How mail-in ballots get counted ahead of election day

Your Local Election HQ

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Election officials in San Mateo County began counting its mail-in ballots on Tuesday.

A recent law allows the Department of Elections to begin processing vote-by-mail ballots 29 days before Election Day. To date, the USPS has delivered nearly 62,000 completed ballots. Election officials are giving insight into how they make sure its residents’ ballots count.

Signatures matter

The signature you use for your voter registration matters — it should not be like the scribbles rushed onto food receipts and store purchases. Election officials say they compare the signature on the envelope containing the mail-in ballot, with the voter registration signature.

Once a ballot is verified and counted, the data gets stored in a computer. However, election officials do not disclose the early count until it’s added to the total election day tally after polls close.

Ballots can be filled out and mailed back to election officials or placed in an official drop box. This week, California’s Republican Party admitted to putting up unofficial ballot drop boxes — which state election officials are calling illegal.

Elections processes can be watched in person at the Department’s main office in Room 48 of City Hall, the Pier 31 warehouse, and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. However, watching through a livestream is encouraged instead:

Click here to find a list of official drop boxes near you.

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