MONTEREY COUNTY ELECTIONS DEPARTMENT
REPORT ON REFERRAL # 2010.15
On June 29, 2010, the Elections Department was assigned Referral No. 2010.15 issued by Supervisor
Calcagno that stated the following:
“Voters in Monterey County have a keen interest in receiving updates on a timely basis on
election nights; however, often meaningful results are not released until after midnight. The
purpose of the referral is to require the Elections Department to provide updates at: 8:15 pm,
9:15 pm, 10:15 pm, 11:15 pm, and 12:15 am; and thereafter on a daily basis until the election is
certified. By keeping voters better informed on election night, we hope to stimulate more public
participation in voting and provide greater transparency in the election process.”
Beginning in 1998, the County began to migrate towards replacing paper ballot voting with touch-
screen voting at all polling places. From 2005 to June 2007, Monterey County’s voting system was
comprised of 100% use of electronic touch-screen voting devices, along with paper ballot voting for
mail ballot voters, and, reporting results on Election Night was simpler, all precincts reported in and
results were final prior to midnight. Vote by mail paper ballots received, validated and tabulated in the
days prior to the election were, as today, the first result released just after the close of polls. The
process to issue subsequent reports was simpler as only electronic results were extracted from data
cartridges and merged together with the paper ballot mail results and reported quickly. The only
ballots remaining to report during the 28-day canvass were vote by mail and provisional ballots not
included in the election night results.
Today, Monterey County’s voting system has changed from 100% electronic touch-screen voting at all
polling places, using paper ballot voting for those who vote by mail, to 100% paper ballot voting for all
voters, using one electronic touch-screen voting device in each precinct as required under federal and
state law. In August of 2007, the California Secretary of State conducted a Top-to-Bottom review of
certified voting systems in California, seriously restricting the use of electronic touch-screen voting
machines, allowing only one in each precinct to be used for voting purposes. This augmented Election
Night operations for all counties who were using 100% electronic touch-screen voting systems,
moving from processing hundreds of data cards to processing hundreds of thousands of paper ballots,
added hours to the time it took to process precinct votes and issue election results to the public.
The above referral states that, “often meaningful results are not released until after midnight.” In
Monterey County, nearly 60% of the voters are signed up to vote by mail. The Department commonly
releases the first result to the public on Election Night shortly after 8:15 p.m. when the Department
learns there are no more voters waiting to cast their vote and all polls have therefore closed. The
Department’s research back to 20071 reflects that the first report containing all vote by mail and mail
ballot precinct votes received and processed up to the Monday before Election Day contains an
average of 85%2 of the Election Night results, and an average of 65%3 of the final results released at
the end of the official 28-day canvass. It is important to note that the research also reflected only one
local contest at the June 2008 Statewide Primary Election where the initial leader had changed between
the first and last reports released on Election Night, and three local contests4 where the initial leader on
Election Night was not the certified winner at the conclusion of the final 28-day canvass. The
Department believes this is very meaningful in a high vote by mail area, where the first vote by mail
report often sets the tone for the cumulative result reports generated throughout Election Night and the
official 28-day canvass. More often than not, the winning candidate was also the leading candidate in
the first report issued on Election Night; ballot measure outcomes were unaltered from the first
Election Night report to the certified result.
The Department acknowledges that a consistent reporting schedule will assist in keeping the public
more informed of when election results may be released. While the Department has not issued an
Election Night reporting schedule in the past, it has consistently released a public observation schedule
for the 28-day canvass, which includes the date, time and location of where ballots will be tabulated
and results reported.5 The Department also posts updated reports on the main web page, under “Latest
Election Results”, and since 2009 has used Twitter to inform the Departments 170 followers, most of
whom are media outlets who use the Department’s Twitter messages to issue a news story. With
implementation of posting election results on the internet, the number of public observers at the
Department and the number of telephone calls received on Election Night seeking election results has
dramatically declined. Department staff who operate the public phone bank report that, generally, the
few calls received on Election Night seeking results are from a handful of consistent Election
Department observers or campaign leaders; not the general voting public or media.
