What Happens After the Election?

Jim McCauley, County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters

Elections Office
2956 Richardson Drive
PO Box 5278
Auburn, CA 95604
(530) 886-5650
E-mail: [email protected]

The election canvass process is an internal audit and is required by state law to ensure the accuracy of election results. California election law allows 28 days for the conduct of the official canvass. All aspects of the canvass are open to public inspection. During the canvass, absentee and provisional ballots not counted on election night are researched to validate eligibility. The canvass concludes with the certification and issuance of official election results. Listed below are the major components of the official canvass.

Roster Reconciliation

Following the close of the polls election night, precinct officers are responsible for completing the Official Ballot Statement. The statement lists the exact number of voted ballots, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, roster signatures, etc. As part of the official canvass, the number of signatures indicated by the inspector on the roster is compared to the number of ballots tabulated by the computer tally system.

1% Manual Vote Tally

All voted ballots from a randomly selected 1% of the voting precincts are manually tallied and balanced against the computer counts to verify the accuracy of the election tally system. This process is required by law.

Ballots Added During Official Canvass

The following ballots are withheld from the tally system on election night. Once eligibility is determined, these ballots are added to the election results. Withheld ballot types include:

  1. Vote By Mail Ballots returned on election day to our office and dropped off at polling locations. These ballots do not arrive in sufficient time to be individually signature-verified, opened and prepared for tabulation on election night.
  2. Damaged Ballots that are unable to be processed through the election tally system and, therefore, must be manually duplicated prior to tabulation.
  3. Provisional Ballots issued at the voting locations on election day must be individually researched to determine eligibility and is a time consuming process. Provisional ballots are issued at polling locations when a person's voter registration cannot immediately be authorized.

    On election day, each voted provisional is placed in a special blue envelope so that they can be separated from the regular voted ballots. On election night they are transported to the tally center in Auburn, with all the other ballots. During the canvass period after election night, each provisional ballot is researched to determine eligibility of the voter. Since there may be several hundreds involved, it takes time to carefully check each one through the computer registration files. After the determination is made and if the voter is qualified to vote, their ballots are added to the overall total for the election.
  4. Write-In Ballots must be individually reviewed to determine if the write-in vote is for a qualified or unqualified write-in candidate and whether or not the voter also voted for a candidate listed on the ballot for the same office (i.e. overvoted the ballot.)

At the November 2006 Election, approximately 30,000 provisional, absentee and damaged ballots remained to be processed after election night.