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This Chapter sets out the requirements and procedures to be used by the City Clerk in counting the ballots and counting the votes in elections conducted by the City Clerk and governed by this Code. The requirements of this Chapter shall be liberally construed in favor of the voter so that the City Clerk shall count all votes cast by eligible voters where the voter's choice can be ascertained. However, no vote shall be counted unless the voter is in fact eligible to vote on the particular contest for which votes are being counted.
Article A – Ballot Counting Devices, Programs and Canvass Procedures
No later than seven days prior to any election conducted pursuant to this Code, the City Clerk shall conduct a test or series of tests to ensure that every device used to count ballots accurately records each vote. The exact methods employed in this test shall conform to the procedures for the specific voting systems, as adopted by the Secretary of State.
(a) A copy of each election computer vote count program for an election shall be deposited into escrow with a company authorized by the Secretary of State to retain the programs. The copy of the election computer vote count program shall be placed into escrow no later than 5:00 p.m. on the seventh day before the election.
(b) If the election computer vote count program is modified or altered consistent with Secretary of State procedures after the submission specified in subdivision (a), the City Clerk shall immediately deposit the subsequent program.
(c) The escrowed programs shall be retained in escrow for a period of not less than six months after the election, at which time the program shall be returned to the City Clerk.
(d) The City Clerk shall preserve the returned program for a period of not less than six months.
(e) The programs deposited in accordance with this section shall be used only to verify the validity of a re-canvass of the vote, to conduct an official electronic recount, if the vote count system used on electionnight is not operating properly, pursuant to order by the Court, or for logic and accuracy tests required in an independent review of the election.
(f) Any tape, diskette, cartridge, or other magnetic or electronic storage medium containing the vote count program submitted pursuant to this section shall be maintained by the escrow company in a secure location when not in use for an official purpose.
The City Clerk shall adopt procedures for both the unofficial and official canvass to conform to the applicable voting system procedures that have been approved by the Secretary of State. These procedures shall be available for public inspection no later than 29 days before each election. These procedures will also conform to the Charter and City Election Code and can be modified to reflect the Charter and City Election Code requirements of the City, if necessary.
Article B – Vote-By-Mail Verification, Challenges, Processing and Canvassing
The City Clerk may begin to verify Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelopes beginning 29 days before the election. Verifying Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelopes includes verifying the voter's signature and address on the Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelope and updating voter history records as appropriate. No Vote-By-Mail Ballot shall be removed from its envelope until the time for canvassing.
The City Clerk may start to process Vote-By-Mail Ballots on the seventh day prior to the election. Processing Vote-By-Mail Ballots includes opening Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelopes, removing ballots, duplicating any damaged ballots, and preparing the ballots to be counted and/or counting them, but under no circumstances may a vote count be released until the close of the polling places on the day of the election.
(a) The verification and processing of Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelopes and the counting of Vote-By-Mail Ballots shall be open to the public, both prior to, during, and after the election.
(b) Any candidate on the ballot, any authorized representative of a candidate on the ballot, any other interested organization, and any registered voter, shall be permitted to observe and challenge the manner in which the Vote-By-Mail Ballots are handled, from the verification and processing of Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelopes through the counting and disposition of the ballots.
(c) The City Clerk shall notify the public at least 48 hours in advance of the dates, times, and place where Vote-By- Mail ballots will be verified, processed and counted.
(d) Observers shall be allowed sufficiently close access to enable them to observe and challenge whether those individuals handling Vote-By-Mail Ballots are following established procedures.
(e) No observer shall interfere with the orderly verification and processing of Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelopes or processing and counting of Vote-By-Mail Ballots, including touching or handling of the ballots.
During the verification and processing of the Vote-by-Mail Ballot Return Envelopes, and prior to the time at which the Vote-By-Mail Ballots are removed and separated from the return envelopes, a challenge to the entitlement to vote of a particular Vote-By-Mail voter may be made by an observer on the grounds specified in Chapter IX of this Code. In addition, a challenge may be entered on the grounds that the ballot was not received within the time provided by this Code, was delivered by an unauthorized agent, that the a voter is imprisoned for a conviction of a felony and ineligible to vote, or otherwise not delivered in compliance with applicable Sections in Chapter X of this Code. All challenges will be resolved by the City Clerk.
The challenger shall have the burden of establishing extraordinary proof of the validity of the challenge at the time the challenge is made because the voter is not present.
