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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

June 7th Presidential Primary Election final ballot counting complete and certified

June 27, 2016 – Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley has just certified the official results of the Presidential Primary Election held on June 7, 2016 (final ballot counting was complete Friday evening).

Total turnout from the election was 49.6% with 29.2% of voters casting their ballot by mail and 20.3% of voters voting in their polling place. In the 2012 Presidential Primary overall turnout was 26.5%, vote-by-mail voting was 17.5% and polling place voting was 9.0%.

The Orange County Registrar of Voters produces detailed reports focusing on overall turnout, turnout by precinct, turnout by districts, turnout by cities, and more. These detailed reports can be found in the "Results" section by visiting ocvote.com.

 
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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Why does it take weeks to count ballots? The journey of a single ballot

June 18, 2016 - It's not widely known among the public that election officials in California have 30 days to complete ballot counting following Election Day. Why so long? Volume, volume, volume. Take for instance the journey of a single "ballot" - here's how it unfolds:

  1. "Ballot" is received by us through the USPS
  2. "Ballot", along with tens of thousands, begins a journey in its envelope through a high-speed scanner, which will "take a picture" of the back of the envelope that contains the voter's signature
  3. "Ballot" is then set aside in a holding pattern while files of all of the digital images are prepared for review
  4. "Ballot" image is then sent to dozens of operators who will look at the signature on the envelope (four at a time on a screen by the way) and compare it to the signature we have on file from the original voter registration
  5. "Ballot" is rejected in the initial review because the signature does not match - the data is held along with tens of thousands of other ballots
  6. "Ballot" comes out of the holding pattern and back through the high speed scanners, still in its sealed envelope, where the barcode is now scanned, along with, you guessed it - tens of thousands of other ballots
  7. "Ballot" is out-sorted to its own bin because it needs to go to a second tier review for a closer examination of the signature
  8. "Ballot" travels in a tray, along with other ballots, to the second tier for review
  9. "Ballot" sits for a bit because the second tier review takes time - any voter would want that to ensure a valid ballot is counted
  10. "Ballot" is determined eligible in the system and heads back to the high-speed scanners
  11. "Ballot" is put through the high-speed scanner again but this time the barcode signals to move the ballot to a "good" bin, which outsorts it for opening
  12. "Ballot" moves in a tray to a series of automated openers, which splits the envelope open and automatically extracts the ballot, while staying with its fellow ballots from its own precinct
  13. "Ballot" moves, along with tens of thousands, to a sorting station where the "ballot" is flattened by hand in preparation for scanning
  14. "Ballot" is moved to a second sorting station where it is placed in "batches" for scanning, but not before one last check is made for any staples, or paper clips, or other items that could damage a scanner
  15. "Ballot" is scanned at high speed along with thousands of other ballots, where properly marked votes are automatically tallied by voting system
  16. "Ballot" barcode was accidentally marked through by the voter so scanner rejects the ballot on the first pass
  17. "Ballot" is pulled later due to the reject and heads into the manual duplication room
  18. "Ballot" votes are placed onto a blank ballot, with good barcodes (the barcodes are needed to orient the ballot from top to bottom and left to right, to ensure it is read properly)
  19. "Ballot" goes back into scan room and is scanned and read properly, recording the vote
  20. Data from "ballot" is extracted from data card and placed into Tally system for addition into total votes cast
  21. "Ballot" vote shows up as one of tens of thousands of votes online for the public to see.


Multiply this times hundreds of thousands, do the math on the time, and now you understand why it takes weeks to count ballots. This system has evolved over decades through laws, regulations and efficient operations to ensure precise counting of every vote is tallied. This is proven every election through multiple layers of audits on a federally and state certified system.

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Process of pulling ballots critical to final ballot accounting

June 17, 2016 - This post focuses on just one aspect of the extreme level of detail required after every election. We are currently in the process of "pulling" rejected ballots. A rejected ballot occurs for a couple of reasons - for instance, during the scanning process the second page of a two-page ballot is missing (they can become separated during the ballot preparation process or voters may mail in the second page if they forgot to send it initially). We must search for every missing second page to ensure the entire ballot is counted. In addition, if our scanners cannot read the barcode on a ballot (which is required to orient the ballot) then it will "reject" it - we must find every one of these "rejects" in order to scan them in and tally the votes. 

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Can we have 2 minutes of your time for a provisional ballot discussion?

June 14, 2016 - So it's true, we have the same questions every election - why do provisional ballots take so much time to process?  Let's walk through it - a provisional ballot is the "safety net" for voters to ensure if they are indeed eligible to vote that their vote will be counted. The top reasons voters vote provisionally? They are in the wrong polling place (we urge voters to read their sample ballot for their updated polling place); They did not bring their vote-by-mail ballot with them (you'd be surprised how many people have forgotten that when they registered to vote they requested a vote-by-mail ballot); and they want to vote a different party ballot (and are not an NPP voter).

