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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Public Notice Measure "OO", City of San Clemente, Increase in "Hotel" Guest Tax Recount

December 7, 2016 - Pursuant to California Elections Code section 15628 the Orange County Registrar of Voters will be conducting a recount of the ballots cast in the 2016 November 8th General Election, Measure OO - City of San Clemente, Increase in "Hotel" Guest Tax contest.

The election was conducted on November 8, 2016. The recount process will begin at the Registrar of Voters office, 1300 South Grand Avenue, Building C, Santa Ana, on Monday, December 12, 2016 beginning at 9 a.m. Details on the recount status will be located on our website at ocvote.com.

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

November 8th Presidential General Election final ballot counting complete and certified

December 6, 2016 – Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley has just certified the official results of the Presidential General Election held on November 8, 2016.

Total turnout from the election was 80.7% with 45.3% of voters casting their ballot by mail and 33.6% of voters voting in their polling place. 2% of voters chose to vote early in one of six Orange County Vote Centers. In the 2012 Presidential General overall turnout was 67.3%, vote-by-mail voting was 34.2% and polling place voting was 32.8%.

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

Post Election Rundown: Some facts about OC turnout and precinct comparisons

November 27, 2016 - Overall turnout for the 2016 Presidential Election is currently 10.2% higher than the 2012 Presidential Election. Overall turnout for the 29th State Senate District is 12.9% higher than the 2012 Presidential Election. A fact often overlooked is our extensive list maintenance that took place in 2013 - reducing overall registration by 350,000 countywide. The practical effect? In 2012, a precinct with 500 registered voters and 135 voters voting, would show a turnout of 26%. That same precinct, in 2016, with 350 registered voters and the same number voting (135) would show a turnout of 37.14%.

We've taken a close look at the 318 precincts that have the same precinct number in both 2012 and 2016, and have at least 1 voter registered in the 29th Senate District.

155 of these precincts had a percentage change in turnout greater than 12.9%, which would be expected, since this is near the median. Some precincts have seen a large increase in turnout percentages for various reasons. Below are examples representing the precincts with the highest increase in turnout percentage:

  • Precinct 13091 saw an increase of 50% turnout, which is the highest increase in this district. In 2012, the precinct had 6 registered voters, and 3 votes. In 2016, there are 3 registered voters and 3 votes.
  • Precinct 17628 had the next highest increase in percentage turnout. The current percentage turnout in this precinct is actually lower than the average turnout for the 29th State Senate District. The reason for the sharp increase is due to a low turnout in 2012. The low turnout in 2012 can be attributed to an unusually large turnout in precinct 17624, which was at the same polling place. Although voters were given a correct ballot, the precinct number was incorrectly reported as 17624.
  • Precinct 13391 had an increase in turnout percentage of 33.6%. The boundaries of this precinct changed in 2016 due to recent changes in district boundaries. The registration dropped from 547 voters to 86 voters, and this precinct became an all vote-by-mail ballot precinct. 

The examples above demonstrate the reasons for large changes in turnout percentage. 

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Post Election Rundown: What's the latest on our post-election ballot counting?

November 19, 2016 - As of this morning we have approximately 92,484 ballots left to count. Here's the breakdown of those ballots:

Vote-by-mail ballots: 2,277
Vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polls: 5,227
Provisional ballots: 83,376 
Election Day paper ballots: 1,342
Late eligible ballots: 262

The vast majority of paper ballots left are in two categories:

1.  Needing duplication (the ballot was damaged and could not be scanned, it was a military ballot voted on a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, or there are extraneous identifying marks on the ballot)
2.  They are orphan ballots and must be matched with the missing page

The bulk of ballots left are provisional ballots - these ballots have been sorted by cities (not districts within cities) and Assembly and Senate districts. We are currently working on the 29th Senate District race and the 49th Congressional District race. As of last night we have about 11,000 provisional ballots remaining in the 29th SD and 5,200 in the 49th CD. Our operations will continue today with our next update scheduled for 5pm on Monday.

A rundown of ballot estimates left can be found here. 

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Post Election Rundown: Sorry, what is an "orphan ballot" and how can it effect an election?

November 19, 2016 - There are many phases to post election ballot counting - especially as you begin the process of final checks prior to certification. As races narrow, any change can be dramatically highlighted - but they can happen.

Orphan ballots are single page ballots that "might" be missing their second page. This can generally happen in one of two ways:

1.  The voter (and this is the most common) mails their two-page ballot in with only a single page included.
2.  During high-speed processing the first or second page of a two page ballot becomes separated during the processing.

Because we must scan a complete ballot during the bulk of ballot processing, orphan ballots are set aside, or "rejected".  Once we have completed the majority of ballot scanning we then go on the hunt for the missing ballot pages. This is not finding a needle in a haystack, it's finding a kernel of rice in a wheat field. Although it sounds daunting, we have perfected this process. We utilize teams, armed with barcode scanners, and we begin the painstaking process of searching through about 670,000 paper ballots, or 1.2 million sheets of paper, looking for those single "orphan ballots".

What if the voter truly did not return the second page? Once we have made that determination then just the page that was returned is scanned. But if we do find the second page then we scan it as a "single ballot". This is how a very tight race can change by one or two votes all the way to final certification.

Who said elections were easy?

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Post Election Rundown: Shouldn't it be easier to estimate ballots as you count more?

November 17, 2016 - It's a common question - if there's fewer ballots why can't you estimate exactly what is left? Simple answer - there's less data to rely on as the number of ballots narrow. Here's how it works:

When there are large numbers of ballots, we can rely on data extracts from signature verifications, Election Day e-ballots issued, electronic provisional ballot access codes issued, etc. However, once that volume has reduced we end up with the "problem" ballots, which cannot be tracked using the data listed above. For instance, ballots that were returned damaged (marks over barcodes, torn, liquid stains, wrinkled, etc. - yes we see it all) must be duplicated for scanning. Or, paper ballots cast at polling places that have no data tracking, which means you can't detect where they were cast. These are just a few examples of multiple stations throughout our operations that contain these ballots - and each of these ballots are treated with respect and processed with careful attention.

Of course this can be tough in close contests as it can come down to a handful of ballots - but every ballot and every vote must be meticulously accounted for - one-at-a-time.

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Post Election Rundown: 174 observers, 1 million ballots and provisionals

November 16, 2016 - It has been eight days since Election Day and here's the latest on our post election operations:

In recent days we have had up to 174 observers on-site at a single time, observing the post election ballot counting and processing. With two of the closest state legislative races in California we understand why - many processing stations have dozens of observers. As of this evening we have processed over 1 million ballots (nearly 51,000 today) - that number will continue to rise as we finish the last of the vote-by-mail ballots (approximately 25,000). What's remaining are the last ballots that were received as eligible in the three days following November 8th and ballots that need repair, duplication, etc.

As of this evening we have processed nearly 9,000 provisional ballots (with 3,500 of those posted as votes in this evening's update). Provisional processing will continue to climb daily as operators slowly speed up their throughput - this will continue daily (except on Sunday).

We have sorted provisional ballots by cities and districts and we are currently processing the 65th Assembly District and the 29th Senate District. These districts take in a large portion of the north central part of the County (which includes several cities).

You can view a breakdown of our estimates of how many ballots are left to count by visiting our website at ocvote.com.

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

Post Election Rundown: Where does post election ballot counting stand? Here's an update

November 13, 2016 - Signature checking on vote-by-mail ballots that were dropped off at polling places, or mailed on Election Day, will begin to wrap up early this coming week. We have approximately 15,000 left to process in preparation for signature review. There are about 30,000 that have been opened and are being prepared for scanning, and we have scanned an additional 46,000 ballots on Saturday.

There are still a large number of vote-by-mail ballots (that were dropped off on Election Day) that are in the category of damaged (torn), or that need duplication due to extraneous marks or unreadable vote selections. We are targeting Tuesday afternoon to begin processing provisional ballots, but this date may change depending on final preparations for processing provisional ballots (all rosters must be reconciled and vote-by-mail ballots must be processed).

Our next results update will occur at 5 p.m. on Monday and will continue each weekday at 5 p.m.

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Orange County Elections
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Post Election Rundown: A 51 hour journey of a single ballot

November 12, 2016 - It's a bit more complicated than that - stop for a minute and understand what it takes to process a single ballot and it will help to shed some light:

1. Ballot dropped off on Election Day must come together with nearly 200,000 others in a massive sorting operation (so that the ballots are organized, all facing the same direction, in mail trays). Try doing that in an hour (it actually took about 30 hours to complete working overtime).

2. Once this is complete the ballots head to our automated sorting equipment. The ballots pass through this machine at high speed and the record of the ballot is recorded and activated and a digital image is captured of the signature. 

3. These files, in groups of 25,000, take about 90 minutes to create (between sorting and file preparation).

4. The files are distributed to human operators, who then examine signatures on the envelope (four at a time) with the original signature of the voter that is on file. This takes about 2 hours to complete.

5. The ballots are then loaded back into the automated sorting device and begin the same journey as before, through the high-speed sorter, but this time they are sorted by precinct and "outsorted" by good or bad (meaning it will be opened or escalated for further review). This process takes about 2 hours to complete.

6. The good ballots head to our automated extracting machines - we can open these ballots are a rate of about 5,000 - 6,000 per hour. So the group of 25,000 will take about 4 hours to fully open.

7. Once they are opened they head to manual processing stations where they are unfolded, flattened and "married" up to the second page. For the group of 25,000 it takes about 4 hours to complete - it's time consuming because they must be prepared with care for scanning.

8. Following the "flattening" process they move to another station where they are rolled (to take out any curl) and final checks are made for any extraneous marks, paper clips, staples, etc. For the group of 25,000 it takes about 2 hours to pass through this station.

9. Finally they are moved into our scanning operations, where they are scanned at a rate of about 6,000 per hour. If a ballot does not read automatically they are then outsorted for manual resolving - where a human being looks at the contest in question and ensures the ballot is marked correctly.

10. Once they are scanned they move to our Tally operations, where the preparation, downloading of the data, and processing of the actual tally takes about 90 minutes.

So that single ballot went on a 51-hour journey. Of course we are processing ballots in multiple layers, so it moves as efficiently as possible, but you get the idea that we don't just "count" the ballot - there's much more to the process.

And afterall, if that was your ballot, you would want that level of care taken for sure!

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Orange County Elections
Orange County Elections

There's How Many Ballots Left??

November 11, 2016 - Although we have messaged this quite a bit it's worth repeating - Election Day is actually Election Month in California. With a record 19 million voters (the most in the country) California recently extended the time required to certify an election from 28 to 30 days. Why? Because of the volume - compare us with another state, such as Hawaii, and you'll understand the differences. Hawaii has 3 days to certify compared to 30 days in California - the sheer volume of ballots makes all of the difference.

We ended up with 424,397 ballots left to count (compared to half that number in 2012) - with the majority of this coming from Election Day itself. Voters have dramatically changed the way they vote - from weeks before via mail to dropping off their ballot on Election Day. Processing ballots is not just "counting" ballots - it involves multiple steps - all set forth in years worth of laws - that adds time to each ballot. Look for additional info soon on how long it actually takes to process a single ballot.

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