If a challenge is overruled by the City Clerk, the Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelope shall be opened and retained without defacing the affidavit printed on it or mutilating the enclosed ballot and, without viewing the ballot, remove it and store the ballot in a secure location until it is processed for counting.
If a challenge is allowed, the City Clerk shall endorse on the face of the Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return Envelope the cause of the challenge and its action thereon.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, the counting and canvassing of Vote-By-Mail Ballots shall be conducted in the same manner as used for all other ballots cast.
(b) Under no circumstances may a Vote-By-Mail vote count be released until the close of the polling places on election day.
Article C – Early Voting Processing and Canvass
Early voting ballots shall be transmitted and/or delivered to the central counting facility in accordance with instructions issued by the City Clerk.
(a) Upon receipt of the early voting ballots at the central counting facility, the City Clerk shall review the transmission material and any accompanying reconciliation material to determine that the early voting ballots are ready for inclusion in the unofficial canvass.
(b) Upon the City Clerk’s determination that the early voting ballots are ready to canvass, the City Clerk shall count the ballots, using equipment appropriate to the medium the ballots are stored in, for inclusion in the unofficial canvass.
(c) Under no circumstances may an early voting vote count be released until the close of the polling places on election day.
The City Clerk will retain in a secure location, for a period of not less than six months after the election is certified, the early voting ballots and any accompanying reconciliation material.
Article D – Unofficial Canvass
For every election, the City Clerk shall conduct an unofficial canvass by counting Vote-By-Mail, Early Voting and precinct ballots and compiling the results. Except as provided elsewhere in this Code for Vote-By-Mail and Early Voting ballots, the unofficial canvass shall commence immediately upon the close of the polling places and shall continue without adjournment until all precinct ballots are accounted for. Upon completion of the unofficial canvass, the final unofficial results shall be released to the public.
Neither the City Clerk, nor any Precinct Board Member, nor any other person shall count any votes cast at any polling place, either for a ballot measure or candidate, until the close of all the polling places in the election jurisdictions managed by the City Clerk. After that time, the ballots for all candidates and ballot measures voted upon shall be counted and the results of the balloting made public. However, the results for any candidate or ballot measure also voted upon in another city that is conducting the election for those candidates or measures on behalf of the City Clerk shall not be made public until after all the polling places in those various election jurisdictions have closed. This paragraph applies regardless of whether the counting is done by manual count or by a vote counting device or whether the vote count is done at a central facility or at distributed locations. The results of Vote-By-Mail or Early Voting Ballots canvassed prior to the close of the polling places as provided elsewhere in this Code shall not be released until after the close of the polling places in all applicable election jurisdictions.
Prior to counting the ballots, the City Clerk shall perform the following tasks:
(a) Each container of ballots or the medium that contains the voted ballots shall be opened and its contents removed. The ballots shall be checked to ascertain if the ballots are properly grouped and shall be arranged, if necessary, so that all similar ballots from a precinct, Vote-By-Mail or Early Voting ballot group/batch are together.
(b) In preparing the voted ballots for processing, any ballot that contains personal information, or is torn, bent, mutilated, or otherwise defective shall be corrected, consistent with the procedures or guidelines outlined in the State certification of the voting system, so that every vote cast by the voter shall be counted by the automated tabulating equipment. If necessary, a true duplicate copy of the defective ballot shall be made and substituted therefor, following the intention of the voter insofar as it can be ascertained from the defective ballot. All duplicate ballots shall be clearly labeled “duplicate,” and shall bear a serial number that shall be recorded on the damaged or defective ballot. The original defective ballot shall be kept in a secure location so that the duplicate ballot may be compared against it, if necessary.
(c) A ballot shall not be rejected for any error which does not render it impossible to determine the voter’s choice.
(d) If a voter writes in or marks a vote for more than one name for any office, or if for any other reason does not indicate distinctly the voter’s choice for any office, or marks opposite any measure both the negative and affirmative answers to the measure, the vote for that particular office or measure shall not be counted, but the rest of the ballot, if properly marked, shall be counted.
(a) The vote counting devices may be located at any place within the election jurisdiction approved by the City Clerk. The same devices may be jointly owned, borrowed, leased, or used by the City Clerk and other political subdivisions to count ballots cast in any election.
(b) All proceedings at the central counting place, or counting places, if applicable, shall be open to the view of the public but no one, except those employed and designated for the purpose by the City Clerk or an authorized deputy, shall touch any ballot container or ballot. Access to the area where electronic data processing equipment is being operated shall be restricted to those authorized by the City Clerk.
