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Sacramento County Vote by Mail Official Ballot. (Photo: Saccounty.net)

Ballot Security and Reporting of California Election Results

After ballots are counted and sealed, the elections official may not open any ballots nor permit any ballots to be opened

By Chris Micheli, January 28, 2022 3:08 pm

California’s Elections Code has numerous provisions related to semifinal and official canvasses and related procedures in Division 15. In Chapter 4, Article 6, there are statutory provisions related to ballot security and the reporting of results that are contained in Sections 15370 to 15377.

Section 15360 requires that, after ballots are counted and sealed, the elections official may not open any ballots nor permit any ballots to be opened. Section 15371 provides that, upon completion of the count, the elections official is required to add to the results of the write-in votes and any paper ballots used as certified by the precinct board, and thereafter declare the vote, and post one copy at the counting place for public inspection.

Section 15372 requires the elections official to prepare a certified statement of the results of the election and submit it to the governing body within 30 days of the election or, in the case of school district, community college district, county board of education, or special district elections conducted on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years, no later than the last Monday before the last Friday of that month.

In addition, the elections official is required to post the certified statement of the results of the election on his or her Internet Web site in a downloadable spreadsheet format. The certified statement of the election results must be posted and maintained on the elections official’s Internet Web site for a period of at least 10 years following the election.

Section 15373 provides that, when ballots are counted under this article, the result of the vote is required to be shown by precinct. Section 15374 requires the statement of the result to show all of the following:

  • 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.

In addition, the statement of the result is required to show the number of votes cast in each city, Assembly district, congressional district, senatorial district, State Board of Equalization district, and supervisorial district located in whole or in part in the county, for each candidate for the offices of presidential elector and all statewide offices, and on each statewide ballot proposition.

Section 15375 requires the elections official to send to the Secretary of State within 31 days of the election in an electronic format in the manner requested one complete copy of all results for the following:

  • All candidates voted for statewide office.
  • All candidates voted for Member of the Assembly.
  • All candidates voted for Member of the Senate.
  • All candidates voted for Member of the United States House of Representatives.
  • All candidates voted for Member of the State Board of Equalization.
  • All candidates voted for Justice of the Court of Appeal.
  • All candidates voted for Judge of the superior court.
  • All persons voted for at the presidential primary.
  • The vote given for persons for electors of President and Vice President of the United States.
  • All statewide measures.
  • The total number of ballots cast.

Section 15376 requires the elections official to deliver a duplicate of the certified statement of the result of votes cast to the chairperson of the county central committee of each party. Section 15377 requires the elections official to identify and provide to the Secretary of State within 31 days of the election the number of ballots rejected, categorized according to the reason for the rejection. The Secretary of State is required to provide uniform reason codes for each category of rejection to be used by elections officials for reporting under this section.

Finally, the Secretary of State must publish a report containing the information for every election, including local special elections, on the Secretary of State’s internet website.

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