Welcome to CA Voting 101—Lesson Two
The Election Process Belongs to YOU
As a California citizen, you have the right to register to vote and then to vote. But DID YOU KNOW that you have many other rights that allow you to oversee the entire electoral process and exert citizen “quality control”? Your rights are enumerated in the Election Code (¶2300 and others). You have the right to observe ALL pre-Election day activities, such as voting equipment preparation and testing, early voting and vote by mail processing. You have the right to observe ALL Election day activities, including the setting up and opening of the polls, all voting procedures, the closing of the polls and the delivery of ballots to the Elections Office or the Collection Center. You need to make no prior arrangements, and you need no additional permission. Remember, the electoral process belongs to We the People, and we have every right to oversee it and protect it. You have the right to observe the election process. That means that you are allowed to sit or stand where you can see and hear adequately, as long as you do not interfere in any way with voters or poll workers. You have the right to make notes and obtain information from the street index that is required to be posted at or near the entrance of each polling place. Perhaps most importantly… …you have the right to ask questions of the election officials, and to receive answers or be redirected to someone who can give you the answer you are requesting. If you want an explanation for anything you see or hear in the polls, you have a right to ask and receive answers. After completing “California Voting 101”, you will know a great deal about the way polls should be run. If you see or hear something that you believe may be in error, you have the right to ask the election officials to verify the procedure by looking in their training materials or calling their hotline for help. Do NOT allow yourself to be denied that right. It is #8 on the Voter Bill of Rights, which must be posted on the wall in every polling place. In exerting your right to observe and ask questions, Election Integrity Project reminds you:
- In your interaction with the election officials, always be polite. Remember that they are patriots whose goal is the same as yours—a lawfully and well-run election—and their job is complicated and stressful. They deserve our respect and our thanks, and when given properly and humbly, they appreciate our input.
- Whenever possible, direct your questions to the Precinct Inspector. That person is the ultimate authority in the polling place, and responsible to ensure that all procedures are done properly.
- Never approach an election official who is engaged with a voter. Always ask your questions when the Inspector is available.
- Never dispute, challenge or argue with any election official. Never demand or insist. If you are unsatisfied with the results of your interaction, there are ways to proceed that we will discuss at a future time. Just thank the Inspector, smile and leave.
You have the right to view all stages of the canvass (vote counting), including signature verification on mail-in ballots and provisional ballots. You have the right to ask questions and receive answers from election officials at the ballot processing center as well. As you can see, knowledge that resides in the citizenry is a powerful thing. The larger number of educated eyes that are on the process, the more We the People can hold the process accountable to what is lawful. All Election Day voters should be Observers at least for the period of time that they are in the polls casting their own vote. It is vital to the integrity of the process that we all know the rules, and hold officials accountable. SPREAD THE WORD!!