(a) A person may be employed to count, tally, and certify the ballots if the person is not a candidate at the election and satisfies either of the following requirements:
(1) Has the qualifications required for a Precinct Board Member.
(2) Is a deputy, employee or authorized designee of the City Clerk.
(b) No person selected to count ballots need reside in any particular precinct.
Any magnetic or electronic storage medium used for the ballot count program and any magnetic or electronic storage medium containing election results shall be kept in a secure location and shall be retained for six months following any City conducted election or so long thereafter as any contest involving the vote at the City conducted election remains undetermined.
The City Clerk may have multiple ballot forms and counting systems depending on the type of ballots being cast (e.g. Vote-By-Mail may be a paper ballot, early voting may be an electronic ballot, precinct voting may be electronic or a card to be marked). The statement of the votes cast through each of the ballot forms and systems shall be consolidated and presented together for a final canvass of all the ballots cast.
The City Clerk shall establish a central counting place within the election jurisdiction where the voted ballots shall be processed and/or compiled and where the unofficial and official canvass shall be conducted. The location of the central counting place shall be made known to the public no later than 15 days before the election. All proceedings at the central counting place shall be open to the view of the public but no person, except those employed and/or designated for the purpose by the City Clerk or his or her authorized deputy, shall touch any ballot, ballot container, election supplies or related materials. Access to the area where electronic data processing equipment is being operated shall be restricted to those persons authorized by the City Clerk.
(a) The City Clerk shall establish one or more election return centers for the purpose of facilitating the retrieval of voted ballots and expediting their delivery to the central counting place.
(b) In establishing a return center, the City Clerk shall designate a group of precincts that the center shall serve and this designation shall be made known for public inspection no later than 15 days before the election. The election return center may be at any publicly accessible place as the City Clerk designates.
In case of an emergency in which it becomes impossible to transport the ballots from the precincts or the return centers to the central counting place established for the election, the City Clerk may direct that the ballots be counted at an alternative location(s). The alternative location(s) may be located within or outside of the City boundaries.
The City Clerk may establish one or more satellite counting places to count ballots from designated polling places and return centers and transmit the results via telephone, facsimile transmission, modem or any other mode of transmission authorized by the Secretary of State for the voting system being utilized to conduct the election. The vote count at the satellite counting places shall be conducted in all other respects in accordance with this Code. The list of designated polling places for each satellite counting place including the locations of the satellite counting places shall be available to the public no later than 15 days before the election.
Article E – Official Canvass
The official canvass shall commence as soon as practical following the election, shall be open to the public, and shall result in a certification of the results to the City Council or other jurisdiction in the case of a consolidated election being conducted by the City Clerk. The canvass shall be continued daily until completed not more than 28 days after the election.
The official canvass shall include, but not be limited to, the following tasks:
(a) An inspection of all materials and supplies returned by poll workers.
(b) A review and analysis of the Roster of Registered Voters, the ballot reconciliation statement and the number of ballots casts by precinct.
(c) A reconciliation of the number of ballots counted, spoiled, duplicated, and the number of undervotes and overvotes with the number of votes recorded, including Early Vote, Vote-By-Mail and Provisional Ballots, by the vote counting system for the unofficial canvass.
(d) Processing and counting any valid Vote-By-Mail and Provisional Ballots not included in the unofficial canvass.
(e) Counting any valid write-in votes.
(f) Correcting and duplicating, if necessary, and counting any defective ballots as provided for in Section 1217(b) of this Code.
(g) Certifying the final results to the City Council or other governing board, as required.
If the ballots and accompanying ballot reconciliation from any precinct are incomplete, ambiguous, not properly authenticated, or otherwise defective, the City Clerk may issue and serve subpoenas requiring Precinct Board Members to appear and be examined under oath concerning the manner in which the ballots were reconciled and submitted.
The City Clerk will open the envelopes or containers with the materials returned from the polling places. If, after examination, any of the materials are incomplete, ambiguous, not properly authenticated, or otherwise defective, the precinct board member may be summoned before the City Clerk and examined under oath to describe polling place procedures and to correct the errors or omissions.
Vote-By-Mail Ballots received by mail and Vote-By-Mail Ballots returned to the City Clerk and to the polling places on election day that are not included in the unofficial canvass phase of the election shall be processed and counted during the official canvass in the manner prescribed in this Code for canvassing other Vote-By-Mail Ballots.
