"What To Do If" Manual

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

What To Do If ...

Election Day Situations at the Polls

Index

Poll Worker Does Not Arrive On Time

A poll worker does not arrive on time (§12313)

Even if a poll worker does not arrive at the polls on time, you must still:

  1. Open the polls at 7 a.m., and
  2. Try to find a substitute. Ask a voter who is waiting in line to work.
    Remember: The substitute poll worker must sign the Oath & Stipend form in the Roster.
  3. Call us if you find a substitute or need help finding one: 415-473-6438 or 415-473-6439.

If you cannot get into the polling place at 7:00 a.m., call us right away: 415-473-6439.
Then start the voting outside with the ballots and the Roster.

Voter not on Roster

Can not find voter’s name in Roster

  1. Politely ask voter how to spell his/her name. If necessary, provide paper and pen for a voter to write down the name, or accept a voter’s offer to show his or her name in print on an identification card or other document.
  2. If unable to locate voter’s name on Roster, check the supplemental page(s) of the Roster.

Voter on Supplemental List

A voter’s name is on the Supplemental List

Voters who registered or updated their registration after the deadline will be on the Supplemental List. (These pages are mailed to the Deputy Inspector before the election, who then staples them to the blank page in the Roster.) These voters are allowed to vote.

Follow these steps:

  1. Ask voter to sign next to his/her name on the Supplemental List.
  2. Allow the voter to vote, using the normal voting process.

Note: If the voter’s name is not in the Voter Roster Pages or Supplemental Pages, s/he may be at the wrong precinct, or polling place, or may not be registered to vote. (See Provisional Ballots.)

Roster says “ID Required”

Roster says “ID Required”

Some voters have the words “ID Required” printed next to their name in the Roster. These are new voters who registered to vote by mail and did not list the required ID on their voter registration form, and are voting in their first federal election in Marin County.

Follow these steps:

  1. Ask the voter for ID or a document with their name printed on it.
    You can accept their:
    • Drivers license or DMV ID card
    • Other photo ID card, or
    • Other documents, with the voter’s name and address, which are dated since the date of the last general election, such as a current utility bill, bank statement, Medi-Cal card, paycheck, or government document.
  2. Write the voter’s ID in the Remarks column next to the voter’s name on the Roster:
    • For CA driver’s license or ID card, write the license or ID number.
    • For other documents, describe the document (bank statement, Medi-Cal card, etc.)
  3. Allow the voter to vote, using the normal voting process.

Note: If voter does not show ID, s/he can vote a provisional ballot. (See Provisional Ballots.)

Challenging a Voter's Right to Vote

You think a person does not have the right to vote (§14240-14253)

If a challenge occurs, call the Elections Office for assistance at 415-473-6439.


Only poll workers can challenge a voter. If anyone else asks a poll worker to challenge a voter (with a written request, by email, phone, or in-person), call the Elections Office immediately: 415-473-6439


You may challenge a person’s right to vote if you believe the voter:

  1. Has already voted,
  2. Is not the person whose name is on the Roster,
  3. Does not live in the precinct,
  4. Is not a U.S. citizen, or
  5. Is on parole because of a felony conviction.

If this happens, ask the person to take the Oath on the Challenge List on the inside front cover of the Roster. If the person answers, “Yes,”

  • Put the voter’s information on the Challenge List, then
  • Allow the person to vote using the normal voting process.

If the person refuses to take the oath, s/he must vote a provisional ballot.

Voter Drops Off Voted Vote-by-Mail Ballot

Voter drops off a Vote-by-Mail ballots

  • Anyone can return another voter or voters’ Vote-by-Mail ballot(s).
  • You may accept a Vote-by-Mail ballot from any California county at your polling place. The Elections Office will forward it to the correct county to be counted.

Follow these steps:

  1. Take the voter’s Vote-by-Mail ballot. (It must be inside a sealed return envelope.)
  2. Make sure the voter signed in the signature box on the back of the return envelope
  3. Put the sealed return envelope the side slot of the ballot box.

