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Frequently Asked Questions: Optical Scanner Voting System

Why is Pinellas County using paper ballots?
Effective July 1, 2008, the Florida Legislature mandated that all Florida voters vote a paper optical scan ballot whether voting by mail, at an early voting site or at the polls on Election Day. 

What voting equipment does Pinellas County use?
Voters are using the Election Systems & Software DS 200 (Digital Scanner). An ADA accessible ballot-marking device, ExpressVote, is also available.

Have other counties and/or states been using this system?
More than 30 counties in Florida have been using voting systems manufactured by Election Systems & Software for years. Although Pinellas was one of the first counties in the country to use the latest digital scanner model, the DS 200, other Florida counties began using the system in the fall of 2008. 

What does the optical scan paper ballot look like?
The paper ballot looks exactly like the absentee ballots we used for years, with the exception that voters now fill in ovals instead of completing arrows. 

What happens if I make a mistake on my ballot?
Return the ballot to a poll worker and ask for another one. You can have up to three ballots. You will be asked to place the ballot in a spoiled ballot envelope, seal the envelope and hand it to a poll worker.

What happens if I make a mistake on the third ballot I am allowed?
State law does not allow you to be given a fourth ballot. Your first two spoiled ballots will be in sealed envelopes, so you will need to use your third ballot.  

Does it matter how I insert my ballot into the optical scanner?
No. You can place either end of the ballot into the scanner, with either side up.  

How do I know that my votes are being counted?
The scanner screen message indicates that your votes are being recorded and your ballot was accepted. 

What happens if I do not vote in any of the races?
The ballot scanner will alert you if it does not detect any votes on the ballot. You will have the option to accept the ballot as is or return to you for corrections. 

What happens if I do not vote in every race?
The optical scanner will accept your ballot and count all races voted. 

What happens if I vote for too many candidates?
The optical scanner will alert you if you select too many candidates in a race, or overvote. You will have the option to accept the ballot or return to you for corrections. 

How will I correct a ballot with one or more overvotes?
An overvoted ballot cannot be corrected. A poll worker will give you a “spoiled ballot” envelope for your first ballot and then give you a new ballot.  

Can I write in a candidate?
Only races in which there is a qualified write-in candidate will provide a space to write in a candidate’s name and fill in the oval, and only votes for qualified write-in candidates will be counted. 

Can I change my ballot once it has been scanned and accepted by the ballot scanner?
No. Once a ballot has been accepted, it cannot be retrieved.  

Is there a paper trail?
Yes. Your paper ballot secured in the ballot box is the official record of your votes and is available for recounts or audits.  

How long are paper ballots kept?
Any ballots with federal races or issues must be retained for 22 months. All other ballots must be kept for 12 months. 

In the event of scanner failure, what happens to my ballot?
The voter has the option to wait until a replacement scanner arrives or place the ballot in the auxiliary portion of the ballot box. Ballots will be processed through the scanner after the polls close.   

In the event of a power outage, what happens?
The internal backup battery allows the scanner to continue operating.

If I receive a paper ballot in the mail and decide to vote at the polling place can I do this?
Yes. The simplest way to do this is to bring your mail ballot kit to your polling place and ask a poll worker to cancel the ballot so you can vote at the polling place.

County Seal in Footer

Julie Marcus ● Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections

Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. | Email: [email protected] | Mail Ballots: [email protected] | Public Records Request: Submit Form

P:(727) 464-VOTE (8683) ● F:(727) 464-6239

Election Service Center

13001 Starkey Rd.
Largo, FL 33773
(Starkey Lakes Corporate Center)

Pinellas County Courthouse

315 Court Street, Room 117
Clearwater, FL 33756

County Building

501 First Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(Fifth Street North Entrance)

F.S. 668.6076 Under Florida law, email addresses are public records. If you do not want your email address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing. To submit a public records request, use this form.