Poll Worker Training Manual

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

Instructions for Chief Inspectors, Deputy Inspectors, and Clerks

Each polling place has a Chief Inspector, at least one Deputy Inspector, and at least two Clerks. This guide explains their duties.

Questions or problems? Call:

  •   Procedures / Supplies: (415) 473-6438 and (415) 473-6439
  •   Ballot Marking Device/Laptop Assistance: (415) 473-7440 or (415) 473-6443

The polls are open for four days: Sat, Oct. 31 through Tues, Nov. 3rd (See your poll worker assignment letter for polling place hours from Sat, Oct. 31st through Mon, Nov. 2nd).

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd.

Thank you for your service! This important effort could not be accomplished without you. We hope you enjoy your experience with the voters and doing your part to serve democracy.

Poll Worker Instructions

Open All Panels

  • After Training Class — Chief's Duties

    You will pick up an orange canvas pouch at training class.  It contains a red wrist band with keys to the ballot boxes, supply cabinet, cell phone and a key to the polling location (if issued).  Important!  Take the orange canvas pouch to the polls every day. 

    • Call your polling place contact immediately (if you haven’t already done so) to make sure you can get into the polling place at least ½ hour prior to opening each day. The contact information for your polling place and best hours to reach your contact were mailed to you with your final appointment notice. Important! Take this person’s contact info with you each day in case you have problems getting into the polling place.
    • Call your team to tell them what time to meet you at the polling place and the hours of operation each of the 4 days.
    • On Friday Oct 30thby 6:00 p.m. (the day before the polling place opens for early voting). Make sure all equipment has been delivered to your polling place. Contact (415) 473-6438 immediately to report missing equipment (list follows):
    • 3 Ballot Marking devices
    • 2 Black ballot boxes
    • Tri-fold sign board
    • Vote here signs
    • Voting booths
    • PPE Kit
    • Supply Cabinet
  • Saturday, Oct. 31 — Before the Polls Open — Chief's Duties
    • Arrive at least 30 minutes before polls open. Allow extra time to set up the voting room following the diagram, below (see Voting Room Set-Up).
    • Turn on your charged county issued cell phone.
    • Have your team assist you to set up voting room so all poll workers can clearly see the ballot box and voting booths. Place the voting booths 6 feet apart.  Plug in 2 voting booths and leave the remaining unplugged if there are not enough outlets in the room.  (See voting room diagram on p. 7)  
    • Use the black rubber tipped key on the red wrist strap to open the inside and outside ballot boxes. Remove all supplies from the ballot boxes and set them aside. Make sure the ballot boxes are completely emptied.
    • Follow the Ballot Marking Device Instructions and set them up for voting.
    • Follow the instructions in the blue binder inside the Polling Place Accessibility Supply bag to set up supplies, and check that our movers installed accessibility equipment (if any) correctly to accommodate voters with physical disabilities.
    • When possible, voting booths, ballot marking devices, and accessibility supplies should remain in place for use the following days.
  • Each Voting Day — Before Polls Open — Chief's Duties
    • Arrive at least 30 minutes before polls open.
    • Turn on your county issued cell phone. (Make sure it’s charged each day.)

    Ask your team for assistance to:

    • Unlock supply cabinet (use key on red wrist strap) and remove supplies:
      • Distribute black canvas case(s) containing the laptop(s) to your Deputies.
      • Give the router (in cardboard box) to one of the Deputies to set up (set-up instructions are inside the box with the router).
      • Keep the supply bag labeled for Chief and give the Deputy(s) and Clerks their supply bags to set up their tables.
      • On Sat. Oct 31 - Count the ballots for each precinct at your poll. Write the total for each precinct on the matching Ballot Statement—Line 1.  You only need to count the ballots at the beginning of the day on the first day of voting.  The following nights, while completing the Ballot Statement(s), transfer the number of unused ballots—Line 2, onto the next day’s Ballot Statement—Line 1 for each precinct.  
      • Place one pad of ballots for each precinct at your polling place on each Clerk’s table: Live Ballot, Provisional Ballot, and CVR Ballot.
      • Remove PPE supplies and COVID-19 Mitigation Protocols for Polling Places. Designate a clerk to set up a PPE station with masks, hand sanitizer, face shields, disinfectant, etc.

    Note:Keep paper rosters in the supply cabinet.  They are for emergency use only.  If there’s a power outage, the routers connecting the laptops to the voter database will not work.  You’ll need to use the Countywide Street Guide (in Deputy supplies) to determine the voter’s precinct and the paper rosters to check if the voter is registered.

    • Place one Ballot Box outside the voting room door. Change the sign in the transparent adhesive pouch on the top of the ballot box to the VBM sign. Station a clerk outside the door to manage voters who are dropping off ballots and to manage the line so that voters are 6 feet apart.  Canopy chair is provided for this clerk.
    • Set up outside the polling place entrance:
      • American flag (the blue field must be on the upper left as you look at the flag)
      • These signs:
        • Covid-19 signage
        • Vote Here (sandwich board)
        • Polling Place100’ signs
        • Voter’s Bill of Rights (English & Spanish) 
        • Polling Place Hours sign
      • Set up inside the entrance to the polling place:
        • Trifold sign board
        • Translated ballot(s)
        • Welcome sign
        • COVID-19 Site Specific Plan
      • Give name tags to all poll workers. Ask any poll worker who speaks Spanish or Vietnamese to write the non-English language spoken in the text of that language under their name on their name tag. Write the alternate languages spoken on the Welcome sign posted near the voting room entrance.
      • Set up a break schedule for you and your team. Use the Break Schedule Guide in your supply bag. We recommend:
        • 1 meal break (1 to 1½) hours, and
        • 2 breaks (15 minutes to ½ hour)
        • Additional breaks may be taken provided all positions are covered.
      • Have each poll worker take the Oath of Allegiance and sign the Oath page for the day. Each poll worker must sign this page to receive their stipend payments. Your Rover will collect these pages daily.
      • Assign each clerk a position to start the day. Rotate positions throughout the day.
  • Each Voting Day — Before Polls Open — Deputy's Duties
    • Arrive at least 30 minutes before polls open. On Saturday, Oct 31, allow extra time to assist Chief with setting up the voting room following the diagram on p. 7.
    • Plug in the router (in cardboard box inside the locked supply cabinet) for internet connection for laptop(s). Instructions are in the box with the router.
    • With another poll worker present, open the lock on the black canvas bag containing the laptop (instructions are on reverse of the ID tag). Remove equipment and Laptop Instructions booklet from the bag.
    • Connect the Dymo label printer to the laptop and plug in the laptop and label printer. Position the Deputy table near an electrical outlet.  If using an extension cord, make sure it’s away from foot traffic.
    • Set up your table with supplies from the Deputy Supply bag (in supply cabinet).
  • Each Voting Day — Before Polls Open — Clerk's Duties
    • Arrive at least 30 minutes before polls open. On Saturday, Oct 31, allow extra time to assist Chief to set up the voting room (following the diagram on p. 7).
    • Set up clerk’s tables with the labeled supply bags (in locked supply cabinet) for:
      • Live Ballot Clerk – container will include a job description card, a table sign, Live Ballot Voter sign-in log pages for voter labels and signatures, ball point pens for voters to sign the log, felt tip pens for voters to mark their ballot, and other office supplies.
      • Provisional Clerk – Container will include a job description card, a table sign, Pink Provisional log pages for voter signatures, ball point pens for voters to sign the log and fill out the provisional envelope, and other office supplies.
      • CVR Clerk – Container will include a job description card, a table sign, Green CVR log pages for voter signatures, ball point pens for voters to sign the log and fill out the CVR envelope, and other office supplies.
    • Set up stations for these clerks:
      • PPE Clerk – This clerk will use the COVID Mitigation Protocol Instructions packed with the PPE supplies in the locked supply cabinet. Supplies include anti-bacterial spray and wipes, gloves, masks, shields, thermometer, measuring tape, trash bags, signs etc. 
      • VBM (and line management) Clerk – This clerk will be outside the polling place with the canopy chair, next to the VBM ballot box. This clerk is responsible for accepting and securing dropped off VBM ballots, helping those in line to maintain 6 foot distancing and controlling the number of people entering the polling place at one time.
      • November 3rd ONLY–VBM Curbside Clerks – Most polling places will have two additional clerks to collect VBM ballots from voters who pull up to the curb in their vehicle to drop off their ballots. They will use blue canvas container (in supply cabinet) and “VBM Ballot Drop off” sign (delivered with polling place equipment).  The blue canvas container must be sealed when it contains ballots.
  • Voting Room Setup

    Use this guide to set up the voting room.  Most sites will have more than one Deputy table.  Place them all close to the voting room entrance (spaced 6’ apart) and near an electrical outlet.  If using extension cords, make sure they are away from foot traffic. 

    COVID-19 Safety Precautions:

    • Position voting booths and poll worker tables at least 6 feet apart. Place a plastic panel (sneeze guard) on each table.  
    • Keep voters moving in one direction. Use a separate exit and entrance if possible.
    • Use chalk outside to mark pavement every 6 feet to form a line for voters. Use blue tape on indoor floors to direct voters and to maintain 6-foot distance from tables. 
    • Open doors and windows to keep room well ventilated when possible.

