Election official explains verification process for ballots

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As of Thursday morning, elections officials in Sacramento County have received more than 380,000 mail-in and drop-off ballots. 

It’s more than twice the number of total ballots received in the 2016 elections around the same time. 

With so many people opting to vote by mail or in drop boxes, signature verification is key. 

For Adam Endelman, mailing in his ballot was a celebration of sorts. 

“It’s this wonderful marriage of civic responsibility and easy convenience,” Endelman told FOX40. 

But a few days later, after signing up for California’s new ballot tracking program, he got an email warning him of a processing issue.

“I was worried that my ballot wasn’t going to be counted,” Endelman said. “And that made me think, like, ‘Uh oh, if my ballot’s not going to be counted, what about millions of other ballots out there?’”

It was flagged because the signature on the ballot didn’t match the one from his voter registration or license closely enough. 

It’s an issue Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Courtney Bailey-Kanelos said they’ve seen just over 1,000 times so far during early voting. 

“We have these security checks in place to limit and reduce any sort of fraudulent activities,” Bailey-Kanelos explained. 

She took FOX40 inside the elections office Thursday to demonstrate how the verification process works. 

All mail-in and drop-off ballots first go through a sorter, where a machine takes a picture of the signature and compares it with what they have on file. Roughly 10% of ballots don’t make it through the first round because it has to be a “high-confidence match.”

So, the pictures are sent for trained workers to inspect and compare the signatures. 

It doesn’t have to be a perfect match. They’re looking for at least three similarities by identifying characteristics such as how specific letters are written across each signature.

Ballots that don’t pass that round are sent to a supervisor for a hands-on review. Bailey-Kanelos said about 1% of ballots each year are rejected at that stage.

They then send letters to every one of those voters, giving them an opportunity to verify who they are.

“If your signature’s changed over time, then we’ll work with you on that, no problem,” she said. 

As for Endelman, he was able to verify his signature, and he’s grateful his voice will be heard.

Voters have until two days before the election is certified to correct any issues. That date will vary by county. Sacramento County is telling voters to aim for Nov. 20.

More Your Local Election Headquarters

Don't miss

More Featured

Latest News

More News