Each voter is entitled to vote for a qualified write-in candidate for any public office at a Primary Nominating Election for which the voter is eligible to vote, by writing or entering the candidate’s name on the ballot or on a form provided for that purpose, or entered into an electronic voting system for any election at which candidates can be nominated for office.
Any name written upon a ballot, or separate form provided for that purpose, or entered into an electronic voting system for a write-in candidate qualified pursuant to Section 312 of this Code, including a reasonable facsimile of the spelling of a name, shall be counted for the office.
Neither a vote cast for a candidate whose name appears on the ballot nor a vote cast for a qualified write-in candidate shall be counted if the voter has indicated, by a combination of marking and writing, a choice of more than one candidate to be nominated or elected to the office.
All valid write-in votes shall be counted and certified by the City Clerk on forms provided for this purpose, and the write-in votes shall be added to the results of the count of the ballots at the counting place and be included in the official returns for the precinct and the election.
(a) Prior to counting provisional ballots cast pursuant to Chapter IX of this Code, the City Clerk shall review each provisional ballot according to the following procedures and procedures applicable in Article B of this Chapter:
(1) Compare the voter information on the provisional ballot envelope to the voter registration file to determine if the voter is entitled to vote in the election.
(2) compare the voter registration information to the type of ballot presented at the polling place where the provisional ballot was cast to determine if the voter was able to vote on any office or measure for which they were not entitled to vote.
(3) review the roster(s) of voters, the vote-by-mail return system log, and the early voting system log to ensure that the voter has not already voted in the election by another means.
(b) If the voter is not entitled to vote in the election or voted in the election by another means, the provisional ballot shall be challenged and shall not be counted. The provisional ballot envelope shall not be opened and the reason for the challenge shall be noted on the provisional ballot envelope.
(c) If the voter is entitled to vote in the election and did not vote in the election by any other means, the provisional ballot shall be counted as follows:
(2) if the voter was only able to vote for those offices and measures for which the voter was entitled to vote, then the ballot shall be removed from the provisional ballot envelope and counted in the same manner as other regular ballots during the official canvass.
(2) if the voter was able to vote for offices and measures for which the voter was not entitled to vote, then the ballot shall be removed from the provisional ballot envelope and a duplicate ballot shall be created as provided in Section 1217(b) containing only the votes cast for those offices and measures for which the voter was entitled to vote. Thereafter the duplicate ballot shall be counted in the same manner as other regular ballots during the official canvass.
(a) During the official canvass of every election in which an electronic vote counting system is used, the City Clerk shall manually recount the ballots in at least one percent of the voting precincts, chosen at random, for comparison to the electronic vote tally results. If one percent of the voting precincts should be less than one whole precinct selected for manual recount, the manual recount shall be conducted in one precinct chosen at random by the City Clerk.
(b) In addition to the one percent manual recount, the City Clerk shall, for each group of precincts voting on the same offices and measures not represented in the initial randomly selected group of precincts, count one additional precinct.
(c) Additional voting precincts for the manual recount may be selected at the discretion of the City Clerk.
(d) The manual tally shall be a public process. The City Clerk shall provide at least a five-day public notice of the beginning of the manual tally starting with the selection of precincts. The public notice shall include the date, time, and location of the manual tally.
After the ballots are counted, the City Clerk will ensure that they are secured in a location where the ballots may not be removed by anyone other than the City Clerk for election related reasons.
Upon completion of the vote count utilizing electronic tally equipment, the City Clerk shall add to the results as so determined, the results of the write-in votes, and the vote totals from any election jurisdiction conducting a portion of the election on behalf of the City, and thereupon shall issue the results and forthwith post one copy at the counting place for public inspection. In addition, vote results by precinct will be made available to the public.
The City Clerk shall prepare a certified statement of the results of the election and submit it to the City Council within 28 days after the day of the election.
The Certified Results shall include:
(a) The total number of ballots cast.
(b) The total number of votes cast for each candidate and for and against each measure.
(c) Candidates receiving less than one percent of the votes may be grouped together and listed under “Scattered” on the Certified Results.
The City Council or other governing body shall declare the results of the election and shall order the issuance of certificates of nomination or election as appropriate. The City Council or other governing board shall also declare the results of each election under its jurisdiction as to each measure voted on at the election.
The City Clerk shall make out and deliver to each candidate elected or nominated for City or LAUSD office, as declared by the City Council or other governing body, a certificate of election or nomination, signed and authenticated by the City Clerk.