County of Marin - News Releases - Election Canvass

For Immediate Release
June 08, 2022

Official Election Canvass -- Counting Votes Takes Time

Counties have 28 days to make sure all votes are tallied

The following is a joint message from the registrars in 11 Bay Area counties, including Marin County.

After Election Day, it takes time for county elections officials to count all the votes and make sure that all the votes have been counted. Counties have 28 days to complete the official canvass of an election. There are many steps that must be completed, and in its essence, the purpose of the canvass accomplishes these critical tasks:

  • To ensure that every eligible ballot is counted
  • To ensure that voters only voted once
  • To ensure proper procedures were followed on Election Day
  • To ensure the vote tabulation system is properly counting ballots

Processing vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots takes quite a bit of time. Several steps occur, such as signature verification and preparing them for counting, along with strict chain of custody and ballot accounting procedures. Recent legislation allows for VBM ballots to be postmarked on or before Election Day and received within seven days of the election. All of that preparation and process takes time.

During the course of the canvass, voters are given credit (voting history) for having voted by mail or in person. As voters are given voting credit, the number of voters is reconciled to the number of ballots cast for each voting location. This is a critical step in ensuring that all ballots are accounted for from each voting location.

In the rare instance that indicates a voter may have voted twice, it is investigated. In cases that truly indicate a voter may have tried to vote twice and with intent to defraud, they are reported to the local District Attorney’s Office and the Secretary of State Fraud Division for investigation and possible prosecution.

During the canvass, counties are required to perform audits of the ballot counting system, by performing what's called a One Percent Manual Tally. It involves randomly selecting 1% of the precincts of ballots cast in person, as well as VBM ballots, then performing a manual hand count of each set of ballots and comparing them to the machine count results.

“The official canvass is a long-standing, multi-step, and continually evaluated process that elections offices use to ensure all eligible ballots have been received and processed, that there is one vote per voter, and that all votes have been counted correctly,” said John Tuteur, Napa County Registrar of Voters.

As with all activities related to an election, the canvass activities are open to the public for observation.  Please contact your county elections office for more details on how to observe election activities. Information on this topic as well as direct links to local elections offices can be found on our website,, or its Facebook page.

A more detailed article and fact sheet on the canvass can be found on the coalition webpage, under “Just the Facts.”


Lynda Roberts
Registrar of Voters
Elections Department

Marin Civic Center Administration Building
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 121
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6401
Email: Lynda Roberts
Elections website