League of Women Voters


The voting systems used in Missouri are optical scan and punch card.

Optical Scan: With this system, you will receive a card or sheet of paper, which you take over to a private table or booth. The card has the names of the various candidates and ballot measures printed on it. With a pen or pencil you fill in a little box or circle or the space between two arrows. When you are finished filling out all the cards, you may bring the cards over to a ballot box, where poll workers will show you how to put the cards in the box. Or in some places, you may 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 want to and counts the votes.

Punchcards: With a punchcard system, when you sign in at the polling place, the poll workers will give you one or more cards. These cards are usually about 8 inches by 3 inches, with small rectangles that can be punched out. You take your cards to a small private table. You'll see a booklet mounted on a frame. The frame will have a place for you to slide your first card in. Make sure that it's in all the way and lined up correctly. If you're not sure, ask one of the poll workers to make sure you've got it right. The table also has a little device (often a metal stylus or stick) that you use to punch holes next to the name of the person or ballot measure you want to vote for. Give it a firm punch, so it pushes out that little cardboard rectangle or chad. You may have to look at the booklet carefully so that you punch the right hole lined up with the person you want to vote for. Often there is a little arrow that helps you find the right hole. Some punchcards have the names of the candidates written right on the cards. You may need to vote on more than one card. Look it over carefully, so you put the right card in the right slot. Some punch card systems use both sides of the card, so look on the back of each card too. Check to see that all the holes are punched all the way through and there are no little pieces of cardboard (chad) hanging from your card. When you are done, pick up all your cards. There may be an envelope to put your cards in. Take your cards over to the ballot box and put the cards into the box.

You can learn more about voting systems by checking out the Elections Assistance Commission's (EAC) resource.


Question Topic:

Election Day Problems?

Call one of these hotlines:
1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
1-844-YALLA-US (Arabic)


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