Sarasota County uses a paper-based system of digital precinct scanners and high-speed central count optical scanners for voting and tabulation. We use the DS300 voter-activated scanners in the precincts and early voting locations to count ballots and tabulate votes, and the DS950 high-speed scanners in the elections office to tabulate vote-by-mail ballots. The precinct-based DS300 voting system is designed to provide accuracy and integrity throughout the voting and vote tabulation process. The DS950 is capable of processing 300 double-sided 14-inch ballots per minute. The voting equipment vendor is Elections Systems & Software.
Marking Your Ballot
Optical scan voting is a user-friendly system that makes voting both fast and simple. Once your ballot is issued, you will be directed to a privacy booth to mark it in private. Using the pen provided at your polling place or early voting location, completely fill in the oval next to your choice on the ballot, as illustrated here.
If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask a poll worker for assistance before scanning the ballot. Important: Once the ballot is scanned, it is considered cast and cannot be retrieved.
Casting Your Ballot
After marking your ballot, take it to the tabulator and insert it into the optical scan reader on the top front of the tabulator. The scanning device reads the votes cast and deposits the voted ballot into a locked and sealed ballot box.
The DS300 will notify the voter if a contest has been overvoted or if a ballot is totally blank, giving the voter an opportunity to correct the ballot before it is scanned. An overvote occurs when a voter selects more than the allowed number of choices in a particular contest.
After the polls close, votes are tallied at each precinct and transmitted electronically directly to the data acquisition and reporting center in the elections office, where cumulative totals for vote-by-mail, early voting and election day are reported and posted on our website.
The DS300 does not store any ballot data. All ballot data, election totals and ballot images are stored on an external USB flash drive, which is stored in a secure compartment.
ExpressVote Ballot Marking Device
The ADA-friendly ExpressVote system combines ballot-marking technology with an integrated thermal printer to produce a paper record that is tabulated using the DS300 ballot scanner. The ExpressVote system allows Sarasota County voters with physical or visual disabilities to mark a readable, verifiable ballot card privately and independently and review their selections to verify that their vote was recorded accurately before submitting the card for tabulation.
Voters with visual impairments have access to headphones that provide audio instructions and can use an audio-tactile keypad with braille legends to mark selections. Voters with physical disabilities can use a Sip-and-Puff device to guide them through the vote selection process with screen prompts, symbols and audio.