Reporting Results on Election Night (semifinal official canvass)
The “semifinal official canvass”6 begins after the polls close on Election Night. In Monterey County,
and in all other central tabulation counties, all materials from the polling places are returned to the
central Elections Department in Salinas. Closing procedures can only begin after all voters have left
the polling place (see Endnote 13, from Page 7). With some Monterey County polling places as far
north as Watsonville, to the coast in Big Sur, to as far south as Lockwood, travel time to the central
location can be an hour or more.
Closing procedures are detailed and require many steps of verification before the materials can be
returned to the central location. Also, because procedures often require two people (verification and
sign off of all steps by two poll workers is necessary under the “two person rule”), closing procedures
can take four poll workers a minimum of 15 minutes in a low turnout election, to as long as 30 to 40
minutes in a high turnout or complex statewide primary election with five to six poll workers. In
smaller elections and to save cost, the Department may deploy only the minimum required poll
workers (three), leaving more work for fewer hands. Observation of closing procedures is open to the
public, and often having extra people inside the polls can slow the duties of the poll workers as they
are often interrupted to answer questions about procedures and steps they are following.
Closing procedures include: verification of all official seals, ensuring no tampering occurred between
the last verification and the close of polls (seals on ballot box, seals on official ballot bag containing
vote by mail and provisional ballots, and seals on the touch-screen voting machines); reconciliation of
all voted ballots, requiring a count and comparison of voted, unvoted, spoiled, surrendered, vote by
mail, and provisional ballots to the Roster Index of Voters; completing two complex forms containing
mathematical formulas to calculate to ensure no voted or unvoted ballot is unaccounted for (this
calculation and accounting is more complicated in a primary election due to the necessity to account
for ballots by political party, and account for decline to state voters who have crossed over to a party
election); repackaging and resealing of all voted materials, following very specific instructions on the
particular container and color seal to use for each category of ballot; processing and closing the polls
on the touch-screen voting machine, including printing the result two times (requiring a change of
printers), completing a report on the number of votes cast on the machine to hang outside the polling
place; disassemble and repackaging the touch-screen voting machine; completing and mailing a “triple
receipt” that must be compared to the reconciliation form in the Roster Index; take down all signs
inside and surrounding the polling place, disassemble voting booths, tables, chairs, reorganize and
clean in an effort to “leave it as it was found” to maintain good relations with property owners.
When the materials arrive from the polling places to the Department’s warehouse, all materials must be
re-verified and logged in to record receipt. Once the materials are secured, the official ballot box seal
may be broken and the official ballots are then inspected, re-verified, counted through a paper ballot
tabulator, and the results accumulated and reported with the vote by mail ballots. As described in the
Background section above, in August of 2007, conditions for use were placed on the County’s voting
system, forcing the Department to change from electronic touch-screen voting to the use of paper
ballot voting. Monterey County owns only three central count paper ballot tabulators through which
all paper ballots must be counted. The County has a total of 184 voting precincts, of which 124 have
Election Day polling place operations and must return voted ballots to the Department in Salinas on
Election Night for counting and reporting. The central tabulation processing of paper is more labor
intensive, requires more staff, and has extended election night reporting from anywhere from one hour
in small elections to up to 12 additional hours in a countywide, complex, high turnout election.
The Department has a small warehouse, consisting of only 2,000 square feet of useable floor space. As
stated above, the Department receives election materials from 124 voting locations – precinct ballots,
vote by mail and provisional ballots, rosters, AVC Edge unit (voting machine, data card, activator,
printer), one extra AVC Edge unit for redundancy, and unused and spoiled ballots. State conditions for
using the voting equipment call for the “two person rule” where no one person may be alone with
voted ballots or electronic results; therefore, as at the polls, each ballot box must be opened and
processed by two people working together to validate and sign off on the election materials. However,
the Department’s research has reflected that it is not a case of not being able to hire enough warehouse
workers on Election Night to process the voted returns, but it is the lack of central tabulation machines
that has slowed down the Department’s ability to tabulate and report election results efficiently.