    Flag Etiquette: Display the flag outside where it’s visible to voters as they approach the polls. The stars of the flag must appear in the upper left corner as voters approach the entrance to the polling place.

  • When Polls are Open — Chief's Duties
    • When the polls are open, announce “The polls are open.”
      On Tuesday, November 3, 2020 polling place must be open at 7 a.m.
    • Show the first voter that the inside ballot box is empty by lifting the top lid of the ballot box. After the voter has confirmed it is empty, lock the lid.  Keep it locked until the polls close.
    • Open the lock covering the ballot drop slot on top of the inside and outside ballot boxes. Keep the inside ballot box drop slot open all day for voters to deposit their voted live ballots through and open the side slot of the inside ballot box for Provisional and CVR ballots.  Keep the outside ballot box drop slot open all day for voters (or poll worker) to put their VBM ballots through.
    • Assist voters to deposit ballots into the inside ballot box.
    • Help voters use the Ballot Marking Device (BMD) as needed.
    • Oversee voter traffic within the room, so voters remain 6ft apart, and will know where to go. Allow a smaller number of voters in the room if needed based on the room size.
    • If the side slot of the inside ballot box begins to fill up. Put Provisional and Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Ballots into Envelope C.  Sign and seal both envelopes and keep them in the Chief’s red bag which is in the supply cabinet
    • Remind the PPE Clerk to wipe down voting booths between voters throughout the day. Wipe down any re-useable supplies and throw out any printed material that voters may have left behind.
    • Explain BMD unit to the Deputies and Clerks so they can cover your breaks
    • Ensure all Clerks understand their duties and the flow of voters, and rotate Clerk positions throughout the
    • You may need to combine Clerk jobs in order to provide breaks. Ensure adequate coverage before clerks leave their positions.
    • Remind PPE Clerk to wipe down surfaces and clean items which have been handled by the voters such as felt tip pens & secrecy sleeves.
    • Ensure adherence to polling place rules. (See Polling Place Rules.)
  • When Polls are Open — Deputy's Duties
    • Use Laptop to process voters (see Laptop instruction booklet for processing steps).
    • Use the Polling Place Street Guide with the precincts listed for your polling place to determine whether to issue voter a Live Ballot. (Voter must not have voted their VBM ballot and must be at the correct polling place.) If voter wants a Live Ballot and is at the wrong polling place, use the Countywide Street Guide to direct voter to the correct polling place.
    • Ensure voters have a clear understanding of Provisional or CVR if they are unable to vote a Live Ballot. If voter
    • Understand the Clerks’ jobs to provide backup if needed.
    • Help the Chief, as needed.
    • Each polling place will have an extra Deputy so that all Deputies are covered for breaks.  If available, Deputies may also cover breaks for the Chief and Clerks.
  • When Polls are Open — Clerk's Duties
    • Help the Chief and Deputy(s), as needed.
    • The Chief will assign each clerk a position to start the day, and rotate positions throughout the day. These are the clerks’ positions:
      • Live Ballot Clerk
      • Provisional Ballot Clerk
      • CVR Ballot Clerk
      • PPE (personal protective equipment) Clerk
      • VBM (Vote-by-Mail) and line management Clerk
      • November 3rd ONLY–VBM Curbside Clerk
    • A description of the clerks’ positions can be found at Before the Polls Open, and at Voter Flow Chart and Poll Worker Duties.
  • Vote-by-Mail (VBM) Ballots Dropped off at Polls

    Follow these steps:

    1. Take the voter’s VBM ballot. It must be in a sealed return envelope.
    2. Make sure the voter signed in the signature box on the back of the envelope.
    3. Put the sealed envelope in the outside VBM ballot box.
    4. Give the voter an “I Voted” sticker.

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

  • Voter Flowchart and Poll Worker Duties

    Outside the Door

    A VBM & Line Clerk (at the outside ballot box) will be outside the polling place entrance next to the outside ballot box to assist voters to deposit VBM ballots into. When voting room is full, this clerk will let the voters in line know when space becomes available and help those in line maintain 6’ physical distancing.

    In the Voting Room


    Voters with physical or vision disabilities may want to use the accessible Ballot Marking Device (BMD).

    Follow these steps:

    • Write precinct number on BMD envelope.
    • Give envelope to voter.
    • Do not give voter a ballot.
    • Explain the BMD to voter.
    • After voting, the BMD unit will print the voter’s ballot. Voter puts the ballot in BMD envelope, seals envelope, and drops it in top slot of ballot box.

    Provisional & CVR voters:

    • Give a provisional or CVR envelope instead of BMD envelope, and direct voter to Chief who will assist them with voting on the BMD.

