For months, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has rallied his supporters with accusations of a "rigged" election. Because the United States has a decentralized voting system, it would be nearly impossible for the election to be "rigged." However, these allegations have stirred some curiosity among the American public concerning our voting system, and it's not a bad thing to ask questions about the voting process in your state. One major question that's asked time and time again is: are presidential ballots paper or electronic? It's a simple question with an equally simple (though admittedly unsatisfying) answer: presidential ballots can be either paper or electronic, and it varies by state since the United States' voting system is decentralized.
Each state has a different process for regulating elections, and that includes the type of ballot used. Generally speaking, however, there are three types of ballots used: a paper ballot, a mail-in ballot, and a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) system ballot. For more information on these three types of ballots and the states in which they'll be used, see the breakdown below:
1. Paper Ballot:
Eighteen states, including New York, will exclusively use paper ballots which will then be tallied using electronic equipment on election day.
2. Paper Ballot & DRE With Paper Trail
Fourteen states, including California, with use both paper ballots and DRE systems on election day. DRE systems use computers that automatically store a voters' record into the computers' memory. If the DRE has a paper trail, the records can be tabulated in case of audit or recount.
3. Paper Ballot & DRE Without Paper Trail
Seven states, including Texas and Florida, will use a combination of paper ballots and DRE systems without a paper trail.
4. Paper Ballot & DRE with and without paper trail
Three states — Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kansas — will use a combination of paper ballot, DRE systems without a paper trail, and DRE systems with a paper trail.
Three states — Colorado, Washington, and Oregon — conduct all their elections via mail-in ballot. A ballot is mailed to every registered voter prior to Election Day, and there is no in-person voting.
6. DRE With Paper Trail
Just one state — Nevada — will rely exclusively on DRE systems with a paper trail.
For more information about the type of ballot used in your state (and the candidates and measures on the ballot), visit Ballotpedia.