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ELECTION OBSERVER PANEL PLAN

November 3, 2020 General Election

Registrar of Voters: Joseph E. Holland, County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor

Observer Contact:    Renee Bischof, Chief Deputy Registrar of Voters

                                    Telephone number (805) 696-8963               

Voting System:          Dominion Voting Systems, Democracy Suite 5.10.A

Objective: To conduct transparent elections by providing a program that allows representatives from State Political Parties, County Party Central Committees/County Councils, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, campaigns and the public to observe pre-election, election-day, and post-election activities.

Observer Panel Important Links

Election Observer Invitation

List of Polling Places by Area

CCROV 20244 - Elections Observations Rights and Responsibilities

Observer Panel Key Dates

Vote By Mail Processing         Begins October 5, 2020

Tabulation of Ballots               May begin as early as October 5, 2020

In-Person Poll Early Voting    October 31, 2020 through November 2, 2020

Election Day                           November 3, 2020

Canvass                                 Begins November 5, 2020 

General Information

  1. The Elections Division of the Santa Barbara County Clerk, Recorder, and Assessor Department requests for participating organizations to designate a representative to observe specific processes during the election period.
  2. Organizations are responsible for assignment, conduct, and activity of their representatives.
  3. Each organization is to provide the observer contact with the name of their designated representative(s) participating in the Observer Panel Program along with the process(es) they will be assigned to observe.
  4. The Elections Division provides a 'Schedule of Events', overview of election operations in Santa Barbara County, a list of polling place locations, ballot processing location, and observer rules.
  5. The Election Division request observers contact our office to schedule an appointment to observe to ensure that the operation they want to observe will be occurring. This will also assist the division in ensuring that the number of observers present will not exceed the capacity limits for the space in which the operation is occurring.
  6. Cameras, phones, and electronic recording devices of any kind are not allowed.
  7. No bags, backpacks or large purses will be allowed.
  8. We suggest observers bring a notepad and red pen.  If you do not have a red pen, our office will provide a sanitized red pen.

COVID-19 Protocols

All observers participating will be required to adhere to all COVID-19 public safety guidelines as established by the Department of Public Health to help control and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

All election observers shall:

  1. Conduct daily self-screenings at home prior to departing to their observation location. During the screening they should ensure they are not experiencing the following COVID-19 systems:
    • Frequent cough
    • Fever
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Muscle Pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Recent loss of taste or smell
    Election observers should stay home if they are experiencing any of the above symptoms. In addition, the observer should stay home if they:
    • Feel sick
    • Have tested positive for COVID-19
    • Live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  2. While observing election processes in Santa Barbara County, observers will adhere to the following health and safety protocols:
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand -sanitizer that is at least 60% ethyl alcohol.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
    • Avoid shaking hands.
    • Wear face coverings. Face coverings shall:
      • Fully cover the nose and mouth and be secure under the chin
      • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
      • Be kept clean
      • Maintain physical distancing of six feet.  
  3. Observers may be asked to observe from a designated area or view activities on camera to ensure health and safety guidelines are being met.
  4. When observing tabulation processes, observers will be asked to either wash their hands or use hand sanitizer and must put on gloves before entering the room.

Areas available for observation

Vote by Mail Ballot Processing

4440-A Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Parking:  Please park at the Public Health Parking Lot on Camino Del Remedio.  Handicap Parking available in lot in front of office.

  1. Observers are requested to make an appointment by contacting our office. 
  2. Observers must check-in at the lobby of the County Elections Office to receive a badge, observer rules and a Question/Comment form. 
  3. A designated elections representative will escort observers and describe processes or procedures. Any questions concerning procedures must be directed to the designated election representative.  If the designated representative is not available for questions, questions shall be submitted on the Question/Comment form provided and will be  responded to by email or by phone.

Ballot Tabulation

4440-A Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Parking:  Please park at the Public Health Parking Lot on Camino Del Remedio.  Handicap Parking available in lot in front of office.

  1. Observers are requested to make an appointment by contacting our office. 
  2. Observers must check-in at the lobby of the County Elections Office to receive a badge, observer rules and a Question/Comment form.
  3. Only three observers at a time will be allowed in the tabulation room and must stay in areas marked by blue painter's tape.
  4. Observers will be required to sanitize their hands prior to entering the tabulation room and wear gloves.
  5. A designated elections representative will escort observers and describe processes or procedures. Any questions concerning procedures must be directed to the designated election representative.  If the designated representative is not available for questions, questions shall be submitted on the Question/Comment form provided and will be responded to by email or by phone.

