The Canvass

The official canvass of votes cast at the November 8, 2016 Presidential General Election may begin no later than Thursday, November 10, 2016 pursuant to Elections Code §15301, 15372.  The Canvass procedures comply with the October 25, 2007 Secretary of State “…Conditional Re-Approval of the Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc…”

All post-election manual tally requirements must be completed within the canvass period established by Elections Code §10262 and §15372.

Periodic updates of results before final: The Elections Department will do periodic updates of the vote count.  Once all provisional ballots and vote-by-mail ballots are processed and precinct supplies are sorted through to ensure all ballots are accounted for, a final count of ballots will take place.  The time and date of any update and the final count will be posted on our website.

Vote-by-Mail ballot numbers provided by: Vote-by-Mail ballots may be dropped off at any polling place on Election Day. In addition, numerous vote-by-mail ballots are received in the mail or our drop box in front of the county building in the final days before the election and are stored in trays until after Election Day when there is adequate time to process these ballots. Ballots postmarked by Election Day and received in the mail by the Friday after the election will be added to the count if the voter is qualified. 

On election night, the Elections Department will be able to provide an estimate of the number of vote-by-mail ballots received that remain to be counted during the canvass.

Once all of the vote-by-mail ballots are keyed into the computer system and flagged as returned, we will be able to provide a count of vote-by-mail ballots left to be processed. A report can be run that will show how many remain in each ballot type.

Usually, this report is available a week after the election.


Vote-by-Mail Ballot Processing:  On election night all the vote-by-mail ballots that have been received and processed prior to Election Day are counted.  The law allows elections officials to begin to process vote-by-mail ballots 10 working days prior to the election.  For a vote-by-mail ballot to be ready to be counted, the following has to occur: 

a) flag returned vote-by-mail ballots on computer system;

b) compare signature of voter on vote-by-mail ballot envelope to the signature on computer from the voter's registration affidavit, if there is a discrepancy, the ballot is separated for review by a supervisor;

c)  sort vote-by-mail ballots by consolidated voting precinct;

d) open vote-by-mail ballot identification envelopes within each sorted group.   Identification envelopes are placed signature side down and the voted ballot is removed.  Envelopes returned empty without a ballot is noted.  Empty identification envelops are removed from the table.  The number of opened vote-by-mail ballot identification envelopes are counted and the number of voted ballots are counted.  If numbers do not match, research is done until the numbers are reconciled;

e) voted ballots are then  inspected for damage or marks that would affect the accuracy of counting the ballot.  Ballots are corrected pursuant to Elections Code §15210 or duplicated if necessary by the canvassing board.

f) vote-by-mail ballots issued on the day before or the day of the election are verified against the precinct rosters prior to processing to ensure against voting twice.  Lists of vote-by-mail voters who are issued ballots prior to the day before the election are delivered to the precinct inspectors who mark the names in the Alpha Index as having already received a ballot.

g) ballots are then prepared for tallying final election results.

It typically takes approximately 10 days to process the outstanding Vote-by-Mail ballots.

Provisional Ballot Numbers & Processing: 

The number of provisional ballots voted at each precinct is available election night.  However, the number of provisional ballots voted at the Elections office or central location are not tallied. Therefore, an official number of provisional ballots to be processed will not be available until the ballot envelopes are researched and keyed into the computer.

The Elections Department does not provide a breakdown of the numbers of provisional ballots by district, but can provide the list of those turned in by precinct and a list of precincts in each district.

Provisional voters include:

  • registered voters who move within the same county but fail to re‑register to vote, who vote at their new polling place, the Elections Department or central location;
  • voters who are not listed on the Alpha Index at the polling place;
  • voters who have been issued a vote-by-mail ballot, show up at the polling place to vote, but fail to surrender their vote-by-mail ballot;
  • any other voter whose eligibility to vote was questioned by the precinct officer.

Provisional ballots are investigated by the Canvass Board once all of the vote-by-mail ballots have been keyed in as returned.  Where there is a question of the voter's right to vote, the supervisor investigates.  All valid provisional ballots are then prepared for the official count.

The provisional ballot process takes 5 to 10 days following completion of the Vote-by-Mail ballot processing.