In order to generate an election result report for the public, it is necessary to stop operation of the
central tabulating equipment to allow the election management system to process the vote data and
accumulate results. Depending on the complexity of the ballot, accumulation of data and production of
a report can take from 5 minutes in a single contest election to upwards of 207 minutes in a complex
primary election with multiple contests and measures. Additionally, in a State election, each time the
Department produces a result report for the public, the Department must also create a separate and
additional report for the Secretary of State. This report is completed manually, and includes more
details about the breakdown of votes than the report generated for the public, such as a breakdown of
contests by political subdivision (congressional, senatorial, assembly, supervisorial, and city), and a
breakdown by political party (primary elections only). This is very time consuming and tedious. Each
time the tabulation is stopped, the Department adds time and complexity to election night
administration, increasing the chances of human error.
Reporting Results After Election Day (final official 28-day canvass)
State law provides 28-days for the local elections official to complete all steps of the official canvass
and certify the election results. In addition to processing voted ballots that were not counted on
Election Night, the 28-day canvass includes several important steps, including, reproducing and
tabulation of any damaged ballots; steps to validate the accuracy of the final result, such as an
inspection of all materials and supplies returned by poll workers, and a agreement of the signatures on
the voter roster with the number of ballots cast, spoiled, canceled, over-voted or invalidated; a hand-
count of valid write-in votes (because the machine cannot read the name the voter wrote, each ballot is
reviewed by staff, one by one); and a final report to the official governing bodies. All of these
important procedures are administered simultaneously within the 28-day canvass and overseen by a
small team of nine core employees, including the Registrar and Assistant Registrar of Voters and
supplemented by temporary workers.
However, processing and tabulating voted ballots is understandably one of the steps that is of the
highest public interest. With the increase in voters choosing to vote by mail, as well as waiting until
the deadline to request a ballot (one week before the election) and waiting until Election Day to return
their vote8, this has created a delay in the election official’s ability to issue results on Election Night
that include a higher return of vote by mail ballots as well as finalize results quickly.
In an average to high turnout countywide election, it takes the Department up to two weeks to verify
and tabulate all vote by mail and provisional ballots. In order to prevent voter fraud, provisional and
vote by mail ballots issued after the printing of the Roster Index must be held aside until all signatures
in the Roster Index are reconciled with the number of ballots issued, and all proper voter history is
determined. In a high turnout election, this reconciliation can take days, prolonging the review,
processing and reporting results of late requested vote by mail and provisional ballots. Also, because
Monterey County has a high number of voters who vote by mail and wait to return their ballot the
weekend prior to the Election or at a polling place on Election Day9, the Department may have
anywhere from 6,000 to 40,000 ballots left to process during a high turnout election10.
The processing of vote by mail ballots is labor intensive and requires multiple steps leading up to
tabulation, including logging receipt, signature and address verification, hand sorting by precinct
number (184 sorts), open (machine slice) envelopes, extract ballots and prepare for tabulation. A
simple time study shows that it may take five people up to ten hours to complete all steps to process
5,000 vote by mail envelopes and ready them for tabulation. It typically takes up to three hours to
count a few thousand paper ballots through the three central tabulation machines and generate results,
simply due to the necessity to start and stop the tabulating machines in order report for each of the 184
precincts11. The processing of provisional ballots is just as labor intensive as with vote by mail ballots,
however, provisional ballots also require more research into voter records, reviewing current and past
registration records to ensure the voter is properly registered and the ballot is counted in the
appropriate voting precinct. In a primary election, the voter’s political party is also often a point of
research to ensure the voter participates in the correct political primary contests.