Voters who do not have their return envelope and Vote-by-Mail ballot, must vote a provisional ballot. (See Provisional Ballots.)


Voters not assigned a polling place

  • Some voters are not assigned to a polling place because they reside in a Mail Ballot Precinct.
  • Mail Ballot Precincts are precincts with a small number of registered voters that have a unique combination of districts. Voters in Mail Ballot Precincts are required to receive their ballot by mail.
  • Voters from Mail Ballot Precincts may come into your polling place. Encourage these voters to vote their mail ballot if they have it because it will contain all of the races for their precinct, but they can always vote provisionally if they choose.
  • A ballot from a Mail Ballot Precinct has “MAIL PCT” printed under the precinct number at the top left corner of the ballot. The return envelope is the same as a Vote-by-Mail envelope.
  • If they are dropping off their completed mail ballot, treat it just like a regular Vote-by-Mail ballot.
  • If the voter has questions, ask him/her to call the Elections Office: 415-473-6456.

Vote-by-Mail Voter Wants to Vote at Polls

Vote-by-Mail (VBM) voter who wants to vote at the polls

A) Voter has VBM ballot and envelope to surrender (§3015)

If a voter is listed in your Roster with “Vote by Mail” next to his/her name, and s/he wants to vote a regular ballot, follow these steps:

  1. Ask for his/her Vote-by-Mail ballot, and return envelope.
  2. Write “Surrendered” on the envelope and tear part way through it to make sure a ballot is inside.
  3. Put the envelope with ballot inside in Envelope A.
  4. Mark “X” in the box next to voter’s name in the Roster.
  5. Line through “Vote-by-Mail” next to the voter’s name in the Roster, and write “Surrendered” in the Remarks column.
  6. Ask the voter to sign next to his/her name in the Signature column of the Roster.
  7. Cross out a tally number on the tally sheets.
  8. Give the voter a regular ballot.

B) Voter does NOT have VBM ballot & envelope to surrender

If a voter does not have his/her return envelope and Vote-by-Mail ballot, s/he must vote a provisional ballot. (See Provisional Ballots.)

If voter returns a ballot or envelope but not both, write either: “VBM ballot returned without envelope” on the ballot, or “Envelope returned without VBM ballot” on the envelope. Then place in Envelope A.

To correct an error if a Vote-by-Mail voter signs in the Roster but does NOT surrender his/her Vote-by-Mail ballot and return envelope:

  • Line through “Vote-by-Mail” next to the voter’s name in the Roster, and write “Provisional” in the Remarks column.
  • Ask voter to sign the pink Log of Provisional Voters in the Roster.
  • Follow the instructions for a provisional voter. (See Provisional Ballots.)

Poll Watchers at the Polling Place

Poll watchers at the polling place

Anyone may observe the voting process. Most poll watchers work for a political party or candidate. They watch the polls to see who has not voted yet so they can call those people and encourage them to vote.

Poll workers cooperate with poll watchers, unless it interferes with the voting, opening, or closing processes.

Here are the rules poll watchers must follow:

Poll watchers may:

  • Observe voting, including polling place set-up and closing, and
  • See the Roster, unless it is being used.

Poll watchers must not:

  • Be near the voting booths or the ballot box.
  • Touch voted or unvoted ballots.
  • Disturb the poll workers or interfere with their duties.
  • Sit at the poll worker table.
  • Take the Street Index out of the immediate area.
  • Write anything on the Roster.

Voter Complaints

Voter Complaints

Give voter a green Voter Information Card to call the Elections Office. This card has the website and phone number of the Elections office printed on it.


Important! It’s important to follow poll worker procedures from the training class and from the written materials. Keep in mind that voters may contest an election based on alleged misconduct by a poll worker, which includes:

  • Discriminating against voters based on race, ethnicity, party affiliation, literacy, or disability;
  • Denying an eligible voter the right to cast a ballot;
  • Intentionally misinforming voters of voting status; and
  • Coercing or intimidating voters.