Election Night Central Tally & Ballot Processing

4440-A Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Overflow Parking:  Please park at the Social Services Parking Lot on 234 Camino Del Remedio.  Handicap Parking available in lot in front of office.

  1. All observers must report to the observer check-in location in the lobby of the County Elections Office by 7:30 p.m.
  2. Observers must check-in at the lobby of the County Elections Office to receive a badge, observer rules and a Question/Comment form.
  3. Only three observers at a time will be allowed in the tabulation room and must stay in areas marked by blue painter's tape.
  4. Observers will be required to sanitize their hands prior to entering the tabulation room and wear gloves.
  5. A designated elections representative will escort observers and describe processes or procedures. Any questions concerning procedures must be directed to the designated election representative.
  6. After the initial results are released at approximately 8:05 and observers have been described the processes to occur in each area, the observers will be escorted to the upstairs meeting area where they will be able to observe via camera the processing areas.

Polling Place Observation

See the List of Polling Places for locations.

    Polling Places

Polling Places will be open during the following dates and times:

10/31    9am-5pm

11/1      9am-5pm

11/2      9am-6pm

11/3      7am-8pm

Observers wishing to observe the processes at a polling place though not necessary, are requested to contact our office to obtain proper credentialing to be provided to the Lead at the polling place location.

  1.  Election observers must check-in with the Lead in charge and show them a copy of the letter provided by the County Elections Office.
  2.  Any questions concerning procedures at the polling place should be directed to the Lead in charge to help limit disruption to the voter processing. Any concerns regarding the operation or procedures at a polling place should be directed to the county elections official and not the Lead.

Canvass Processing

4440-A Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Some process may be done at an alternative location which will be posted in advance.

Observers are requested to make an appointment by contacting our office. 

  1. Observers must check-in at the lobby of the County Elections Office to receive a badge, observer rules and a Question/Comment form.
  2. Only three observers at a time will be allowed in the tabulation room and must stay in areas marked by blue painter's tape.
  3. Observers will be required to sanitize their hands prior to entering the tabulation room and wear gloves.
  4. A designated elections representative will escort observers and describe processes or procedures. Any questions concerning procedures must be directed to the designated election representative.  If the designated representative is not available for questions, questions shall be submitted on the Question/Comment form provided and will be responded to by email or by phone.

OPERATIONAL LOCATIONS

GENERAL ELECTION - NOVEMBER  3, 2020


OFFICE LOCATIONS AND HOURS OF OPERATION

Main Office:  4440-A Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm, excluding holidays

 

Lompoc Branch:  401 E. Cypress Ave, Room 102 Lompoc, CA 93436

Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm, excluding holidays (closed Noon – 1:00 pm for lunch)

Beginning 10/22 the Lompoc Branch will relocate to the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building at 100 E. Locust Ave.

 

Santa Maria Branch: 511 E. Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria, CA 93455

Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm, excluding holidays (closed Noon – 1:00 pm for lunch)

   

POLL OPERATIONS

POLLING PLACE LOCATIONS

Please refer to the lists of polling locations by area by clicking HERE.


ELECTION NIGHT OPERATIONS

CENTRAL TALLY LOCATION

Main Office:  4440-A Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Observer Sign-In – Arrive no later than 7:30 pm

WAREHOUSE LOCATION

CRA Archive/Elections Warehouse - 4417 Calle Real, Santa Barbara  

ELECTION OBSERVER RULES FOR OBSERVATION AT THE COUNTY ELECTIONS OFFICE

Prior to the election observers will receive a copy of the rules for election observers along with a schedule of events. Ballot security and staff and observer safety are our primary concerns and all person(s) who view this process must agree to follow the rules outlined below:

  1. Observers are responsible for:
    • Reporting to the Elections Office and signing an elections observer log.
    • Wearing an elections observer badge at all times.
    • Adhering to all health and safety protocols, such as wearing a mask, frequently washing and/or sanitizing their hands, maintaining at least 6' social distancing at all times. See COVID-19 Protocols section for more information.
    • Maintaining a professional manner while observing the election processes.
    • Ensuring that they do not interfere with the elections process.
    • Returning observer badges to the elections representative upon leaving.