One final comment is regarding staff fatigue. As is known, Election Day voting hours are from 7:00
a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Department’s hours are much longer, beginning at 6:00 a.m. and working
through the midnight hour, sometimes into the next day. Large high turnout elections require long
hours, where staff may work six or seven-day work weeks in order to accomplish all mandated
activities within the legal time frame. Because Election Night does not often end for the Department
staff until the early morning hours of the next day and the Department must be open to the public at
8:00 a.m. the following morning, staff fatigue increases in the first days of the canvass due to the sheer
number of hours already worked leading up to Election Day. As the Registrar of Voters and
Department Head, I cannot and will not ask my staff to maintain ten to eleven-hour working days,
seven days a week in an effort to rush through any portion of the election process. Fatigue leads to
human error that can have a compounding effect on the election as a whole. This would most certainly
be of detriment to the administration of the Election and may put the County at risk of lawsuit.
Researching California Counties - Comparing Operations
To gain a better understanding of how frequently other California counties report election results, the
Department asked 12 questions regarding their county’s operations, including the frequency of
producing election results, the number of physical and mail ballot precincts, the square mileage of the
county, the distance and travel time for the farthest outlying polling location, the number of receiving
centers (if any), average number of poll workers, total number of central vote tabulating machines, and
the average number of ballots remaining to count and report during the 28-day canvass. State Election
Law does not mandate the frequency of reporting results, and, as expected, schedules varied.
Releasing Results on Election Night: The majority of the counties responded that they provide
multiple reports on Election Night, releasing their first report shortly after 8:00 p.m., and then every
one to two hours once the polling place results begin to arrive after 9:00 p.m. Seven counties indicated
providing a pre-determined schedule for releasing results to the public. Only ten of the responding
counties indicate issuing reports every 30 to 45 minutes. The results also showed that three of the ten
issuing reports every 30 to 45 minutes were central tabulation counties and owned at least four central
count paper ballot tabulators. Monterey County owns three.
No county surveyed included results from an Election Day polling place in their 8:30 report as most
reported that precinct materials didn’t arrive to the office until close to 9:00 p.m. Of the counties that
indicated releasing the second report at 8:30 p.m. did specify the only additional votes reflected in that
report were from the mail ballot precinct voters. The county merely has a practice of issuing two
separate reports, rather than one. Monterey County has typically released a single report reflecting both
vote by mail voters and all mail ballot precinct voters (these are the very first votes reflected in the
“precinct votes” category of the results report), rather than suppressing the votes in the first report and
releasing them 30 minutes later. A second report would contain no more vote totals than the current
format of the first report the Department has traditionally issued.
The majority of the central tabulation counties indicated they could not release a 9:00 p.m. report with
physical precincts, except in a low turnout, small geographical area, simple contest election. Rather,
central tabulation counties indicated their first result reflecting precinct results returned from the
polling places until 9:30 p.m. or later.
The research also reflected that, after the Top-to-Bottom review and new conditions for use of touch-
screen voting machines, 29 California Counties (30 including Monterey) had to revert back to paper
ballot voting systems and central tabulation operations where votes are processed at the main election
office, taking it much longer to finalize election results. The Department also noted that only five of
the 57 reporting counties indicate they hire one extra poll worker to assist with closing procedures in
order to expedite the return of election results; and, of the five, three were central count operations like
Monterey. Should Monterey consider hiring extra poll workers, it may be estimated to increase the
cost of a countywide election anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 in extra poll worker salary, additional
specialized “closer” classes and associated materials. However, as stated earlier on Page 2, under
“Reporting Results on Election Night (semifinal official canvass)”, the Department’s research has
reflected that it is not a case of not being able to hire enough workers on Election Night, but it is the
lack of central tabulation machines that have slowed down the Department’s ability to tabulate and
report election results more efficiently.
