Comprehensive Summary of California’s Escrow Regulations for Ballot Tally Software Program Source Codes

The article delves into the regulatory framework established by the California Code of Regulations concerning the escrow of ballot tally software program source codes. This process involves collaboration between the state, vendors, and escrow companies and is governed by eight distinct articles under Title 2, Division 7, Chapter 6 of the California Code of Regulations. 

Article 1: General Purpose and Effective Date

Article 1 delineates the application of regulations, reasons for placing software into escrow, conditions for use after the effective date, and the necessity for approval of the escrow facility. The regulations aim to safeguard the integrity of elections by ensuring the security and accuracy of ballot tally software programs. It mandates that source codes must be deposited in an approved escrow facility to remain valid.

Article 2: Definitions

This section provides specific definitions for terms utilized within the regulations, ensuring clarity and consistency in their interpretation and application.

Article 3: The Secretary of State

Article 3 outlines the role of the Secretary of State in the escrow process. It involves considering applications from escrow companies, certifying escrow companies, approving escrow facilities, conducting inspections, and taking action in cases of non-compliance.

Article 4: The Vendor

Article 4 elucidates the responsibilities of vendors in relation to the selected escrow company. It emphasizes the separation of vendor interests from the escrow company, requirements for submission of source codes, updates to submissions, and depositing software modifications into escrow.

Article 5: The Escrow Company

Article 5 focuses on the requirements for escrow companies, including the separation of interests, certification and approval prerequisites, notification procedures, and the term of certification. Escrow companies must be authorized by the Secretary of State and maintain detailed records of escrow agreements and source code submissions.

Article 6: The Escrow Facility

Article 6 details the specifications for escrow facilities where source codes are stored. It mandates secure environments with controlled humidity, temperature, and air filtration, protection from damaging factors, backup capabilities, physical security measures, and separate storage for each source code.

Article 7: Access to and Review of Materials in Escrow

Article 7 addresses the conditions under which the state can access materials stored in escrow. This includes court orders in investigations or prosecutions related to vote counting equipment or procedures and findings by the Secretary of State regarding non-compliance with regulations.

Article 8: The Escrow Agreement

Article 8 discusses the agreement between the Secretary of State and the escrow company, covering vendor agreements for escrow deposits, minimum terms required, and disclaimers regarding state liability. 


The comprehensive regulations outlined in these articles establish a structured framework for the escrow of ballot tally software program source codes in California, aimed at ensuring the integrity, security, and accessibility of crucial election materials. These regulations play a vital role in upholding the transparency and fairness of electoral processes in the state.

Read the regulations here:

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