Outline of Canvass Procedures

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections


After every election, the Registrar of Voters conducts the canvass to ensure that every eligible ballot is counted accurately. For consolidated elections, the time allowed to complete the canvass is twenty-eight (28) days after the election.

In Marin County, the canvass begins on the day after the election and continues during working hours until it is completed. Any member of the public may observe the canvass.

The Elections Department must follow many state mandates during this official canvass period before the election results can be certified. Following is a summary of the main tasks of the canvass process (EC15003).

Summary of Required Tasks of Canvass

Following is a summary of the main tasks of the canvass with procedures and elections code references for each task. The tasks are listed in the order in which they occur, although several tasks can take place concurrently.

Account for, Process, and Count Vote-by-Mail Ballots Returned at Polls

  • Log in VBM ballots returned at polls.
  • Compare signatures on vote-by-mail ballots.
  • Process and count vote-by-mail ballots (15302(e),15304,15320-21).

Account for, Process, and Count Provisional Ballots

  • Log in provisional ballots returned from the polls.
  • Research each provisional ballot to determine whether the voter is eligible to cast a ballot in the election and did not vote more than once (EC 14310(c)(1- 3),15302(e),15304,15350).
  • Duplicate provisional ballots voted out of precinct according to EC Sec. 14310(c)(3)(AB).
  • Process and count validated provisional ballots by precinct. (SOS Uniform Vote Count Standards.)

Reconcile VBM Ballots and Precinct Ballots and Rosters

Reconcile precinct ballots and rosters to make sure ballots issued and voters who voted balance.

  • Reconcile signatures on roster to number of voted ballots (EC15302(b)) and reconcile number of ballots issued to polls with number counted, spoiled, unvoted, and provisional ballots (EC14405(a), 15302(c)).
  • Reconcile the number of vote-by-mail ballots returned with the number of mail ballots counted (15302(d)).
  • Reconcile the number of unvoted mail ballots to number ordered and used (15302(c). (EIMS report AVMR166.)

Account for voters who voted

  • Scan the Rosters and produce the "who voted" report (EC 15111,15278).
  • Determine whether any voter voted more than one time (EC15778).

Duplicate or Enhance Damaged Ballots — Prepare for Counting

  • Duplicate or enhance ballots that the machines won’t scan due to tears, spills, and other damage (EC15302(9).

Count Write-in votes

  • Hand-count write-in votes for qualified write-in candidates (EC15302(f)-15340-42).
  • Include report of write-in count with Certification of Election.

Conduct One Percent Manual Tally

  • Hand-tally both precinct and vote-by-mail ballots from 1% of the precincts and match the results with the machine results for the selected precincts. Account for any variances (EC15360).
  • Prepare report of results of manual tally and send to Secretary of State with certification of election (15360(e)).

Report Results

  • Post election night results and updates on front door of office (EC15371).
  • Prepare agenda request form and board letter requesting Board of Supervisors to accept results of canvass (EC15372, 15400).
  • Report certified results to Secretary of State (EC15375).
  • Prepare Oaths of Office and Certificates of Election for winning candidates (EC15401).

Store Election Materials for Time Period Required by Law.

Retention schedule.

References: CA Elections Code, Secretary of State (Uniform Vote Count Standards)

Rev. 10/9/2012