These guidelines cover observation of public election processes in the Registrar of Voters’ (ROV) office, including pre-election preparation, voting, ballot processing, ballot tabulation, and canvass. Additional guidelines may be in effect for specific events, such as recounts. Failure to follow these guidelines or the instructions of the election officials may result in an observer being asked to leave the premises.
- Sign in and be issued a badge, which must remain worn and visible at all times.
- Maintain a professional and courteous manner.
- Ensure they do not disrupt or interfere with the election process.
- Follow the County’s observer guidelines and the instructions of the election officials.
- Be accompanied by ROV personnel at all times while in restricted areas of the ROV office. This includes any areas where badge access is required or where live ballots and/or voter confidential information is present.
- Observe election procedures.
- Ask questions of election officials as long as they do not interfere with the election process.
- Whenever possible, contact the ROV in advance so that the ROV can allocate resources appropriately to accompany observers.
- Photograph or record video with prior approval of the ROV, subject to the judgement of ROV management that doing so will not impede any work processes, jeopardize the confidentiality of voter information, or jeopardize the security and safety of the process. Approval will generally be granted only for a limited duration of time and be restricted to wide-shot angles that do not closely focus on individual ballots, election materials, or work stations.
- While observing ballot verification or tallying, make a challenge. Challenges must be addressed to a manager, supervisor, lead, or other designated personnel.
OBSERVERS MAY NOT…
- Disrupt or interfere in any way with the conduct of any election, including interrupting election officials from performing their duties.
- Make physical contact with election personnel.
- Sit at the official worktables or assist in election operations.
- Physically handle any voting materials or equipment, including pens or markers, ballots, ballot containers, voting machines, or tabulation machines.
- Move or rearrange tables, chairs, or voting booths.
- Use the telephone, computers, or other ROV facilities.
- View, record, transcribe, or copy confidential voter information.
- Use electronic devices, including recording videos or photos, in areas where voters’ confidential information or voted ballots are visible or where their use would be disruptive or intimidating to voters, as designated by the election officials.
- Enter secures areas, including areas where voters’ privacy may be compromised or the election process may be disrupted, without the permission of the ROV and accompaniment by ROV personnel.
- Eat or drink in restricted areas of the ROV office.
- Give direction or instructions directly to ROV personnel. Any questions or challenges to the process must be addressed to a manager, supervisor, lead, or other designated personnel.
- Attempt to coerce or intimidate election officials to deviate from election laws and established procedures.
- Interfere with other observers’ ability to observe a process or materials.
- Wear the uniform of a peace officer, private guard, or security personnel.
- Carry weapons, including firearms, knives, bludgeons, mace, or similar items.
- Engage in Electioneering (as defined by California Elections Code 18370) within 100 feet of the entrance of a voting location, curbside voting area, or ballot drop-box, including:
- Ask a person to vote for or against any candidate or ballot measure.
- Provide materials or audible information for or against any candidate or ballot measure.
- Distribute, display, or wear any clothing (hats, shirts, signs, buttons, stickers) that include a candidate’s name, image, logo, and/or support or oppose any candidate or ballot measure.
- Display information or speak to a voter about the voter’s eligibility to vote.
THE REGISTRAR OF VOTERS MAY…
- Limit the number of concurrent observers when necessary due to limited space and available personnel.
- Limit the items observers may bring with them into restricted areas of the ROV office, such as large bags and backpacks, for safety and security reasons.
- Require observers to maintain minimum distances from personnel and work stations when necessary due to security or health and safety considerations.
- Restrict access to designated secure rooms that contain ballots, confidential materials, and election equipment, including ballot tabulation and adjudication rooms.
- Ask observers to limit excessive conversation or conversation not related to the observation process if it interferes with election officials’ ability to concentrate on their work or communicate effectively with each other and with voters.
- Contact law enforcement if any visitors refuse to follow these guidelines and applicable election laws or refuse to leave the premises when asked by ROV personnel due to egregious or repeated violation of these rules.
- Have discretion in determining what constitutes observer misconduct or interference and take any steps necessary to maintain the integrity of the election process.