    Addendum (at the inside ballot box):

    Live Ballots: Voter or Chief (do not look at ballot) puts ballot through top slot of the ballot box.

    Provisional & CVR Envelopes: Voter or Chief puts envelope in the side slot of ballot box. Side 1 of the envelope must be complete and signed or the ballot inside may not be counted.


    • Ask for the voter’s name and address.
    • Look up the name on the laptop to determine what type of ballot to issue the voter.
    • Print the Live Ballot Label OR issue a Provisional Envelope OR a CVR Envelope (write the precinct number and reason for issuing the envelope on side 2).
    • Instruct the voter to take the label or envelope to the corresponding ballot table.

    Live Ballot Clerk

    • Ask for voter’s Live Ballot Label.
    • Find precinct number on label.
    • Affix label to corresponding precinct’s Live Ballot Log.
    • Ask voter to sign on the line next to their name (printed on the label) on the Live Ballot Log.
    • Take one ballot at a time from the matching precinct’s ballot pad.
    • Give ballot to voter with a felt tip pen and a secrecy folder

    Provisional Clerk

    • Ask voter to show you the precinct number written on side 2 of the pink Provisional Envelope.
    • Ask voter to print and sign their name on the corresponding precinct’s pink Provisional Ballot Log.
    • Take one ballot at a time from the matching precinct’s ballot pad.
    • Fold ballot in half and give it to voter with a ball point pen.
    • Tell voter to complete side one of the Provisional Envelope while in the voting booth and place their voted ballot inside the envelope.

    CVR Clerk

    • Ask voter to show you the precinct number written on side 2 of the green CVR Envelope.
    • Ask voter to print and sign their name on the corresponding precinct’s green CVR Ballot Log.
    • Take one ballot at a time from the matching precinct’s ballot pad.
    • Fold ballot in half and give it to voter with a ball point pen.
    • Tell voter to complete side 1 of the CVR Envelope while in the voting booth and place their voted ballot inside the envelope.

    Polling Place Rules

    • Anyone may observe the voting process, including opening and closing the polls. Based on space available, you may need to limit 1 poll watcher at a time. Poll workers must cooperate with poll watchers, unless it interferes with voting or opening/ closing processes.
    • Only one person may go into a voting booth.
      Exceptions: A voter with a disability or a voter who needs language assistance may ask up to two people for help.Voters may take their children with them.
    • If there is a line, voters can have no more than 10 minutes in a voting booth.
    • There must always be at least three poll workers in the polling place.
    • No food or drink on the voting tables.
    • Poll workers must not talk about politics or talk excessively while voters are voting.
    • Newspapers, radios, TVs or campaign literature are not allowed in the polling place.
    • No campaigning or petition signing within 100 feet of the polls.
    • No exit polling within 25 feet of the polls.
    • Use of cell phones / Cameras - To preserve privacy, secrecy, and quiet at the polls, talking on cell phones is prohibited. No photography or videography is allowed inside or out of the polling place.
      • Voters may take photos of their ballot (“ballot selfie”) and share it on social media. Poll workers need to make sure that “ballot selfies” don’t cause any disruptions.
      • Voters may use their smart phones in the voting booth as a voting aid.
      • Credentialed media may take photos or videos at the polls if it doesn’t interfere with voting or compromise voters’ privacy.

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

    1. Wait – Don’t cut off a question; process it first, and 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.
  • Types of Ballots at the Polls
    • Live Ballots – will be counted at the Elections Dept. Voter must be at the correct polling place and the voter has not already voted in this election in order to vote a Live Ballot.
    • Provisional Ballots – are only counted if the voter is registered in Marin County by the 15-day close of registration deadline, and the voter has not already voted in this election. The Elections Dept. researches each Provisional ballot before counting them, and only the contests the voter is eligible to vote for will be counted.
    • Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Ballots – allows county residents to register and vote on Election Day. The Elections Dept. researches each CVR ballot before counting them to determine if the voter is eligible to vote and counts only contests the voter is eligible to vote for.
  • Live Ballots — Who Can Vote a Live Ballot?

    Voter must be listed as Active and not already voted in this election (the laptop will display a message if the voter already returned Vote-by-Mail ballot) and the voter must be at the correct polling place in order to receive the correct precinct ballot.