  2. Observers may:
    • Be permitted access to designated observation areas, sufficiently close to enable them to observe election procedures.
    • View Vote by Mail ballot processing procedures.
    • View the activities at the vote tabulation and ballot processing areas.
    • Make notes and watch election procedures and activities.
    • View the canvass activities following the election.
    • Ask questions of designated elections representatives. 

  3. Observers may not:
    • Interfere with the judgment of the elections official, in the conduct of the election.
    • Assist in operations, touch or handle any ballots or other election-related materials.
    • Touch any voting equipment. 
    • Sit at worktables or view confidential voter information.
    • Use cellular phones, pagers, or two-way radios inside the processing areas.
    • Use telephones or computers located at ballot processing and tabulation areas.
    • Eat or drink at ballot processing and tabulation areas. 
    • Display any election materials or wear campaign badges, buttons or apparel.
    • Carry backpacks or packages of any kind into the processing areas.
    • Talk to or attempt to stop employees processing or tabulating ballots or supplies.

In the event of violation of these rules, the election observer will be asked to leave the vote tabulation and ballot processing observation areas. 

SCHEDULE OF ELECTION EVENTS

Dates                 Prior to Election Day continued
October 24, 2020  

Adjudication of scanned ballots will begin after all certified write-in candidates have been entered and 15-Day Close of Registration precinct totals have been added to the tabulation server.

At this time, any ballots that have been overvoted or have marginal marks will be viewed by elections staff and adjudicated based on the California Secretary of State Regulations and Voting System Standards.

October 31 – November 2, 2020  

Early voting period at the 35 Consolidated Polling Place locations located throughout the County.  Voters have been assigned to a polling place where they can obtain a replacement ballot, register and vote a live ballot, vote a provisional ballot or return their voted Vote by Mail ballot.  The polling locations are open during the following hours for early voting:

10/31 9am-5pm

11/1 9am-5pm

11/2 9am-6pm

Dates   Election Day, November 3, 2020
7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.  

The 35 polling places located throughout the County and three election offices are open from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. to process voters and receive vote by mail ballots.

All 35 locations will have external ballot reception for individuals that are returning their ballots.  Additionally, there are 30 secure Official Ballot Drop Boxes located throughout the County.

8:00 p.m.  

The polling places will begin closing procedures, this includes processing voters that are in line at 8:00 p.m., completing reconciliation forms, packing supplies, unused ballots and voted ballots, cleaning up the polling place and providing voted and unused ballot to the receiving drivers. 

Once the drivers have completed their route, they will return the voted ballots to the County Elections Main Office and all other supplies to the Warehouse. 

Ballot drop box retrievers, will allow the voters in line at 8:00 p.m. to deposit their ballot in the drop box and then secure all open drop slots.  The ballot drop box receivers will then open the main compartment of the drop box and remove all voted ballots and secure them in a serialized sealed bag which is logged by both retrievers.  Ballots are then returned to the nearest elections' office for transport to the County Elections Main Office.

All ballots and supplies are returned in dual custody.

8:00 p.m. - 8:10 p.m.  

The results of the Vote by Mail ballots that have been processed during the incoming Vote by Mail process and ballots received from Early Voting locations will be included in the first and second result reporting.  The results will be released via the website and at Election Central at the County Elections Office lobby. 

To view results from the website, click https://countyofsb.org/care/Elections/results.sbc

8:45 p.m. – until completed  

The voted ballots that have been received at the Polling Places will be returned to the County Main Office in dual custody by the Distribution/Receiving Drivers.

Voted ballots from the North County Offices and ballots returned to those locations from their area ballot drop boxes will be transported in dual custody under Sheriff escort to the County Elections Building Central Tally Location. 

At the Central Tally location ballots will be logged as received, we will confirm the ballot transport box seals are intact, then ballot processing boards review the polling place ballots to make sure stubs have been removed and ballots are not damaged in any way that would prevent them from be scanned.

8:45 p.m. – until completed  

Voted ballots will be scanned into batches by operators on the Central Count machines.  Once the ballots for the polling place have been counted, the ballots are sealed in their transport boxes and stored in the Ballot Room.    

8:45 p.m. – until completed  

Completed batches are sent to the Tally and Results server.  As soon as the first precincts are uploaded, the elections staff will generate the first update of the Results Summary Report.  We will release updates frequently throughout the evening and all result updates will be posted on the website.   

