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New Voting System Coming to Santa Clara County, Replacing Model in Use Since 2003

The Santa Clara County electorate will be using an all-new voting system when they cast their ballots in the 2020 elections, the first such update to the County’s voting technology since 2003. The upgrade to the Dominion Voting Systems model was officially approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors this week and marks the end of years of consultations and discussion regarding the best path forward to replace the current outdated system.

“We are looking forward to this change,” said Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey. “We think voters will like the new system, and we appreciate the increase in performance and processing speed the new voting system will bring, as well as its stringent vote-security measures.”

It is a complete system replacement, including high-speed central scanners, various workstations and ballot image review stations for the staff at the main Registrar of Voters’ office. It also includes the in-person voting equipment such as ballot scanners, tabulators and ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices for the Vote Centers that will replace polling places in the new Voter’s Choice Act model being adopted for 2020.


A major improvement for Election Night results will come from the decentralized count — with the current system all ballots must be returned to the Registrar’s main office for tabulation. The new system allows for remote tabulation at each Vote Center, which will expedite Election Night results considerably.

Each Vote Center will have a minimum of three ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices that include a touchscreen tablet and individual printer. These devices will provide a simple and intuitive interface for voters. After marking a ballot on the touchscreen, voters will print the ballot in their voting booth. The voters will then deposit their paper ballot into the ballot tabulator. The ballot tabulator will warn the voter about potential errors and allow the voter an opportunity to correct the error.

The system creates an audit trail for each ballot cast documenting how each mark on each ballot was interpreted and tallied so that they can be reviewed at any time during the post-election canvass process. This provides insight into how the system interprets ballots when counting votes, something that was previously not available.

To ensure voting security, the California Secretary of State’s Office applies one of the most exhaustive voting system testing and certification programs in the country. Prior to being certified for use, all voting systems undergo end-to-end testing, including functional testing, source code review, red team security testing with experts trying to “break into” the voting system, accessibility testing and volume testing. The new voting system is not connected to the Internet at any time and does not receive or transmit election data electronically through any type of external communication network.

The system is being leased for $15 million over eight years. Leasing the system provides flexibility in case of a need to upgrade or replace the system. Approximately $5.6 million of the cost may be offset by a state reimbursement for voting system modernization.

For more information on these changes, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at 1-408-299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at 1-866-430-VOTE (8683), or visit


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