The research also showed that the 28 counties who operate machines that tabulate ballots at the polling
place level and had less of an impact from the outcome of the Top-to-Bottom Review as they were
already operating paper ballot voting systems, tend to release election results more frequently because
they are not processing and tabulating paper ballots on Election Night in order to report results, they
are merely extracting data results from the ballots tabulated at the precinct upon the close of polls.
Monterey County owns three central count ballot tabulators and does not own precinct level ballot
tabulators. Should Monterey County contemplate additional ballot tabulating equipment, the County
may obtain used ballot tabulating equipment through Dominion Voting Systems, who recently
purchased all remaining assets from Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc.; obtain new ballot tabulating
equipment through Dominion Voting Systems, should their current system be certified by the Secretary
of State to blend with the County’s current system; or, alternately, the County may seek an entirely
new voting system, however, funding new systems may be extraordinarily difficult at this time.
Releasing Results during the 28-day Canvass: The responses regarding the practice of issuing
updated results throughout the official canvass was even more variable. Some indicated they only
issue one final report at the conclusion of the official canvass, with the majority issuing weekly
updates during the canvass, typically on a Friday. However, some also indicated, as during Election
Night, they issue no predetermined reporting schedule, meaning the reporting during the canvass is
dictated by the sheer number of ballots remaining to be counted.
After Election Day, counties are left with ballots that were not processed on Election Night – these are
vote by mail ballots not counted and reported on Election Night, damaged ballots that must be
reviewed and duplicated, provisional ballots, and write-in votes. A majority of counties reported
having anywhere from 5,000 – 20,000 ballots remaining after a typical election day, however counties
with high levels of vote by mail voters, like Monterey, reported having 20,000 to 50,000 ballots
remaining to be counted, and this number is on the rise each election. (The counties on the higher end
of the scale also had a higher number of registered voters.) Voter behavior of holding on to the ballot
until the days just prior to or waiting until Election Day to drop their voted ballot at a polling place has
lengthened the time election officials need to process all valid ballots and report final results. It has
also made the 28-day canvass of the remaining votes much more important to understand.
With vote by mail voting on the rise, this trend can continue to be expected.
Final Outcome – Amended Reporting Schedule
As indicated in the Board Report, based upon research and review of the Department’s system and
operations, the Department has developed a reporting schedule for both Election Night and the official
28-day canvass of the vote.
An Election Night reporting schedule was implemented and publicly announced with the August 17,
2010 Special General Election. In the day’s prior to the Election, the Department issued a press
release announcing the reporting schedule informing the public that results would be available shortly
after all polls closed at approximately 8:15 p.m., then again at 10:00 p.m., and every hour thereafter
until complete. The Department adhered to the reporting schedule on Election Night. The Department
also issued a pre-election and post-election/28-day canvass observation schedule for the public,
reflecting the days and times ballots would be tabulated and results released (see final paragraph under
“Background” at the top of Page 2, and associated endnote). These are posted on the Department’s
website and front door for public information, as well as announced through Twitter.
The Department did not issue a report at 9:00 p.m. As stated above, the Department does not receive
materials from polling place locations in advance enough to be processed and reported at that hour.12
The referral seeks meaningful results in an effort to keep the public better informed on election night.
The Department has determined that it is possible to separate the vote data in the first report that
normally includes vote by mail and mail ballot precinct results, allowing the Department to issue the
first report including vote by mail voters at 8:15 p.m. or shortly thereafter, and a second report at
approximately 9:00 p.m., updated to only include ballots counted from the County’s mail ballot
precincts. However, a 9:00 p.m. report would include no more ballots counted than what is
traditionally reported in the 8:15 p.m. report, which will give the public the perception that the
Department has received additional results to report and may appear more meaningful than actually is.
As the referral did not specify the suggested reporting schedule should be for certain types of elections,
the Department must assume the referral contemplates the reporting schedule for all elections. To
introduce multiple reporting schedules based upon the type of election is to introduce opportunity for
increased human error and confusion. Therefore, Election Night reporting will be consistent with the
same schedule, no matter the type and turnout. General descriptions of operations and reporting
schedules will be posted on the Department’s website for public information and to allow for more
transparency in operations surrounding election night and the 28-day canvass.