    How to Issue a Live Ballot


    • Ask for voter’s name and address
    • Look up voter in laptop
    • If voter is at correct polling place and laptop shows the voter has not yet voted the Vote-by-Mail ballot for this election, then issue voter a Live Ballot label. (The voter’s name, address, and precinct number will print onto the label.)
    • Give label to voter
    • Direct voter to Live Ballot Clerk’s table

    Live Ballot Clerk

    • Ask voter for the Live Ballot Label.
    • Affix the label to the matching precinct’s Live Ballot Voter log
    • Ask voter to sign the line on the log next to their name (on label)
    • Give voter the matching precinct ballot, a felt tip pen, and a privacy folder.
    • Direct voter to a voting booth to vote.

    The voter (or Chief) will deposit the ballot in the top slot of the ballot box inside the voting room. (Privacy folders do not go inside the ballot box.)

  • Provisional Ballots — Who Can Vote a Provisional Ballot?
    1. Voter is listed as inactive, OR
    2. Voter returned VBM ballot, OR
    3. Voter is at the wrong polling place, OR
    4. “ID Required” is printed next to voter’s name; but voter does not have ID.

    How to Issue a Provisional Ballot


    • Write voter’s precinct number on side 2 of provisional envelope.
    • Check reason for voting provisionally on side 2 of provisional envelope.
    • Send the voter to the Provisional Ballot Clerk’s table

    Provisional Ballot Clerk

    • Ask the voter to sign pink log of Provisional Voters for the precinct number written on the envelope.
    • Give voter a ball point pen, and the matching precinct ballot folded in half.
    • Direct voter to a voting booth to fill out side-1 of the provisional envelope and vote.
    • Ask voter to detach receipt on the envelope flap with the Election Dept. phone number on it. They may call (in 30 days) to learn the status of their ballot.  

    The voter will return the envelope to the Chief at the ballot box. Make sure it is neatly and completely filled out, signed, and sealed.  The voter (or Chief) will put the sealed envelope in the side slot of the inside ballot box.

  • Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Ballots — Who Can Vote a CVR Ballot?
    1. Voter is not found in the system, OR
    2. Voter registration is pending, OR
    3. Voter registration is cancelled.

    Note: If voter claims to be registered, give voter a green Voter’s Information Card with the Elections Dept. website and phone number printed on it.  Voters can check their registration status or look up their polling place.

    How to Issue a CVR Ballot


    • Write voter’s precinct number on side 2 of CVR envelope.  (Use the Countywide Street Guide to locate voter’s precinct number if voter is not found in the system.)
    • Check reason for voting CVR ballot on side 2 of CVR envelope.
    • Send voter to CVR Ballot Clerk’s table

    CVR Ballot Clerk

    • Ask voter to sign the green log of CVR voters for the precinct # written on envelope.
    • Give voter a ball point pen and the matching precinct ballot folded in half
    • Direct voter to a voting booth to fill out side-1 of CVR envelope and vote.
    • Ask voter to detach receipt on the envelope flap with the Election Dept. phone number on it. They may call (in 30 days) to learn the status of their ballot.

    The voter will return the envelope to the Chief at the ballot box. Important! Side 1 of the CVR envelope is a Voter Registration form. It must be legible and completely filled out in order for the ballot inside the envelope to be counted.  Either the voter or Chief will put the sealed envelope in the side slot of the inside ballot box.

  • Voter Makes a Mistake on a Poll Ballot

    If a voter makes a mistake or spoils a ballot, they should return to the table where the original ballot was issued.   

    1. Write “SPOILED” on back of ballot.
    2. Tear ballot slightly.
    3. Place spoiled ballot in Envelope A (in Chief’s supplies)
    4. Give voter another ballot with the same precinct number (as spoiled ballot).

    If voter spoils the second ballot, ask if you can demonstrate how to vote using a green demonstration ballot (in your supplies). 

    If voter spoils the third ballot, tell them to use a pen to correct the mistake on the ballot.

  • Voters with Physical Disabilities — Ballot Marking Device (BMD)

    Many voters with visual or physical disabilities can use the accessible ballot marking device (BMD).

    The BMD allows voters with disabilities to mark a ballot independently and privately. Any voter who requests to do so may use the BMD.  Remember that not all disabilities are visible.

    The Chief Inspector has the required ballot card to assist voters with the BMD.  Direct voter to the Chief for assistance.

  • 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 Do Not Read or Speak English Well

    If a voter doesn't read or speak English well enough to understand how to vote, give the voter a copy of the translated ballot to take to the voting booth. You can demonstrate how to mark the ballot using the demonstration ballots or give the green telephone card for language assistance.

  • 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.

  • Voters Who Need a Helper

    Voters with disabilities, or voters needing language assistance, may ask up to two people to help them, including a friend, relative, or poll worker. They cannot get help from their boss or a union representative.

    Assistance may include reading aloud or interpreting the ballot language to the voter, or marking the ballot as directed by the voter. 