Poll workers will be asked to leave and/or not be asked to work in future elections if they take any actions that threaten the voting process or infringe on the rights of voters.

Voter Changed Address or Name

A voter changed address or changed his/her name (§2035 & §14311)

Voter Changed Address

A voter registered in Marin County may vote at their old or new polling place, depending upon when he/she moved within the county.

Condition Procedures
Voter moved AFTER the deadline and goes to OLD polling place. Voter’s name will be on Roster. The voter can vote a regular ballot.
  • Ask the voter to sign the Roster with his/her old address.
  • Give voter a registration form to update address.
Voter moved AFTER the deadline and goes to NEW Polling Place. Voter’s name will not be on Roster. The voter can vote a provisional ballot at the new polling place or at the Elections Office.
Voter moved within the SAME precinct BEFORE the deadline and goes to OLD polling place. Voter’s name will be on Roster. The voter can vote a regular ballot.
  • Ask the voter to sign the Roster with his/her old address.
  • Give voter a registration form to update address
Voter moved to a different precinct BEFORE the deadline, did not re-register and goes to NEW polling place. Voter’s name will not be on Roster. The voter can vote a provisional ballot at the new polling place or at the Elections Office.

Voter Changed Name

Condition Procedures
Voter changed name because of marriage, divorce or other court order and name has not been changed in Roster. This voter can vote. Follow these steps:
  • Ask the voter to sign the Roster with his/her old name.
  • Ask the voter to put the new name in parentheses after the signature.
  • Give the voter a voter registration form to update the name.
  • Precinct officer prints the name change information on the Notes page of the Roster. See Section F – Common Situations, in Poll Worker Instructions booklet.

Voter Makes Mistake

Voter makes a mistake

If a voter makes a mistake or spoils his/her ballot,

  1. Write “SPOILED” on the back of the ballot, then put it in Envelope A.
  2. Give the voter another ballot.

If the voter spoils the second ballot, ask if you to can demonstrate how to vote.

If the voter spoils the third ballot, tell the voter to:

  1. Use a pen to correct the mistake on the ballot, then
  2. Drop the ballot in the side slot of the ballot box.


Three Communication Tools for Poll Workers: Wait. Recognize. Listen.

  1. Wait – Don’t cut off a question; process it first, then respond reasonably and respectfully.
  2. Recognize – Be aware of people’s feelings and needs and accommodate them with courtesy.
  3. Listen – Listen before speaking to fully understand what the voter needs. Put assumptions aside.

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

Sometimes news organizations and researchers do surveys with voters outside of the polling place. This is called exit polling. They are allowed to do this, but they must not:

  • Be near to the voting booths.
  • Take photos of voters without their permission.
  • Talk to voters within 25 feet of the polling place.


Three Communication Tools for Poll Workers: Wait. Recognize. Listen.

  1. Wait – Don’t cut off a question; process it first, then respond reasonably and respectfully.
  2. Recognize – Be aware of people’s feelings and needs and accommodate them with courtesy.
  3. Listen – Listen before speaking to fully understand what the voter needs. Put assumptions aside.

Campaigning

Campaigning (§18370)

No one can do any of these things within 100 feet of the poll entrance:

  • Pass around petitions.
  • Try to influence how a voter votes.
  • Put up signs about voter qualifications.
  • Talk to voters about their eligibility to vote.
  • Photograph, film, or record a voter going into or leaving polling place.
  • Display a candidate’s name, likeness, or logo.
  • Display a ballot measure’s number, title, subject, or logo.
  • Display buttons, hats, pencils, pens, shirts, signs, or stickers containing campaign information.

If anyone breaks any of these rules, tell them to stop. If you can’t stop it, call our office immediately: 415-473-6439



Three Communication Tools for Poll Workers: Wait. Recognize. Listen.