Reconciliation – Precinct Ballots:  The Canvass Board reviews Ballot Statements for accuracy and compares numbers of ballots counted by the computer to the number recorded by the Precinct Board.  The Canvass Board verifies the number of Vote-by-Mail and Provisional ballots reported turned in by the Precinct Board with the number received by the Receiving Board on Election night.  Differences are computed and discrepancies are investigated.  Ballots which were not tallied election night because they were damaged or rejected by the scanners are remade for the final ballot count.  The Canvass Board also examines each roster for completion of all Certificates, Oaths and Declarations.  Irregularities are noted and investigated.   Payroll forms are forwarded to the Election Officer Coordinator who enters in the appropriate information on the computer data base and forwards the payroll data to the Auditor.

This procedure takes 3 to 5 days.



Write-in Votes:  Votes for qualified write‑in candidates are manually counted by precinct.  A summary of the votes cast for qualified write‑in candidates is printed in the certified statement of vote.  A copy is available upon the final tally of the votes cast.  Votes are not tallied for write‑in candidates that did not file as a qualified write‑in candidate.

This procedure takes 3 to 5 days depending on the number of write‑in candidates.

1% Manual Recount (§15360):  (a) During the official canvass of every election in which a voting system is used, the official conducting the election shall conduct a public manual tally of the ballots tabulated by those devices, including absent voters' ballots, cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the elections official. If 1 percent of the precincts is less than one whole precinct, the tally shall be conducted in one precinct chosen at random by the elections official.

In addition to the 1 percent manual tally, the elections official shall, for each race not included in the initial group of precincts, count one additional precinct. The manual tally shall apply only to the race not previously counted.

Additional precincts for the manual tally may be selected at the discretion of the elections official.

(b) If vote-by-mail ballots are cast on a direct recording electronic voting system at the office of an elections official or at a satellite location of the office of an elections official pursuant to Section 3018, the official conducting the election shall either include those ballots in the manual tally conducted pursuant to subdivision (a) or conduct a public manual tally of those ballots cast on no fewer than 1 percent of all the direct recording electronic voting machines used in that election chosen at random by the elections official.

(c) The elections official shall use either a random number generator or other method specified in regulations that shall be adopted by the Secretary of State to randomly choose the initial precincts or direct recording electronic voting machines subject to the public manual tally.

(d) The manual tally shall be a public process, with the official conducting the election providing at least a five-day public notice of the time and place of the manual tally and of the time and place of the selection of the precincts to be tallied prior to conducting the tally and selection.

(e) The official conducting the election shall include a report on the results of the 1 percent manual tally in the certification of the official canvass of the vote. This report shall identify any discrepancies between the machine count and the manual tally and a description of how each of these discrepancies was resolved. In resolving any discrepancy involving a vote recorded by means of a punchcard voting system or by electronic or electromechanical vote tabulating devices, the voter verified paper audit trail shall govern if there is a discrepancy between it and the electronic record.

The 1 percent tally procedure takes approximately 5 to 10 days.

Manual Tally of Touchscreens: Election officials are required to conduct a manual tally, by the process described in Elections Code section 15360, of the electronic results tabulated on each DRE machine in use on Election Day. Notice to the public of this manual tally may be combined with the notice required by any other manual tally required in this order or by Elections Code section 15360.

The manual tally procedure is estimated to take approximately 15 days.



Final Official Count:  The Logic and Accuracy Test is run, reviewed and approved to ensure the card readers are operating correctly.  The vote-by-mail, provisional and any remade ballots are then counted by the 400C ballot counter.  A final computer print‑out summarizing the votes in all races is then made available.  Any irregularities and/or discrepancies are investigated and reconciled. 

A Statement of the Votes cast includes:

  • The total number of ballots cast;
  • The number of votes cast at each precinct for each candidate and for and against each measure;
  • The total number of votes cast for each candidate and for and against each measure;
  • The total number of votes cast in each city, Assembly district, Congressional district, Senatorial district, State Board of Equalization district, Supervisorial district for each candidate for the offices of presidential elector and all statewide offices and on each statewide ballot proposition.

A certified copy of the Statement of Vote is available for purchase within 7 days of the final count and will be available online at