Inquire about the availability of documents in accessible formats.
The purpose of an Election Observer is to provide an avenue for public observation and input
into the election process. Public participation ensures integrity and voter confidence in the
Check in Procedures
All observers must report and sign in daily at front counter located at 7000 65th Street
Suite A, Sacramento, CA 95823.
An Election Observer Badge will be issued and must be worn at all times.
When leaving for the day, please return the badge to the front counter.
Observers who fail to follow these rules will be required to leave the facility for the
duration of the election canvass.
This is a neutral office. No discussion of politics, campaigns or candidates is allowed
among observers within the facility.
No observer shall interfere with the orderly processing of Vote by Mail (VBM) ballot
return envelopes or processing and counting of VBM ballots, including touching or
handling of the ballots or envelopes. Elections Code §15104e
Observers will be permitted access to a designated observation area(s), sufficiently
close to enable them to observe and challenge whether individuals handling VBM ballots
are following established procedures. Elections Code 15104d
If the challenge process unduly impedes or interferes with the verification process,
challenges shall be discontinued.
Radios, cameras, cell phones and recording devices are not allowed. Pagers and
cellular phones must be set to vibrate or off mode while observing the canvass. You
may not use your cell phone in the building EXCEPT in the front lobby should you need
to make a call.
Backpacks, briefcases and large purses are not allowed.
The individual’s function is to observe that procedures are followed. Observers cannot
assist in operations, touch or handle any ballots or other election-related materials.
All questions concerning a procedure must be directed only to the supervisor or Manager
of the section.
The number of observers may be limited so as not to interfere with the process.
Observers must avoid physical contact with employees.
Observers are to hold discussions and conversations outside the designated Canvass
work areas. Anyone not adhering to these rules will be asked to leave for the day.
Observers will be allowed into the canvass work areas only when employees are
performing canvass operations.
Operations will continue as scheduled whether or not an observer is present.
Observers must remain in the area they were assigned to. If you are found unsupervised
in an area that you were not assigned to, you will be escorted from the building.
Helpful Hints for Election Observers
Wear comfortable shoes, you will be standing for long periods. We do not provide chairs
or seating arrangements.
Please refrain from wearing strong perfume or aftershave while observing.
Our staff is working as diligently as they can. Please respect their personal space.
Ballot Handling Challenges
Any member of the county grand jury, and at least one member each of the political
party Central Committees or County Councils who have a candidate on the ballot, and
any other interested organizations, shall be permitted to observe and challenge the
manner in which the VBM ballots are handled, from the processing of VBM ballot return
envelopes through the counting and disposition of the ballots. Elections Code §15104b
Observers may not challenge signatures on VBM ballot return envelopes. Only the
elections official shall perform signature comparison, in accordance with Division 3 of
the California Elections Code.
Observers may challenge whether the individuals handling VBM ballots are following
Canvass begins the day after the election and continues everyday (excluding Sunday)
until complete. Per Election Code law, Canvass procedures must be completed within
30 days after the date of the election.
All canvass procedures are open to the public, and the same election night guidelines
are applied to canvass proceedings. The canvass resumes each morning and does not
wait for your arrival, nor will it be halted until completed.
Any questions on procedures should be made directly to the Canvass Manager, and not
to individual workers. No communication between canvass workers and observers will
be allowed regardless of the topic. If you are seen communicating directly with a canvass
worker, you will be asked to leave.
No food or drinks will be allowed in Canvass area around any ballots. We kindly ask
observers to eat and drink at a local restaurant in our area during breaks.
Things to Remember - Elections Code § 18562.5
(a) A member of the public is guilty of a misdemeanor if, while observing any of the
following, he or she willfully engages in any conduct set forth in subdivision (b):
(1) The processing of vote by mail ballots conducted pursuant to Chapter 2
(commencing with Section 15100) of Division 15.
(2) The semifinal official canvass conducted pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with
Section 15150) of Division 15.
(3) The official canvass conducted pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with
Section15300) of Division 15.
(4)A recount conducted pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 15600) of
(b)(1) Attempting to ascertain the identity and ballot choices of a voter, or having
observed or learned the identity of a voter, attempting to ascertain the ballot
choices of that voter.
(2) Opening a provisional or vote by mail ballot envelope containing a voted ballot in
order to ascertain the voter's ballot choices.
(3) Making or placing a mark or device on a ballot or secrecy envelope in an attempt
to ascertain the voter's ballot choices.