally System 1982-1983

Folder F3898:52

Data Control Engineering 1979

Folder F3898:53

Data Entry Systems 1975-1976

Folder F3898:54-56

Data Mark Systems, Inc. 1978-1979

Folder F3898:57

Datamedia International Inc. 1967, 1969, 1971-1972, 1975

Folder F3898:58

Davis Voting System. 1964, 1967-1969

Folder F3898:59-70

Diamond International Corp. 1968-1981

Folder F3898:71

Digital Equipment Corp. 1968-1969

Folder F3898:72

Election Supplies Limited 1981

Folder F3898:73

Fidlar & Chambers 1974-1975

Folder F3898:74-77

Gyrex Corp. 1972-1979

Folder F3898:78-79

Harris Votomatic, Inc. 1963-1965

Folder F3898:113

Hewlett-Packard 1976-1977

Folder F3898:80

Honeywell Information Systems, Inc. 1975, 1979, 1983-1984

Folder F3898:81-85, 114

International Business Machines Corp. 1963-1984

Folder F3898:86

International Elections Systems 1972-1973

Folder F3898:87

Keith & Feraud, Inc. 1954-1955, 1958

Folder F3898:88

Los Angeles, City of 1970-1971

Folder F3898:89

Los Angeles, County of 1971-1972

Folder F3898:90

Major Data Concepts, Inc. 1979

Folder F3898:91

Martel Systems, Inc. 1980

Scope and Content Note

SEE ALSO Major Data Concepts, Inc. and Airmac Technology Systems, Inc.
Folder F3898:92

Mathematical Systems Corp. 1964-1968

Scope and Content Note

(sold rights, title & interest to Diamond International Corp.)
Folder F3898:93

National Cash Register Co. 1971-1977


Norden SEE United Aircraft Corp.

Folder F3898:94

RCA 1969, 1971


Remington Rand SEE Sperry Rand Corp.


Seiscor SEE Seismograph Service Corp.

Folder F3898:95-97

Seismograph Service Corp. 1959-1970

Folder F3898:98-100

Shoup Voting Machine Corp. 1947, 1961-1966, 1971-1972

Scope and Content Note

(SEE ALSO Election Equipment Corp. and International Elections Systems Corp.)
Folder F3898:101-102

Sperry Rand Corp. 1950, 1960, 1975, 1980, 1984

Folder F3898:103-105

United Aircraft Corp. 1958-1961

Folder F3898:106-108

Voting Instruments and Products Corp. 1970-1974

Folder F3898:109-110

Votronics, Inc. 1961-1964

Folder F3898:111-112

Westinghouse Data Score Systems 1980-1981

Folder F3898:115.

4. Photographs. Various dates.

Physical Description: 1 f.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged numerically.
Photographs were removed from F3898:7, 28, 41, 42, 52, 57, 58, 81, 87, 95, 97, and 106 for conservation purposes. Xeroxed copies of the prints have been placed in the files.