    Follow these steps:

    1. Ask the voter to declare under oath that they cannot vote without help. Voters unable to sign their name may use a signature stamp or mark an “X”.
    2. If a voter receives assistance marking their ballot, write the voter’s name on the List of Assisted Voters in the Deputies supplies.
    3. Let the voter vote.
  • Voters Who Cannot Get Into the Polling Place — Voting Curbside

    COVID-19 Safety Precautions: Poll workers should wear gloves when taking materials to voters and maintain 6-foot distance whenever possible.

    Follow these steps:

    1. Write voters name and address on a sheet of paper to take into the polling place.
    2. Find the voter’s name in the laptop
    3. Take the ballot, secrecy folder, and pen to the voter along with the Live Ballot Log.
    4. The voter may vote and place the ballot in the secrecy folder.
    5. Insert the voter’s voted ballot through the top slot of the inside ballot box.
    6. Write voter’s name on the List of Assisted Voters in the Deputies Supplies.

    Note: If the voter must vote a CVR ballot or Provisional ballot follow the steps for Provisional, or CVR voting.

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

  • Challenged Voter

    If you think a person does not have the right to vote—

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

    You may challenge a person’s right to vote if:

    1. If you believe the voter is not the person whose name is listed in the system,
    2. Does not live in the precinct,
    3. Is not a U.S. citizen, or
    4. Is on parole because of a felony conviction.

    If this happens, ask the person to take the Oath on the Challenge List (in Deputies supplies).

    If the person answers, “Yes” after taking the Oath, put the voter’s information on the Challenge List, then allow the person to vote using the normal voting process.

    A person who refuses to take the oath must vote a provisional ballot.

  • Poll Watchers

    Anyone may observe the voting process. Most poll watchers work for a political party or candidate.   Here are the rules poll watchers must follow:

    Poll watchers may:

    • Observe voting, including polling place set-up and closing.

    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 tables.
  • Exit Polls

    News organizations or researchers can survey voters outside the polling place. This is called exit polling. However, they cannot:

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

    No one can do any of these things within 100 feet of the voting room 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.

    Poll Worker Tip! Ways to help voters who may be electioneering:

    • Cover logos on shirts or buttons with blue tape (in your supplies).
    • Take the voter 100 feet from the entrance of the poll and follow the procedure for voters who cannot go into the polling place.
  • 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 Department printed on it.

  • Disturbances

    If anyone breaks any of these rules, tell them to stop. If you can’t stop it, call our office immediately. 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
  • Emergency Evacuations

    Follow these steps if there is an emergency at your polling place:

    • If someone’s life may be in danger, call 911.
    • If there is a fire or other situation that makes the polling place dangerous, ask everyone in the polling place to leave.
    • Call the elections office on your cell phone to describe your situation.
    • Do not use elevators, unless police or firefighters tell you to.

    Help people with disabilities, including:

    Vision Problems

    • Ask: “Can I show you how to get out?”
      Do you want to hold onto my arm?”
    • If you are not able to help the person:
      • Find someone who can, or
      • Tell the person how to get out. Use the words “left, right, back, forward.” Say how far the distances are. Remind them not to use the elevator.

    Hearing Problems

    • Get the person’s attention by touch or eye contact.
    • Use hand motions or handwriting to explain what is happening.
    • Point to the safest exit, or show the person how to get out using an evacuation map.

    Mobility Problems

    • Make sure there are uncluttered, open exit routes.
    • If someone is not able to leave, move them to a safer place, such as a stairwell or an office with a closing door. Tell the police or firefighters as soon as you can where this person is.

    If someone is in danger, and there is no safe place for them to wait, get that person out immediately. If possible, try to take the person’s crutches, wheelchairs, or walkers with you.