When all precincts have been counted a final semi-official (Election Night) Results Summary Report will be released.

Additionally, the final semi-official Statement of Votes Cast which shows results by precinct and contest will be generated and posted on the website.

To view results from the website, click https://countyofsb.org/care/Elections/results.sbc

Time   Day after Election, November 4, 2020
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  

Continue processing and tabulating Vote by Mail ballots received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day at the polls, in our offices, at drop boxes, and ballots that have been received by mail postmarked on or before Election Day.

Break down precinct and polling place supplies at the warehouse.

Begin processing registrations received at the polling locations for voters that voted a Conditional Voter Registration ballot.

Dates   Election Canvass Period
November 5, 2020 – December 3, 2020                

The California Elections Code requires that the official canvass begin no later than the Thursday following the election, that it be open to the public, and that it continue daily (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted) for no less than six hours each day until completed.  The county elections officials must complete the official canvass no later than the 30th day after the election.

The canvass period involves a number of different tasks that ensure all voted ballots are processed, all election supplies and equipment utilized during the election are accounted for, and an audit and reconciliation of election results is completed.  Please see the Official Canvass Tasks page for additional information.

 

VOTE BY MAIL PROCESSING

Vote by Mail (VBM) Ballots are returned by mail, in-person to a secure ballot drop box, office or at a polling location.

VBM Ballots are entered by there return location and indicate the date they were received.  VBM Ballots go through a number of steps to be validated and prepared for counting.

First Step –Ballot Sortation and Automated Signature Verification

  • Return ballot envelopes are scanned on a sorter which endorses the ballot and sorts it by supervisorial district into one of 5 output bins.  Ballots that are unable to be read are outsorted and handled manually.
  • Scanned ballots are stored in trays until they are verified. 
  • An automated signature program is run to compare the voter's signature on the return envelope to the signature on their registration record on file.  
  • All images scanned are imported into the Election Management System, where staff that have been trained on the criteria in state regulations for verifying signatures, are able to review the signatures manually for those the system was unable to determine were a match.
  • If the staff determines the signatures do not match, the ballot will be saved as "In-Review".
  • Once all ballots have been verified for that run, the ballot disposition is sent from the Election Management System back to the sorter.  The trays are loaded on the sorter one at a time and go through a second pass to extract any "In-Review" ballots from the tray.  That will leave only "Good" ballots in the tray that can be extracted.
  • Any ballots flagged as "In-Review" will be provided to a supervisor for further inspection.  If it is still determined that the signature does not match, the elections office will outreach the voter, who will then have until 5:00 pm two days prior to the certification of the election to submit a Signature Verification Statement.  If a Signature Verification Statement is received timely, then the ballot can be counted.

If a voter fails to sign their ballot return envelope, the voter will be outreached to complete an Unsigned Ballot Statement which must be returned to the election's office no later than 5:00 pm two days prior to the certification of the election.

Ballots requiring either statement will be saved as "In-Review" until either the statement has been received by our office and the ballot disposition is changed to "Good" or if not returned, the ballot will be changed to Challenged and the reason affixed.

Second Step – Extraction

Good ballots are extracted from their return envelopes by tray. The emptied envelopes are stored for 22 months and the ballots are kept in their tray to be examined for damage and prepared for counting.

Third Step – Flattening and boxing of ballots

A tray of ballots is given to a staff member that checks the ballots for any tears, signatures or initials on the ballots, red ink and pencil.  The staff member also flattens the ballot by back bending the ballot at the folds and faces the ballot the same direction. Ballots are then separated into two groups those ready to be counted and those needing to be remade so they can be read by the tabulator.  All ballots are placed in a box and sent to the ballot room for either ballots to be remade and the counted or if no ballots need to be remade, the box is stored for counting.

Fourth Step – Remaking Ballots (Duplication)

Due to COVID-19, we are duplicating ballots by logging the ballot with a serial number and then marking the voter's selections using an ICX ballot marking device to create a duplicate ballot.

The duplicate ballot will be marked with the same serial number and two people will review the original ballot to the duplicated ballot.  The damaged ballot is stamped void and stored for retention and the duplicated ballot is returned to the box with the other ballots and stored for counting.