  1. Wait – Don’t cut off a question; process it first, then respond reasonably and respectfully.
  2. Recognize – Be aware of people’s feelings and needs and accommodate them with courtesy.
  3. Listen – Listen before speaking to fully understand what the voter needs. Put assumptions aside.

Disturbances

Disturbances

If anyone is disruptive, abusive, or threatens an orderly election, or your safety:

  • Call the local police: 911, then
  • Call the Elections office: 415-473-6439


Three Communication Tools for Poll Workers: Wait. Recognize. Listen.

  1. Wait – Don’t cut off a question; process it first, then respond reasonably and respectfully.
  2. Recognize – Be aware of people’s feelings and needs and accommodate them with courtesy.
  3. Listen – Listen before speaking to fully understand what the voter needs. Put assumptions aside.

Voters with Disabilities

Voters with Disabilities

Voters with Disabilities

Many voters with visual or physical disabilities can use the Automark Accessible Marking Device.

This device allows voters with disabilities to mark their ballots independently and privately. Allow any voter who wants to use the Automark to do so. Remember that not all disabilities are visible.

Voters who need a helper

Voters with disabilities, or voters needing language assistance, may ask up to 2 people to help them, including a friend, relative, or poll worker. They may not get help from an employer or a union representative.

Follow these steps:

  1. Ask the voter to declare under oath that s/he cannot vote without help.
  2. Write the voter’s name on the List of Assisted Voters on the inside back cover of the Roster.
  3. Ask the voter to sign or make a mark next to his/her name on the Roster. Voters unable to write may use a signature stamp on the Roster or the Provisional envelope.
  4. Let the voter vote.

Voters with special needs

Each poll has these devices to help voters who may need them:

  • Magnifying cards, and
  • Pens with grips that are easier to hold

Voters who cannot go into the polling place

Voters who cannot get into the polling place may vote curbside.

Follow these steps:

  1. Find the voter’s name in the Roster,
    • Take the Roster, an official ballot, secrecy folder, and pen to the voter, and
    • Have the voter sign the Roster.
  2. The voter may vote and place the ballot in the secrecy folder.
  3. Put the voter’s voted ballot through the Accuvote scanner.
  4. If the voter’s name is not in the Roster, let the voter vote provisionally.
  5. Write voter’s name on the List of Assisted Voters on the inside back cover of the Roster.

Remember: Treat voters with disabilities like you would any other voter. Be sure to protect the privacy of their ballot.

Voters speaks another language

Voters who speak another language

Voters who do not read or speak English well

If a voter doesn’t read or speak English well enough to understand how to vote, show the voter the instructions with illustrations in the voting booth. Also demonstrate how to mark the ballot using the demonstration ballots.

Make a note on the Polling Place Problem / Feedback Report page that this precinct may need bilingual poll workers for the next election.

Cultural Sensitivity

You may encounter people from various cultures or people with different lifestyles at your polling place. Please respect all differences and treat all voters with courtesy and helpfulness.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional Ballots

The Provisional Ballot ensures that everyone is allowed to vote on Election Day at the polls. Anyone can vote a provisional ballot, however; in order for it to be counted, the voter must be registered in the county in which s/he is voting by the registration deadline (15 days before Election Day), and only the contest(s) the voter is eligible to vote for will be counted.

Reasons to Vote a Provisional Ballot

  1. “Vote-by-Mail” is printed next to voter’s name in Roster, but s/he can not surrender Vote-by-Mail ballot AND envelope.
  2. Name not in Roster, but voter claims to be registered.
    Important! Before giving a provisional ballot to a voter who’s name is not in Roster, offer him/her a green Voter’s Information Card with the Elections Office website and phone number printed on it to check his/her registration status, or look up voter’s assigned polling place.
    (You can also use the Countywide Street Guide to find a voter’s polling place.)
  3. “ID Required” is printed next to voter’s name in Roster; but voter does not have ID.

