Election Observers

Elections are a public process, and transparency is an important part of ensuring voters have confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the election results.

Below are some of the aspects of the elections election activities that are open for the public to observe. If you are interested in being an election observer, or to confirm scheduled activities, please e-mail [email protected].

Touch Screen Ballot Marking Device & Vote Center Scanner/Tabulator Preparation and Testing

This is the loading of election data and comprehensive election logic and accuracy testing that ensures that each machine is securely programmed and prepared properly. Testing ensures the integrity of the vote counting during the election. Testing is scheduled to begin on October 1, 2020, at approximately 9:00 a.m. The testing location will be held at 2730 Junction Ave, San Jose, CA 95134.

Central Count Ballot Scanner/Tabulator (Pre-LAT Logic and Accuracy Testing)

The Central Count Ballot Scanner/Tabulator system is tested prior to each election by using a pre-marked set of test ballots. The preparation of the ballot test deck and testing of the tabulation equipment is scheduled to begin on October 23, 2020, at approximately 8:30 a.m. The testing location will be held at 1555 Berger Drive, Building 2, San Jose, CA 95112.

Returned Vote by Mail Ballot Processing

In accordance with Chapter 2 of Division 15 of the California Elections Code, for the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election, the opening and processing of returned Vote by Mail Ballot (VBM) envelopes is scheduled to begin on October 5, 2020. Ballot processing will continue through Election Day and the following weeks until complete.

For the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election, Vote by Mail Ballots postmarked on Election Day and received by Friday, November 20, 2020, will be processed. The majority of ballots are expected to be processed within a week of Election Day. However, some VBM ballots will continue to be processed through the end of the canvass period.

Under state law, Vote by Mail Ballots returned without the required voter signature on the return envelope can be corrected by the voter. An “Unsigned Ballot Statement” form is mailed to the voter to be completed and returned to the Registrar of Voters by 5:00 p.m., on December 1, 2020.

If the signature on a Vote by Mail ballot return envelope does not match the voter’s registration records, a “Signature Update Statement” form is mailed to the voter. The voter must complete and return the form to the Registrar of Voters by 5:00 p.m. on December 1, 2020.

Vote Centers

The public may observe the operation at any Vote Center during hours of operation, including Election Day, from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. For Vote Center locations and hours of operation, select Official Ballot Drop Box and Vote Center Sites Information page found under the tab Vote in Person.

Please review our Poll Watcher and Observer Guidelines and contact our office before your visit.

Election Night Ballot Receipt and Counting

The first Semifinal Official Election Results will be posted at approximately 8:05 p.m., Election Night, on the ROV website at www.sccvote.org. This first report released by the Registrar of Voters (ROV) will include the results of Vote by Mail ballots processed up to Election Day.

After the polls close at 8:00 p.m., results data from each Vote Center will be delivered by Couriers to the ROV Office, 1555 Berger Drive, Building 2, San Jose, CA, 95112, for central tabulation and reporting. The ROV will continue to process and report accumulated election results until all precincts have reported.

Updates of the semifinal official results issued throughout the canvass can be found on the ROV’s website until all steps of the canvass have been completed and results are certified.

Official Canvass

Pursuant to California Elections Code section 15301, the official canvass must start no later than the Thursday after the election. However, the ROV prefers to schedule the canvass to begin one day earlier, on Wednesday, November 4, 2020.

The official canvass process is open to the public and must continue for at least 6 hours a day (Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays excepted) until completed. ROV will extend work hours, including weekends and holidays, as needed.

The canvass includes, but is not limited to, the inspection of all materials and supplies; processing and counting valid Vote by Mail and Provisional ballots; counting valid write-in votes; and conducting the post-election manual recounts. Please contact the ROV regarding the anticipated schedule of specific activities if you are interested in a particular aspect of the canvass process.

After completing this process, the election results are then certified and made public. According to California Election Code section 15372​, the Registrar of Voters must complete all steps of the canvass and certify the vote within 30 days of the election.

More Information about Ballot Counting & the Canvass

Election Observer Guidelines

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