OFFICIAL CANVASS TASKS

Listed below are the major components of the official canvass.  These components must be performed in a particular order as identified below:

  1. Vote by Mail Ballots:  Vote by Mail ballots that are received timely, either by 8:00 pm on Election Day or received by mail no later than seventeen (17) days after Election Day and are postmarked on or before Election Day are processed and tabulated. 
  2. 1% Manual Tally:  A 1% manual tally of ballots cast is conducted to verify the tabulation equipment's accuracy.  On Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. staff will randomly select 1% of the polling place precincts and 1% of the batches counted on central count machines included in the semi-official results.  Staff will then do a hand tally to confirm that the manual count matches the machine count.
  3. Emergency Period – Vote by Mail Ballots:  The emergency Vote by Mail ballots are processed before the provisional ballot processing has begun.  The emergency Vote by Mail ballots were issued after the close of the Vote by Mail period.  They are verified last to ensure they did not vote by any other means before they are processed and counted. 
  4. Provisional Ballots:  Provisional ballots are processed by checking the voter registration file to verify the voter's eligibility to cast the ballot, confirming that the signature on the provisional ballot envelope matches the voter's signature on their registration record, confirming the voter cast the ballot in the correct precinct, and confirming the voter has not returned a ballot by any other means.  Once verified and approved for opening, the ballot is added to the official count.
  5. Damaged Ballots:  Damaged ballots that were unable to be processed by the tabulation equipment, which includes torn ballots, will be duplicated.  Once the duplication is completed the ballots will be counted.
  6. Conditional Voter Registration Provisional Ballots:  Voters that did not register by the close of registration have the option to register and vote a Conditional Voter Registration Provisional Ballot.  As these voters registered after the Rosters are printed, they are processed and counted at the end of the canvass period to ensure they did not vote in another county or in Santa Barbara County.
  7. Unsigned Ballot and Signature Verification Statements:  Process all Unsigned Ballot and Signature Verification Statements, validate vote by mail return status and count ballots for those voters.
  8. Reconciliation:  The reconciliation of the precinct voting issues is completed to verify that the number of signatures listed as voting matches the number of ballots tabulated by the computer system.
  9. Certification of the Election:  The certification of the election occurs no later than 30 days following the election and is completed once the tasks above and all other canvass procedures are completed.  

POLLING PLACE ELECTION OBSERVER RULES

All observers shall check-in with the Lead at each polling place they visit upon arrival.

Polling Place Election Observers MAY:

  • Observe the proceedings at the polls, including opening and closing procedures.
  • Confirm with the Lead where the best locations at the polling places are for them to stand and observe the processes to make sure they are not interfering with conduct of any part of the voting process and ask the lead questions regarding processes.
  • Make notes and watch all procedures.

Polling Place Election Observers MAY NOT:

  • Stand behind the precinct table.
  • Interfere with the conduct of any election.
  • Converse with poll workers or voters in such a manner as to interfere with or delay the voting process.
  • Touch any materials or equipment or sit at the official precinct board table.
  • Use the area between the official precinct board check-in tables, voting booths, ballot reception stations and ICX ballot marking devices as observation point/post. 
  • Intimidate or impede poll workers or voters in any way.
  • Directly challenge a voter.  Only a member of a precinct board may do so, based on evidence presented.
  • Interfere with the timely closing of polls.
  • Converse with voters within 100 feet of the entrance relating to the casting of a vote or about their qualifications to vote.
  • Display any campaign material or wear candidate badges within 100 feet of the entrance.
  • Wear the uniform of a peace officer, a private guard, or security personnel.
  • Use cellular telephones, pagers or two-way radios inside the polling place or within 100 feet of the entrance.
  • Monopolize and/or remove the posted Precinct Indexes so that others are unable to use them.
  • Use polling place's telephone or other facilities.
  • Smoke inside the polling place.

Non-Compliance with Rules

  • If the rules are not complied with, the Inspector will ask the polling place observer to leave the polling place.
  • If the polling place observer fails to leave, he/she may be contacted by law enforcement.

Law that Pertains to Poll Watching 

Any person who in any manner interferes with the officers holding an election or conducting a canvass, or with the voters lawfully exercising their rights of voting at an election, as to prevent the election or canvass from being fairly held and lawfully conducted, is punishable by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years (E.C. Sec. 18502).

See pages 7-17 of the CCROV 20224 Secretary of State Guidance on Election Observations Rights and Responsibilities for additional laws pertaining to poll watching.