If Voter Wants to Vote a Provisional Ballot:

  1. Ask voter to sign pink Log of Provisional Voters in the Roster. The voter must not sign any other part of the Roster.
  2. Fill out side 2 of provisional ballot envelope.
    • Write precinct number of ballot issued.
    • Write political party of ballot issued (for presidential elections with party ballots only).
    • Check reason for issuing provisional ballot.
  3. Give the voter a ball point pen, a provisional envelope, and a folded ballot.
    • Do not give the voter a secrecy folder.
    • Do not cross out a tally number on the tally sheets.
  4. Direct the voter to a voting booth to fill out side 1 of the provisional envelope and vote.
  5. Either the voter or a poll worker puts the provisional envelope (with ballot sealed inside) in the side slot of the ballot box.
  6. The voter keeps the stub of the provisional envelope with the Elections Office website and phone number printed on it for voter to find out if his/her ballot was counted.

Conditional Voter Registration

Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Provisional Ballots

The Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Provisional Ballot eis an alternative to the provisional ballot. This voting method allows county residents to register and vote on Election Day at the Elections Office only. At the Elections Office, the voter can register to vote, and then vote a CVR provisional ballot. Once the voter’s eligibility is verified, his/her votes will be counted.

Reasons to Vote a CVR Provisional Ballot

  1. Voter is not registered to vote in Marin County.
  2. Voter wants to vote a party ballot that is NOT the one listed in Roster (for Presidential Primary elections with party ballots only).
  3. Voter does not want to vote a provisional ballot at the polls.

If Voter Wants to Vote a CVR Provisional Ballot:

  1. Offer voter a green Voter’s Information Card with the Elections Office website and phone number printed on it to check his/her registration status before directing voter to the Elections Office.
  2. Tell voter to go to the Elections Office at: 3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 121, San Rafael; from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Common Poll Worker Questions

Common Poll Worker Questions

What should I wear?

Wear comfortable, casual clothes and shoes. Dress in layers so you can be comfortable all day.

Do not wear perfume. Other poll workers or voters may have allergies.

Do I get breaks?

Yes. The Deputy Inspector will schedule all poll worker breaks.

You can take:

  • 1 meal break (1-1½ hours)
  • 2 short breaks (15 - 30 minutes each)

No breaks after 5 p.m., which is the busiest time at the polls.

Can I bring food or drinks?

Ask the polling place owner or manager if it’s okay to bring food or drinks.

To protect the Rosters and ballots, do not eat or drink at the poll workers’ table.

When will I get paid?

If you and all other poll workers sign the Oath & Stipend form on Election Day, we will mail checks about 2 weeks after Election Day.

Important! If any poll worker has not signed the Oath & Stipend form, we cannot pay anyone until we get that person’s signature.

Can I get more training?

Yes. There are several ways to get more poll worker training. You can:

  • Take another training class (we offer them several times the week before the election),
  • Read the job cards at the polls, which describe poll workers duties, and
  • Watch the training videos or read the Poll Worker Instructions on our website.

How do I vote if the poll I am working at is not my voting place?

Ask for a Vote-by-Mail ballot. You can turn your ballot in at the polling place where you work on Election Day.

To get a Vote-by-Mail ballot:

  • Complete a Vote-By-Mail Application on our website,
  • Use the application on the back of your Voter Information Pamphlet, or
  • Go to the Elections Office

Do you want poll workers to give feedback?

Yes! We want to hear about your experience as a poll worker.

On Election Day:

  • Write your comments on the Polling Place and Supplies Feedback page in the Roster.
  • For emergencies or problems, you can use the Chief Inspector’s cell phone to call us.

After the election:

  • Call the Elections Office at: 415-473-6439
  • Write to us at:
    Marin County Elections Department
    3501 Civic Center Drive
    San Rafael, CA 94903
  • Email: Colleen Ksanda