Election Night Results Reporting
The initial reporting time scheduled for 8:15 p.m. may vary and will depend upon the time poll
workers can confirm there are no more voters. In high turnout elections, the first report may be
delayed. In the November 2008 Presidential General Election, there were eligible voters still casting
ballots in the main Department in Salinas until after 8:30 p.m., preventing the Department from
releasing any result until 8:50 p.m.13
8:15 p.m. Vote by Mail and Mail Ballot Precinct (includes
permanent vote by mail voters, military/overseas,
special mail, and Mail Ballot Precinct voters
without a physical polling pace)
10:00 p.m. 1st Cumulative Vote by Mail, Mail Ballot
Precinct, and Polling Place results that have
arrived to the Central location prior to 9:30
11:00 p.m. 2nd Cumulative Report
12:00 a.m. 3rd Cumulative Report
1:00 a.m. Hourly throughout the night until 100% of the
Polling Places/Precincts have been reported.
28-Day Canvass Results Reporting
After Election Day, the Department can release cumulative reports once each week, including the week
of the Election. The 28-day Canvass reporting schedule does not reflect daily result updates from the
Department. As stated in this report, the Department provides the public a schedule of events
happening at the Department for which any person may observe, including an announcement of the
date, location, and time that the Department will be processing voted ballots and releasing updated
results to the public. The Department believes this practice has kept the public well informed of the
time and date results will be released during the 28-day canvass.
As stated earlier, the Department typically receives anywhere from 6,000 – 20,000 vote by mail ballots
in the days preceding the election, and in larger elections, this number can climb to 40,000. State
Election law mandates that, in order to count vote by mail ballots, the information on the envelope
must be compared and match to the information on the voter’s record first. As stated on Page 3, under
“Reporting Results After Election Day”, the Department reported it can successfully process, tabulate
and report results on 2,500 ballots in one day (five hours to validate, open, extract and prepare for
tabulation, and an estimated two to three hours to tabulate and report), making it difficult to release
countywide results reflecting votes for all contests on a daily basis that is meaningful to the public
(2,500 votes spread across a potential 184 precincts may equate to an average of 13 votes per precinct).
Additionally, expediting the detailed work that goes behind the validation and tabulation of official
ballots, and other important steps of the election canvass is not administratively prudent should a
contest be close and a recount be called.
Provisional ballots take longer to validate and report. It will not be possible for the Department to
include vote results from provisional ballots until the week following the election due to the initial wait
time to validate the provisional envelope, which requires verifying the Roster Index and vote by mail
voter data to ensure no provisional voter has voted twice. In large high turnout elections, the
Department may have 500 or more provisional ballots to validate.
Updated cumulative reports will be issued according to the schedule below:
First Friday following Election (E+3) Remaining Vote by Mail and Mail Ballot Precinct
ballots received up to 8:00 p.m. on Election Night
but not included in the first report
Second Friday (E+10) Remaining Vote by Mail (if necessary),
Provisional and Duplicates
Third Friday (E+17) Remaining Provisional and Duplicates (if
Final Certification (E+28 or sooner) Final Results, listed by precinct, broken down by
vote by mail and polling place results, includes all
valid write-in votes
Invitation to Tour the Department and Observe Results Reporting
We would like to set up a tour of the Department and offer a first hand look at how the canvass occurs
on Election Night. The next scheduled election will be Tuesday, November 2, 2010. The Department
can start the tour at approximately 6:30 p.m., allowing enough time to tour the facility, observe voting
activity at the Department, see how information is disseminated that polls are closed and results can be
released, and watch precinct returns arrive, be validated, ballots tabulated, and results generated.
