Last updated on: 1/16/2013 | Author:

How to Vote on an Electronic Voting Machine

The majority of electronic voting machines in use are manufactured by four companies: Premier Election Solutions (formerly known as Diebold Election Systems), Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems. While all electronic voting machines directly record and tabulate votes electronically, the way votes are cast differs between machines and models.

Most DRE (direct recording electronic) voting machines are touch screen (the machine records the voter’s selections when the voter presses “buttons” on the machine’s screen) or Selection Wheel (the machine utilizes a wheel similar to an iPod to allow voters to make selections). Some machines, including touch screen and Selection Wheel, require voters to insert an access card to initiate the voting process, while others require an electronic ballot or access code.

Below is a step-by-step guide to using a popular model of electronic voting machine from each of the top four manufacturers as well as links to instruction manuals for each machine. Instructions for the use of optional features such as a voter verified paper audit trail have been included when applicable, although particular features may not be used in every polling location.


  1. Premier/Diebold AccuVote TS
  2. Election Systems and Software (ES&S) iVotronic
  3. Heart InterCivic eSlate
  4. Sequoia AVC Edge


I. Premier/Diebold AccuVote TS

The Accuvote TS is a touchscreen DRE (direct recording electronic) voting machine with VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) capability. In the 2012 elections, the Accuvote TS was used statewide in four states (AL, GA, MD, and UT) and in some jurisdictions in 18 states (AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, IN, KS, KY, MS, MO, OH, PA, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, and WY).

Diebold AccuVote TS Operators Manual (1.1 MB)

1. Insert Card
Insert the voter access card into the slot to the right of the screen. The card should be face up with the arrow pointing left and should be pushed firmly into the slot until it clicks.

2. Read Instructions Screen
Before you begin the voting process, you can magnify or change the contrast of the ballot to help increase readability. To begin voting, touch the “Next” button on the screen. You will use the “Next” button to see each ballot page until you have reached the end of the ballot.

3a. Select Candidates or Issues OR Select Write-In if Desired
Touch the box on the screen next to your choice. An “X” will appear, designating your selection. To change or cancel your selection, touch the box again and make another selection. If there are write-in candidates for whom you wish to vote, select “Write-In” and a keyboard will appear on the screen.

3b. Select Write-In Candidate
Separately type the name of each person you want to write-in, then select “Record Write-In.” The normal voting screen will return and the name you entered will appear as the choice for that particular race. touch “Back” to review previous pages.

4. Review Your Ballot
On the Summary Page review your choices. Items in red are races that were left fully blank or not fully voted. If you want to vote for a race that was left blank or not fully voted, or change your vote for any race, just touch that race on the screen and you will be taken back to the proper page to make or change your selection.

5. Print Ballot for Verification
If the AccuVote is fitted with a voter-verified paper audit trail, touch “Print Ballot” and you will see an enclosed printed copy of your choices to the right of the machine. After reviewing the ballot printout, you can either cast or reject your ballot.

6. Cast the Ballot
Touch “Cast Ballot” when you are ready to record your vote. Once your ballot has been cast, the printer will scroll to hide your selections.

7. Finish: Remove Card
You have completed the electronic touch screen voting process. Remove your voter access card and return it to a poll worker.

Sources: California Secretary of State Office and Diebold Election Systems

II. Election Systems and Software (ES&S) iVotronic

The ES&S iVotronic is a DRE machine with a touch screen interface and VVPAT capability. In the 2012 elections, the iVotronic was used statewide in SC and in some districts in 17 states and DC (AR, CO, FL, IN, KS, KY, MO, MS, NC, NJ, OH, PA, TN, TX, VA, WV, and WI).

1. Activate Ballot
You or a pollworker will activate your electronic ballot by inserting it into the appropriate slot. Next, touch language of choice with your finger.

2. Select Candidate
To select your candidate, touch the box next to the name. To de-select, touch the box again. the iVotronic will not allow you to vote for more people than may be elected to any one office.

3. Review Ballot
After completing last ballot page, touch “review” and carefully review the selection review screen. To change or make a new choice, touch the box next to candidate or office name, and then touch box next to new selection.

When finished, press the flashing red “vote” button to cast your ballot. The “Thank You For Voting” screen means you have properly cast your ballot.

Source: Election Systems and Software

III. Hart InterCivic eSlate

The eSlate voting machine is a DRE machine with a select wheel, push button interface, and VVPAT capability. In the 2012 elections, the Hart eSlate was used statewide in Hawaii and in some jurisdictions in 11 states (CA, CO, IL, IN, KY, OH, PA, TN, TX, and WA).

1. How the eSlate Works
The eSlate is not a touch screen voting device. Voters navigate through the ballot with the SELECT wheel and make their choices by pressing the ENTER button.

2. Getting Started
Using the SELECT wheel, the voter selects a language. Next, the voter enters the randomly generated four-digit access code they receive at check-in at the polling place. The code tells the system which ballot to produce for the voter’s precinct. The access code does not identify the voter in any way and can not be linked to the voter.

3. Making Ballot Choices
The ballot then appears on the color screen and the voter uses the SELECT wheel to move a blue highlight bar through the ballot. Once the voter moves the highlight bar onto their desired choice, they simply press the large button marked ENTER and the selection is marked. The box beside that choice is marked in red and the voter’s selection becomes bold while all of the other choices fade into the background so the voter has a strong visual signal of their vote.

4. Reviewing the Ballot Choices
After the voter has voted in the last contest on the ballot, a Ballot Summary screen will appear listing all the choices made and lets the voter know if they have missed voting in any race. If the voter makes a mistake or changes their mind they can make corrections from the Ballot Summary screen.

5. Final Cast Ballot
After reviewing and confirming the Ballot Summary screen, the voter can press the CAST BALLOT to finish voting. The screen informs the voter that they cannot go back after CAST BALLOT has been pressed. Voters will know they have finished voting when they see the waving American flag or hear “Your vote has been recorded” on the audio headset.

Sources: San Mateo County Elections Office and Hart InterCivic

IV. Sequoia AVC Edge

The Sequoia AVC Edge is a DRE touch screen machine with multilingual and VVPAT capability. In the 2012 election, the AVC Edge was used statewide in Nevada and in some jurisdictions in 11 states (AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, MS, NJ, PA, VA, WA, and WI).

Sequoia AVC Edge Operators Manual (171 KB)

1. Activate Your Ballot
A poll worker will give you a single-use “Voter Card.” Insert the card into the yellow slot on the Sequoia voting machine to activate your ballot. The card will remain in the machine until you have completed voting.

2. Vote
When the list of choices appears on the screen, simply touch the box containing your preference. To change your selection, touch the box again. Touch the “Next” or “Back” arrows at the bottom of the screen to turn pages in your ballot.

3. Verify and Print
After marking your ballot, a review screen allows you to see all of your selections. To make a change, touch the box you would like to revise and you will be returned to the corresponding page of the ballot. If the machine is fitted with a voter-verified paper audit trail, you will be asked to print and review a paper record of your ballot. The paper record will appear in the window on the left of the screen.

4. Cast Ballot
After verifying the paper record, you may either touch the “Make Changes” or “Ballot” button on the screen. If you choose to make changes, a new paper record incorporating your revisions will be printed. When you select “Cast Ballot,” the printer will indicate the paper record was accepted by the voter. The paper and electronic record will remain securely stored inside the machine.

Sources: California Secretary of State Office and Sequoia Voting Systems