  • Closing the Polls Nightly — Chief's Duties
    • At the close of the polls say out loud, “The polls are closed.” Also say, “All voters who are in line now will be able to vote.”
      • On Tues Nov 3rd the polls close at 8pm.
    • Each night close & lock the ballot drop slot of the ballot boxes. The outside ballot drop slot must be closed and locked at 8pm on November 3rd.
    • Each night, after the last voter has finished voting complete the Ballot Statement for that day for each precinct and pack the Chief’s Red Bag with the ballots from inside the ballot boxes.
    • Bring in the outside ballot box each night.
    • Remove the ballots from both ballot boxes.          
    • Open Door 1 of the inside ballot box.
      1. Remove the live polling place ballots and BMD Ballots, if any.
      2. If your polling place has multiple precincts, sort and count the live ballots by the precinct number on the ballot.
      3. Write the total of the live ballots on the ballot Statements for each precinct.
      4. Count the BMD envelopes (if any) for each precinct. Write the total on the ballot statement.
      5. Write the number of voted live ballots by precinct number on the seal for voted ballots. Include BMD ballot, if any.
      6. Pack all voted live ballots and anay white BMD envelopes, with voted ballot inside, in the envelope for Voted Live Ballots (Plastic Bag.)
      7. Sign the seal and seal the bag(s)
      8. Place sealed bag(s) in the Chief’s Red Bag (inside locked supply cabinet)
    • Open Door 2 of the inside Ballot Box
      1. Take out, sort and count: Provisional Ballots and Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Ballots & Put them in envelope C. 
        Important: If you emptied Door 2 to fill Envelope C earlier in the day, make sure to add the totals of all Envelope Cs together for each precinct.
      2. Write the total number of Provisional and CVR ballots on the Ballot Statement for each precinct.
      3. Sign the seal, seal Envelope C and put in Chief’s red bag.
    • Spoiled Ballots
      • Sort and Count all spoiled ballots that are in Envelope A. Write that total on each Precincts Ballot Statement. (Do not include the Surrendered VBM ballots) in envelope A
      • Put envelope A in the Red Chief Bag.
    • Unused Ballots
      • Count all unused ballots for each precinct. Write the total of unused ballots on the Ballot Statement for each precinct and transfer that number onto the next day’s Ballot Statement-Line 1 (for each precinct).
        Hint: You can calculate the number of unused ballots in a partially used pad by subtracting the number of the first remaining ballot from number on the final ballot and adding 1.
    • Sign the seal for the unused ballots & seal the container(s)
    • Place the sealed unused ballots in the locked cabinet.
    • Count the signatures on the Live Ballot Voter Logs
      • Write the total of signatures on each precinct’s Live Ballot Voter Logs on the matching Ballot Statement.
      • Place completed Ballot Voter Logs (CVR, Provisional & Live) in Envelope B.

    Complete Ballot Statement — Add Lines 2 through 6. Your Ballot Statement(s) are now completed!  Be accurate in your counting but do not worry if the Ballot Statement does not balance. The Elections Office will recount everything.

    • Sign the Ballot Statements and place them in Envelope B.
    • Place completed Registration forms and Change of Address forms in Envelope B
    • Seal envelope B and pack in Chief’s Red Bag
    • Complete your Closing Guide/Checklist for Chief’s Red Bag and place it in the Chief’s Red Bag to verify that it is completely packed.       
    • After all supplies have been placed in the locked supply cabinet at the end of every evening, lock the cabinet and take the key with you.
    • Take to your Chief’s Red Bag to the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. (Bring someone with you or ask another poll worker to follow you in their vehicle.) 
    • Civic Center staff will exchange your Chief’s Red Bag with another bag for the following day. Be sure to take it to the polls with you for next day’s closing.
  • Closing the Polls Nightly — Deputy's Duties
    • Break down your Laptop & Dymo label printer. Pack the laptop into the matching black case. (The code printed on laptop label should be the same as the code on the ID tag of the black case.) Lock the case using one of the plastic tabs in the outside pocket of the black case, and then place the locked case in the supply cabinet.
    • Place the remaining deputy supplies in the deputy container and place in the supply cabinet.
    • Help bring in outside Ballot Box and count VBM Ballots.
    • Count all VBM ballots.
    • Pack all VBM ballots into the VBM Envelope.
    • If you use more than one envelope write the total number of VBM ballots on the label for each envelope VBM.
    • Sign the seal and seal the VBM envelope(s).
    • Put it in the Chief’s Red Bag.

    The Chief may ask a Clerk or Deputy to help deliver the red bag containing the voted ballots to the Marin County Civic Center using separate cars.

  • Closing the Polls Nightly — Clerk's Duties
    • Put supplies in the correct container and place them in the supply cabinet at the end of every evening.
    • Help bring in outside Ballot Box and count VBM Ballots
    • Help Chief pack Red Supply bag

    Bring in supplies in from outside nightly: polling place signs, VBM Ballot Box, Ballot Call Bell, any accessibility threshold which may block doors from shutting fully.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Closing the Polls — Chief's Duties

    After completing Ballot Statements and emptying ballot boxes, pack canvas bag containing:

    • Red wrist band with keys
    • Polling location keys (if issued) and
    • County issued cell phone

    Place it in the in the Red Chief’s bag and deliver to the Civic Center.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Closing the Polls — Deputy and Clerk's Duties
    • Put everything together inside the polling place in an area near the door for next day pick up by moving company. The movers will pick them up on Nov 4th.
    • Leave these things inside the polling place
      • Ballot boxes (packed with supplies)
      • Voting booths (broken down)
      • 3-Ballot Marking Devices (packed inside cases)
      • Tri-fold sign board
      • Vote Here sign
      • Ballot Call Bell (if one was delivered to your polling place)
    • Leave these things outside the polling place
      • Polling place accessibility equipment (ramps, signs, cones, etc.) if any were delivered.
    • Clean up the polling place. Turn off the lights and lock the door when you leave.
  • Common Poll Worker Questions

    What should I wear?

