Code Section Group

Elections Code - ELEC

DIVISION 15. SEMIFINAL OFFICIAL CANVASS, OFFICIAL CANVASS, RECOUNT, AND TIE VOTE PROCEDURES [15000 - 15702]

  ( Heading of Division 15 amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 1073, Sec. 21. )

CHAPTER 2. Vote by Mail Ballot Processing [15100 - 15112]
  ( Heading of Chapter 2 amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 85. )

15100.
  

The provisions of this chapter apply to the processing of vote by mail ballots during the 29-day period before any election, during the semifinal official canvass, and during the official canvass.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 86. Effective January 1, 2008.)

15101.
  

(a) Any jurisdiction in which vote by mail ballots are cast may begin to process vote by mail ballot return envelopes beginning 29 days before the election. Processing vote by mail ballot return envelopes may include verifying the voter’s signature on the vote by mail ballot return envelope pursuant to Section 3019 and updating voter history records.

(b) Any jurisdiction having the necessary computer capability may start to process vote by mail ballots on the 10th business day before the election. Processing vote by mail ballots includes opening vote by mail ballot return envelopes, removing ballots, duplicating any damaged ballots, and preparing the ballots to be machine read, or machine reading them, including processing write-in votes so that they can be tallied by the machine, but under no circumstances may a vote count be accessed or released until 8 p.m. on the day of the election. All other jurisdictions shall start to process vote by mail ballots at 5 p.m. on the day before the election.

(c) Results of any vote by mail ballot tabulation or count shall not be released before the close of the polls on the day of the election.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 282, Sec. 1. (AB 2665) Effective January 1, 2019.)

15102.
  

The official shall appoint a special counting board or boards in numbers that he or she deems adequate to count the vote by mail ballots. The official shall provide for the forms of tally books and the distribution of the duties of the members of the canvassing board.

When the tally is done by hand, there shall be no less than four persons for each office or proposition to be counted. One shall read from the ballot, the second shall keep watch for any error or improper vote, and the other two shall keep the tally.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 88. Effective January 1, 2008.)

15103.
  

The elections official shall pay a reasonable compensation to each member of the canvassing board of vote by mail ballots. This compensation shall be paid out of the treasury of the agency conducting the election as other claims against it are paid.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 89. Effective January 1, 2008.)

15104.
  

(a) The processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes, and the processing and counting of vote by mail ballots, shall be open to the public, both prior to and after the election.

(b) A member of the county grand jury, and at least one member each of the Republican county central committee, the Democratic county central committee, and of any other party with a candidate on the ballot, and any other interested organization, shall be permitted to observe and challenge the manner in which the vote by mail ballots are handled, from the processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes through the counting and disposition of the ballots.

(c) The elections official shall notify vote by mail voter observers and the public at least 48 hours in advance of the dates, times, and places where vote by mail ballots will be processed and counted.

(d) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 2194, vote by mail voter observers shall be allowed sufficiently close access to enable them to observe the vote by mail ballot return envelopes and the signatures thereon and challenge whether those individuals handling vote by mail ballots are following established procedures, including all of the following:

(1) Verifying signatures and addresses on the vote by mail ballot return envelopes by comparing them to voter registration information.

(2) Duplicating accurately damaged or defective ballots.

(3) Securing vote by mail ballots to prevent tampering with them before they are counted on election day.

(e) A vote by mail voter observer shall not interfere with the orderly processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes or the processing and counting of vote by mail ballots, including the touching or handling of the ballots.

(Amended by Stats. 2009, Ch. 548, Sec. 2. (AB 1573) Effective January 1, 2010.)

15105.
  

Prior to processing and opening the identification envelopes of vote by mail voters, the elections official shall make available a list of vote by mail voters for public inspection, from which challenges may be presented. Challenges may be made for the same reasons as those made against a voter voting at a polling place. In addition, a challenge may be entered on the grounds that the ballot was not received within the time provided by this code or that a person is imprisoned for a conviction of a felony. All challenges shall be made prior to the opening of the identification envelope of the challenged vote by mail voter.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 91. Effective January 1, 2008.)

15106.
  

Except as otherwise provided, the processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes, the processing and counting of vote by mail ballots, and the disposition of challenges of vote by mail ballots shall be according to the laws now in force pertaining to the election for which they are cast. Because the voter is not present, the challenger shall have the burden of establishing extraordinary proof of the validity of the challenge at the time the challenge is made.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 92. Effective January 1, 2008.)

15107.
  

If a challenge is overruled, the board shall open the identification envelope without defacing the affidavit printed on it or mutilating the enclosed ballot and, without viewing the ballot, remove it and destroy the numbered slip, if any remains, and store the ballots in a secure location.

(Added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 1073, Sec. 25. Effective January 1, 1999.)

15108.
  

If a challenge is allowed, the board shall endorse on the face of the identification envelope the cause of the challenge and its action thereon.

(Added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 1073, Sec. 25. Effective January 1, 1999.)

15109.
  

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the counting and canvassing of vote by mail ballots shall be conducted in the same manner and under the same regulations as used for ballots cast in a precinct polling place.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 93. Effective January 1, 2008.)

15110.
  

Reports to the Secretary of State of the findings of the canvass of vote by mail ballots shall be made by the elections official pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 15150) and Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 15300).

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 94. Effective January 1, 2008.)

15111.
  

The elections official shall keep an accurate list of all voters who have received and voted a vote by mail ballot at each election and compare this list with the roster as provided in Section 15278. That list shall include the election precinct of the voter.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 806, Sec. 71. (SB 286) Effective January 1, 2018.)

15112.
  

When elections are consolidated pursuant to Division 10 (commencing with Section 10000), and only one form of ballot is used at the consolidated election, the ballots cast by vote by mail voters shall be counted only in connection with elections to which vote by mail voter privileges have been extended by law.

Whenever the period of time within which vote by mail voters’ ballots shall be received by the elections official in order to be counted, as provided for any election by this code or any other law of this state, is different from that period of time provided for another election, and the elections are consolidated and only one form of ballot used for both elections, all vote by mail voters’ ballots issued for the consolidated election may be counted for both elections if received by the elections official within whichever period of time is longer.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 508, Sec. 96. Effective January 1, 2008.)

ELECElections Code - ELEC