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These are the ballot machines and systems available in Florida

Early voting is underway.
Early voting is underway. (2020 Getty Images)

Whether you’ve voted many times over the years or this will be your first time casting a ballot, you might be wondering about the equipment involved.

Will you know how to use it? Will you know what to expect? Will the machine properly count your vote?

Rest assured, these systems are made to be user-friendly and fairly easy to figure out. If you find yourself confused come Election Day (or at early voting), you can always ask a poll worker your questions.

In Florida, the state uses two methods to vote: An optical scan system or a Direct Record Electronic system, also known as a DRE, according to vote411.org.

Here is how the website explains each system:

Optical scan: With optical scan, you will receive a ballot, which you’ll take to a private table or booth. The paper ballot will have the names of the candidates and the various measures and initiatives printed on it.

With a writing utensil, you’ll fill in little boxes or circles -- or the space between two arrows, indicating your voting choices. When you’re finished, you’ll approach the ballot box, where poll workers will show you how to put your ballot inside. In some places, you might feed the completed cards or papers into a computer device that checks your card or paper right there at the polling place, to make sure you have voted the way you intended.

Direct Recording Electronic (DRE): When you use a DRE, all the information about who and what you are voting for is on an electronic screen, like a TV or computer screen.

There are many variations of DREs, according to vote411.org. “Usually, after you have signed in, the poll workers will give you a card that you slide into a device to start your voting session,” the site said.

“Some of these devices will show all of the candidates and ballot choices on one big screen. Often, with these big-screen devices, you push a button next to the name of the candidate you want to vote for (or “yes” or “no” on a ballot measure). On other DREs, the screen is set up to show pages. On each screen or page, there will probably be one thing to vote on. For example, on one screen or page, you might vote for president. Then you might move to the next page to vote for senator. Other devices have a key pad. Some have a keyboard, so you can write in the name of someone you want to vote for. You let the system know you are finished voting by pushing a button, touching the screen or entering something on a keypad.”


To learn about specific brands of machine, broken down by county, click or tap here.


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