VCNC Featuring Ventura County – Episode 7 Elections Division: Counting the Vote

VCNC Featuring Ventura County – Episode 7 Elections Division: Counting the Vote

Articles, Blog , ,


(energetic music) – Welcome to Featuring Ventura County. In every election, thousands
of ballots are cast, and each of those ballots
contains numerous votes and each of those votes needs to be counted quickly and accurately. The votes are counted here at the County Government Center behind me. Let’s go take a look at how it’s done. The Elections Division conducts all federal, state, county, school, and special district
elections in Ventura County, and general municipal elections for all 10 Ventura County cities. There’s a lot of work to be
done before Election Day arrives and elections are the responsibility of the county clerk and
recorder, Mark Lunn. Mark, thanks for letting us come down and see how our votes are counted. – Hi Bill, welcome. Conducting elections,
fair and open elections. are the cornerstone of our democracy and that’s basically what we do here, make sure that every legal
ballot that is cast gets counted. And there’s a tremendous
check and balance system that we have here to makes
sure that that happens. And it takes a lot of
people to get that done. – How many people are
involved in the process? – We have only 14 full-time employees that work here in Elections. And as the election draws near, that number goes to about 2,000. They’re split between here in the office and the polling places, we have over 360 of
them in Ventura County. The job is to make sure
that every vote that’s cast, whether it’s vote-by-mail
or at a polling place, is cast legally. – The ballots start arriving
weeks before the election. These are vote-by-mail ballots and this machine scans
the images on the ballots. Irma Hernandez is with me and she’s going to explain
how this machine works. Hi, Irma. – Hi, Bill. I’d be happy to explain. Daily as these ballots come in, we start loading them
onto this conveyor belt. As they are feeding
through, the machine is capturing an image of the envelope. At the same time, it’s sorting
these ballots by precinct. – What is the machine scanning for? What is it looking at? – The machine is scanning the barcode that is on the envelope, which identifies the voter’s precinct number,
it’s a four digit number. And it capture the signature
block that is on the envelope. We need that signature to compare it to the signature the voter has on file. – And what happens if
the signature is wrong or they forget to sign the envelope? – If the voter forgets
to sign the envelope or the signature on the
envelope does not match the signature we have
on file for that voter, we refer to it then as
a challenged ballot. What we do then is we try to contact the voter to make a correction. – So there’s really an effort to make sure that voter gets to vote? – Yes, that is correct. We contact the voter by mail. As we approach the
election, then we revert to contacting the voter by phone. Meanwhile, that ballot is
pulled from this process and it is stored in this room in a box until we hear from the voter
to have their vote counted. – Tracy Saucedo is the county’s assistant registrar of voters. Tracy, what happens to the ballots after they’re removed from the envelopes? – Once they’re removed from the envelopes, the staff looks through
them to make sure that there’s a straight line being
drawn in each voting area. Some voters mark their
ballots with circles or x’s, but the machines only recognize a straight line in the vote column. Then the ballots go to be counted. They enter the secure counting
room on a conveyor belt and they’re loaded onto
the machines to be tallied. This is the counting room and there’s one of three things that
happen to the ballots. They come in, and to be
tallied, they go into here. And if everything’s great, they come out and they go straight into this box. (machine sorting papers) If by chance, they draw the
line and it’s too thick, the machine can’t tell and it
goes into this out-stack bin. If they’ve decided to vote for a write-in, it comes down into this bin here (machine sorting ballots) and then the ballots are tallied manually. We want to be sure that
every legal vote is counted and that we have done our best to capture the voter’s actual intent. – All of the data from
the vote-by-mail ballots is stored on these secure servers, but none of it can be viewed until after 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. But mailed in ballots
aren’t the only votes that are cast on the Election Day. The rest come from the polling place. (swearing in deputies) Before the polls close,
the county clerk recorder swears in the deputies
who will be responsible for transporting the ballots
to the government center. The oath makes them deputy county clerks, and authorizes them to handle
the ballots on his behalf. The ballots start to arrive about an hour or so after the polls close. At the polling places,
the votes are recorded onto computer cartridges
or electronic memory cards. The data from the cartridges is sent to the same secure server, where it is added to the data
from the vote-by-mail ballots. If people want to follow
the vote tabulation, do they have to come here
to the Government Center or wait for the TV news? – No, they don’t, they can actually go to our website and see
the tabulation in real time or they can download our VC Elections app and get it on their smartphone. – Shortly after 8:00 p.m.,
the first results are posted. These votes come from
the vote-by-mail ballots. Over the remainder of the evening and into the early morning hours, the rest of the votes are tallied. But that doesn’t mean the work is done. What has to happen to
certify the election? – The day after election, we enter what we call a canvass period. And the purpose of that is to
tie up all the loose details and to audit our results to
make sure that they’re accurate. We accept ballots for three days, if they’re legally postmarked,
after the election. So we take the poll votes,
the vote-by-mail votes to make sure that they were cast legally, and we end up with our results. We have 30 days to do that,
but with the great staff that I have here, we always certify early. – How much of this process
is visible to the public? – All of it is visible to the public, especially on Election Day, they can come in and
see what happens here. The polling places are
visible to the public. Elections are a fair, open,
and transparent process, and we want people to see
our democracy in action. – What happens to all of the ballots after the election is over? – We keep them in a secure area for 22 months, the law requires that. And the purpose of that is to make sure that we can address any question that comes up about the
vote after the election. – Are there any common misperceptions about voting or the voting process? – Bill, the most common thing that I hear is my vote doesn’t count anyways. Do you count all the votes? Rest assured that we count
every vote that’s cast legally here in Ventura County
every election. – The employees of the
county’s Elections Division have a passion for the democratic process and they’re working to
keep our democracy pure. The next time you visit a polling place or drop your ballot in the mail, you can be sure that your vote will be counted quickly and accurately. (energetic music) See you next time on
Featuring Ventura County. (soft music)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *