CA Voting 101 – Lesson 8

Welcome to CA Voting 101–Lesson Eight

Protecting Yourself and Others at the Polls

The California Election Code is over 800 pages long! But the good news is that the previous lessons in the “CA Voting 101” series have alerted you to the basic regulations and procedures that are most important to know. Now it’s up to you!!. By watching for proper procedures to be followed, and politely questioning election officials when you perceive a violation, you can make an enormous difference, and a huge contribution to protecting the integrity of each and every vote!

Vital information bears repeating.

Election Integrity Project has proven that the following procedures are the most universally violated procedures, and yet the most important to protect votes and the integrity of the process. CHECK-IN PROCEDURE: All voters must be asked to state their name and address ALOUD, and have both repeated back by poll workers before signing in and receiving a ballot. (EC § 14216) Since there is no ID requirement in California, this is the only protection we have against voter impersonation. Any short cuts to this procedure severely threaten election integrity. VOTER PRIVACY: California law dictates that all voters, except those who have sworn a need for assistance, MUST vote ALONE within the confines of a booth or privacy-protected machine. Children under the age of 18 may accompany voters in the booth. Voters may not lawfully elect to vote at an open table or anywhere else outside the provided booths. (EC §§ 14222, 14224(a), 14281) Husbands and wives, adult children and parents, best friends—whatever the relationship, MAY NOT lawfully occupy the same voting booth while voting. This regulation is vital to protect every voter’s right to a vote of conscience uninfluenced by any prying eyes. Sadly, some people DO intimidate their spouse, some parents DO intimidate their children, some friends DO intimidate friends. The only way to protect those who might find themselves in a type of abusive relationships is to observe this law. Voting booths and voting machines must be adjusted or arranged within the room so as to conceal from any observation the voter’s marking of the ballot. (EC § 14110) As much as possible, given the dictates of the room, voting booths should protect voters on all four sides (the wall being the fourth), and be spaced sufficiently so that no voter has to walk behind another in order to enter an empty booth. VOTER ASSISTANCE: Voters with physical or language handicaps must be allowed assistance when requested. BUT, voters receiving assistance from another person must swear a verbal oath that they cannot otherwise mark their ballot independently. Voters receiving “assistance” from another person without having taken the oath are in violation of the voter privacy laws. Voters may not be assisted by their own employer or union representative. VOTING IN PROPER PRECINCT: “California Voting 101—Lesson Seven” discussed why casting an unnecessary provisional ballot greatly threatens individual votes and the integrity of the election in general.  Therefore, voters whose names cannot be found on the precinct roster should be offered as much assistance as necessary to find their own precinct before being offered the opportunity to vote provisionally. Poll workers are supplied with maps and other materials for this purpose and can also assist voters in calling the hotline if need be. Because voting provisionally should be someone’s last resort, it is important that poll workers protect voters from doing so unnecessarily. SECOND CHANCES:        Ballots can be complicated, and mistakes happen.  If voters make a mistake while marking their ballot, they may ask the poll workers to “spoil” their ballot and give them a new one. Voters may spoil up to two ballots.  Voters should make sure that the original ballot is clearly marked as spoiled and stored away from the ballot box. MAIL-IN BALLOTS:  “California Voting 101—Lesson Five” discussed choices for mail ballot voters at the polls. Here is a review:

  • Voters may submit a completed mail ballot sealed in its envelope at any polling place in their county. Poll workers should check the envelope to be sure it is filled out correctly, and ask voters to fix anything that is done incorrectly before putting the ballot in the box.
  • Voters may bring in a completed mail ballot without its envelope and receive a replacement envelope. Once the ballot is sealed inside the new envelope, and the envelope is completely filled out, the ballot may be submitted to the ballot box.
  • Voters may bring their mail ballot to their own precinct and SURRENDER it. Once it is clearly marked “surrendered” and stored away from the ballot box, the voter becomes a regular, same-day voter and checks in following the procedures outlined above. THESE VOTERS MUST RECEIVE A REGULAR BALLOT; THEY ARE NOT TO VOTE PROVISIONALLY.
  • Voters with no mail ballot to surrender may vote provisionally ONLY.

Knowing these simple procedures, and politely insisting that they be followed will allow all voters to make a big difference in the lawfulness of any election. Do not be shy!

A lawful election is your RIGHT.

Ensuring that all regulations are followed is every voter’s DUTY.