    • Wear comfortable, casual clothes and shoes.
    • Dress in layers so you can be comfortable all day.
    • Bring a jacket because you may be stationed outside the door.
    • You must also wear a face covering. If you don’t have one, paper masks are in the PPE Kit.
    • Do not wear perfume. Other poll workers or voters may have allergies.

    Can I bring food or drinks?

    • Ask the Chief Inspector if it’s ok with the polling place owner or manager to bring food or drinks.
    • To protect the ballots, do not eat or drink at the poll workers’ tables.

    When will I get paid?

    • If you and all other poll workers sign the Oath & Stipend form each day you can expect checks in about 30 days 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
  • COVID-19 Poll Worker and Polling Place Safety

    Follow these precautionary measures to ensure that polling places are as safe as possible for everyone:

    Stay home if you are sick

    • Stay home if you have any of the following: frequent cough, fever, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and/or recent loss of taste or smell.  You should also stay home if you or someone you live with has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • If you are sick and unable to serve at the polls, contact the Chief at your assigned poll (Chief’s phone number is on your poll worker assignment letter) or call the Elections Dept. at 415-473-6438.

    Personal prevention in the polling place

    • Wear a face covering
    • Keep at least 6 feet apart from other poll workers, voters, and observers.
    • Wear a face shield when you must be closer than 6 feet from someone.
    • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
    • Wear gloves when handling items touched by others.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

    Organize the voting room for health and safety

    • Create a one-way circuit that traffic flows around. When possible, use separate entry and exit doors. 
    • Set up all poll worker stations and voting booths 6 feet apart.
    • Place the plastic shields (sneeze guards) on the poll worker tables.
    • Place the inside ballot box near an exit, ideally a different doorway than the entrance, or on the opposite side of the entrance from the Deputy table(s).

    Physical distancing and visual cues

    • Use the chalk (in PPE supplies) on the pavement outside to show stopping points before the entrance to the voting room so that voters stand 6 feet from each other while they are waiting to enter the room.
    • Use the blue tape (in your supplies) on the floor of the voting room to show stopping points in front of stations and to indicate routes from one area to another, so voters recognize the best path that keeps them away from others. Furniture can also guide voters to best paths (i.e. use a table to block off an area).


    • Fresh air is also helpful in combating the virus, so maximizing ventilation by keeping doors and windows open is a healthy option where possible.

    Cleaning and disinfecting

    • Clerks will be rotated into the PPE Clerk position to keep the commonly used surfaces in the poll routinely clean and sanitized. Commonly used surfaces can include door handles, pens, privacy folders, voting booths, and equipment.  The COVID-19 Mitigation Protocols for Polling Places (packed with the PPE supplies) will provide guidance to the PPE Clerk’s duties.
    • Poll workers will need to monitor cleaning and disinfecting supply inventory and notify the Chief if they foresee running out.

    Handling Voters Safely

    • Clear communication is essential when interacting with voters.
    • Minimize proximity by asking the voter to remain 6 feet away, and only step forwad when procedures require.
    • Offer plastic gloves and hand sanitizer to voters. Make sure hand sanitizer is dry before voter touches ballot.
    • Indicate appropriate paths to voters to direct them and keep them distanced from other voters.
    • If there is a line, remind voters to keep 6 feet apart, and to stand on any floor markings distanced at 6 feet.

    Voters without face coverings

    • Ask if voter has a face covering that they can use.
    • Offer voter a disposable face mask (in PPE supplies).
    • If voter does not want to comply with the face covering requirement, call for the Chief’s assistance. The Chief will ask the voter to follow the guidelines on face coverings and distancing to protect the voter and everyone else in the room. 
    • If voter refuses to comply, reassure voter that they’ll be allowed to vote and call for the Chief’s assistance. The Chief will follow the procedure for curbside voting or if further action is needed, call the Elections Department for assistance. You can also give the voter a green telephone card with the Elections Dept. phone number printed on it for voter to call.

    Election Observers

    • Notify the Chief when there’s an observer to assist.
    • Allow space for observers to look at the poll worker process, tables and equipment, while allotting for 6 feet of physical distancing.
    • Minimize interaction between observers and others in the voting room.
    • Inform observers that they must observe all health guidelines while inside the polling place.