The envelope itself is designed to gather critical information from the voter so that we can verify their eligibility to vote - this can take (on average) 2 minutes per voter to determine their eligibility. We investigate their voter record, their signature, their voter registration in other counties, etc. in order to do everything we can to ensure their vote is counted IF it should be (for instance - are they really registered in Orange County or did they forget that they were registered in Los Angeles County - it happens a lot).

Bottom line - it's a tedious process for a reason - making sure every last eligible vote is counted. Here's a rundown of the numbers:

Total provisional ballots cast in the June 7th Primary Election: 61,370
Average provisionals processed per day: 6,000
Provisional ballots processed today: 3,376 (the first day is always slower due to training)
Number of provisional ballots left in Orange County: 60,244
Average time to process a single provisional ballot: 2.5 minutes
Number of individuals processing provisional ballots: 32

 

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Late eligible ballots top nearly 14,000 total

June 11, 2016 - Last night we picked up the last of the remaining late eligible mail ballots for the June 7th Primary Election. New laws in California allow ballots to be counted if they were mailed on or before Election Day and are postmarked (or signed and dated) on or before Election Day. In the three days following June 7th we have received 13,828 in this category. Consider that in the past, prior to the new laws, we would receive about 6,000 ballots in a large election that would arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Night - meaning 6,000 votes would not be counted. On our last pick up last night (at 8 p.m.) we received 36 additional ballots. You can view a breakdown of ballots left to county here.

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

You should check out this OC election results map

June 10, 2016 - Our new election mapping tool has the June 7th Primary Election data uploaded for full review. You can look at results and turnout throughout the County in many different ways. From small contests to the Presidential Primary contest - see where the votes were cast, who won what districts, precincts or cities - it's all included, color coded and easy-to-read. Plus you can click on turnout and see where voters turned out throughout Orange County, whether voting-by-mail or in-person. Loading the full data set can take up to a minute but it's worth it.

Check out this new mapping tool here 


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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

What is the status of post Election Day ballot counting?

June 9, 2016 - It was a record setting day in Orange County - nearly 110,000 vote-by-mail ballots were dropped off directly at polling places on Election Day. The last time we broke a record was the General Election in 2012, when 90,000 ballots were dropped off. This means that we start from scratch in the days following June 7th, which means that we must organize, perform signature checks, open, prepare and scan these ballots. 

On Election Night we posted results from every ballot received through June 6th. Everything we are processing now were cast by voters on Election Day, or dropped off on June 7th. Here's the current breakdown:

Total ballots left to count: 198,545
Total vote-by-mail ballots left to count: 112,751
Total provisional ballots left to count: 61,370
Total Election Day paper ballots left to count: 11,200
Total ballots received after Election Day left to count: 13,224

These ballots will take 7-10 days to process (not just count, but signature check, open, prepare, scan, tally, etc.). 

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Orange County's Voting Tip of the Day: Time running out? Mail your ballot by Election Day

June 2, 2016 - Here's an important news flash - a new law in California allows voters to mail their ballot on Election Day. In the past, ballots had to be received "on or before" 8 p.m. on Election Night. Now, voters running late, can drop their ballot in the mail on Election Day and it will still count. An important caveat - it must be postmarked (or dated) on or before Election Day, and received in our office via mail delivery, within 3 days (by Friday, June 10, 2016) in order to be counted. So, if you can't mail it before June 7th, or you can't drop it off at one of our 1,052 polling places, then look for that friendly blue mailbox and drop it in - happy voting!

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Public Notice of Random Draw for Presidential Primary Election

June 2, 2016 - Pursuant to California Election Code section 15360 (d) this serves as public notice that we will be conducting a random draw of 1% of our precincts in the June 7, 2016 Primary Election to be used in a manual tally of votes cast. This manual tally is used to verify the electronic tally of our voting system and the vote-by-mail tally system. The random draw will occur on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. The manual tallies will follow the random draw and will take place until complete. Both processes are open to the public. Our office is located at 1300 South Grand Avenue, Building C, Santa Ana, California.

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Vote-by-mail ballot returns surge ahead of 2012 numbers

June 1, 2016 - As of today vote-by-mail ballot returns have passed returns for the 2012 Presidential Primary Election by 33.5%. In today's mail we received 35,754 as compared to 25,211 for the same number of days prior to Election Day in 2012. For the entire period of ballot returns we have received 188,096 as compared to 140,800 for the same period in 2012 (a difference of 47,296). You can track real-time ballot returns by visiting our website at ocvote.com/datacentral.

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