Additionally, for any Supervisor or staff who wish to visit a polling place to observe closing
procedures described in this report, the Department will set up transportation to and from the polling
place and bring the individuals back to the Department in time to see precinct returns arrive, be
processed, and results released to the public. An invitation will be provided in advance.
The Department also encourages the Supervisors or their staff to volunteer to be a poll worker in
Monterey County, and gain first-hand experience on what it is like to serve voters at the polls,
administer opening and closing procedures, including reconcile all official ballot materials, and
directly participate in Democracy in Monterey County. We do realize that State Election Law
mandates elections are held on Tuesdays, which is also a regularly scheduled Board meeting date and
may cause conflict.
Research consisted of six countywide elections and three large scale elections consisting of over 89,000 voters, using all
paper ballot voting: November 4, 2007, February 5, 2008, June 3, 2008, November 4, 2008, May 19, 2009, November 7,
2009, June 8, 2010, June 22, 2010, and August 17, 2010. The research excludes all mail ballot elections.
The first result report issued on Election Night, consisting solely of ballots voted by mail, contained as low as 59% to as
high as 100% of the election results released before midnight on Election Night. The November 2008 Presidential General
Election reflected the lowest percentage, at 59%, due to high precinct turnout. Two elections, November 2007 and May
2009, the final Election Night report was issued at 12:30 a.m. and 12:28 a.m. respectively.
The first result report issued on Election Night, consisting solely of ballots voted by mail, contained as low as 41% to as
high as 88% of the final election results released at the end of the 28-day canvass. The November 2008 Presidential
General Election reflected the lowest percentage, at 41%, due to the high number of unprocessed ballots on Election Night,
The Department did not review statewide contests or contests where the final results were not solely determined by
Monterey County voters, but were accumulated and determined with other county results.
California Elections Code §15104 mandates the county election official publicly announce the time, place, and date that
vote by mail ballots will be processed, including signature verification, extraction and tabulation.
California Elections Code 353.5. The "semifinal official canvass" is the public process of collecting, processing, and
tallying ballots and, for state or statewide elections, reporting results to the Secretary of State on election night. The
semifinal official canvass may include some or all of the vote by mail and provisional vote totals.
For the June 2010 Statewide Primary, it took the system 17 minutes just to accumulate vote data to issue a public report.
This means, ballot tabulation operations stopped for a minimum of 20 minutes each time a report was produced.
From June 2007 to today, the number of permanent vote by mail voters voting on paper ballots has risen 75%. This, along
with voters holding onto their voted ballot up to the days before the Election, and moving to all paper voting at the polls ,
has increased the workload for the 28-day canvass. As an example, the number of remaining ballots left to process after
Election Day was 62% higher in June 2010 as compared to June 2008.
State Election Law permits all voters to cast their ballot up to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, including vote by mail voters.
The election official must receive, but is not mandated to verify and tabulate, the voted ballot by the close of polls.
For the November 2008 Presidential General, the final Election Night result showed 91,491 votes cast and the final report
at the completion of the canvass showed 131,381 votes cast, a difference of 39,890 ballots remaining to be validated and
counted during the 28-day canvass.
This example is from the recent August 17, 2010 Special General Election. The Department was able to machine
tabulate 4,835 ballots in three hours, commencing at 8:30 a.m. and releasing a report at 11:30 a.m. This was a simple
election, containing one candidate contest, and vote for one option with no official qualified write-in candidates.
The Department’s research of nine significant elections (see endnote 1) consistently reflected that the first precinct did
not arrive to the Department’s central Salinas office until between 8:40 and 9:11 p.m., and the first Receiving Center truck
carrying multiple precincts did not arrive until between 9:20 and 10:27 p.m. It can take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes to
fully process one precinct and prepare voted ballots for tabulation and reporting, making it nearly impossible to include any
polling place results prior to 10:00 p.m.
California Elections Code §14401 requires that, if at the hour of closing there are any other voters in the polling place or
in line at the door who are eligible to vote, the polls must remain open a sufficient enough time to allow them to vote.