SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The general election is around the corner, and registered voters in California will soon begin receiving their ballots in the mail.

Courtney Bailey-Kanelos, the Registrar of Voters in Sacramento County, explained the process of how each vote will be counted starting November 3.

What You Need To Know

  • Voters in California will start receiving their ballots the first week of October

  • Checking signatures is the first step when ballots are received

  • The ballot sorter machine groups ballots together to make the counting process more efficient

  • Ballots are taken to an extraction machine so the privacy of each voter is protected before their vote is counted

On election day, thousands of ballots will be shuffling through their system, and Bailey-Kanelos said she’s making sure her team is prepared to quickly and carefully count every vote.

“Once they start coming in, we’re able to start the process of signature checking, sorting, extracting, and tabulating. The faster you get those in, the faster you’ll get your results,” Bailey-Kanelos said.

The first stop for ballots at the Sacramento County Registrar’s Office is where signatures are checked before a ballot can be processed.

“If you forgot to sign your return envelope or if your signature on the return envelope does not match your voter registration then this team here will review and then also send out notifications to those voters to let them know something’s wrong,” Bailey-Kanelos added.

If the ballots have a signature that matches each person’s voter registration, then Bailey-Kanelos’s team moves the ballots forward into the mail sorter. The machine then groups ballots together to make the counting process more efficient.

“It takes a picture of that envelope image with the signature and then it’s sorted into these different buckets by precinct,” Bailey-Kanelos said.

After this procedure, ballots are taken to the extraction machine so that the privacy of each voter is protected before their vote is counted.

“It goes very fast. We pull the ballot out of the envelope and the voter’s information is covered,” Bailey-Kanelos noted.

The next step is tabulation. At this point, votes from each ballot are finally tallied.

“Even if you make a mistake on your ballot and you cross it off and you put-- you circle and say yes this one. We will count it based on your intent,” Bailey-Kanelos said.

She explains that each of these steps is done to protect the integrity and security of each vote. 

Starting on election day, California has 28 days to certify the election for president. 

Bailey-Kanelos said that her team will use that entire time to make sure every single ballot that is eligible will be counted.