Early Ballot Retrieval

California Code of Regulations

Title 2. Administration

Division 7. Secretary of State

Chapter 3.5 Early Ballot Retrieval

Article 1. Retrieval of Voted Vallots Prior to the Closing of the Polls

  • 20141 Definitions.
  • 20142 Notification of Places and Time of Early Ballot Retrieval.
  • 20143 Ballot Collection Procedures and Chain of Custody.
  • 20144 Processing of Retrieved Ballots.

20140. Purpose.

The purpose of this Article is to establish guidelines for the secure delivery and transfer of voted ballots retrieved from a polling place, including a vote center, prior to the closing of the polls to the office of the county elections official, a ballot receiving center, a central counting place, or a ballot processing location.

Note: Authority cited: Section 12172.5, Government Code; and Sections 10 and 14422, Elections Code. Reference: Section 14422, Elections Code.

20141. Definitions.

  1. Designated ballot retrievers” shall mean authorized county representatives, poll workers, or vote center workers, assigned to retrieve voted ballots together from polling places prior to the closing of the polls, or temporary workers or volunteers retained for the purpose of retrieving voted ballots from polling places prior to the closing of the polls.
  2. Early ballot retrieval” shall mean the collection and removal of voted ballots at any polling place prior to the closing of the polls for delivery to the office of the county elections official, a ballot receiving center, a central counting place, or a ballot processing location.

Note: Authority cited: Section 12172.5, Government Code; and Sections 10 and 14422, Elections Code. Reference: Section 14422, Elections Code.

20142. Notification of Places and Time of Early Ballot Retrieval.

  1. In accordance with Elections Code section 14422, if the county elections official directs the precinct board to seal ballot containers for ballot retrieval prior to the closing of the polls, the elections official must notify the public at least 48 hours prior to the election. 
  2. The notification shall include the dates, estimated times, and places at which ballots will be retrieved prior to the closing of the polls.
  3. The notification shall be conspicuously posted on the county elections official’s website, at the office of the elections official, and at any satellite locations. 
  4. The elections official shall provide a copy of the notification to the Secretary of State’s office in an electronic format for posting on the Secretary of State’s website. 
  5. Notification of an early ballot retrieval must be conspicuously posted at each polling place where early ballot retrieval will occur immediately prior to the opening of the polls.
  6. In the event an immediate, unplanned, ballot retrieval is necessary, notice is not required, but the procedures set forth in Section 20143 below must be followed.

Note: Authority cited: Section 12172.5, Government Code; and Sections 10 and 14422, Elections Code. Reference: Section 14422, Elections Code.

20143. Ballot Collection Procedures and Chain of Custody.

    1. The county elections official shall develop early ballot retrieval collection and chain of custody procedures, which shall be substantially similar to the following:
      1. The county elections official shall assign at least two designated ballot retrievers to retrieve voted ballots from polling places prior to the closing of the polls.  Each designated ballot retriever shall wear a badge or similar identification that readily identifies them as a designated ballot retriever.  In addition, each designated ballot retriever must take the following oath prior to retrieving ballots: “I, ___________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.”
      2. The names of the designated ballot retrievers shall be communicated to the precinct inspector or vote center lead immediately prior to the opening of the polls.  In the event a designated ballot retriever is unable to perform the duty of retrieving ballots, the elections official shall notify the precinct inspector of that fact and provide the name of the alternate designated ballot retriever.
      3. Only designated ballot retrievers may transport the retrieved voted ballots identified under this Article.
      4. Upon arrival at the polling place, the designated ballot retrievers shall each personally provide their identification to the precinct inspector, and note, on a form prescribed by the elections official, the time of arrival.
      5. Immediately prior to the retrieval of the ballots, the precinct inspector shall publicly announce to the voters in the polling place that voted ballots are being retrieved prior to the closing of the polls for transportation to the office of the county elections official, a ballot receiving center, a central counting place, or a ballot processing location.
      6. Prior to departure from the polling place, the precinct inspector and the designated ballot retrievers shall sign the form described in Subdivision (a)(4) above, and shall note the location the ballots were retrieved from and the time of departure.
      7. In no event shall a designated ballot retriever conduct unofficial business or make any unscheduled stops while in the possession of voted ballots.
      8. Upon arrival at the office of the county elections official, a ballot receiving center, a central counting place, or a ballot processing location, the designated ballot retrievers who retrieved the ballots shall note the time of arrival on the form described in Subdivision (a)(4) above. 
      9. The county elections official, or his or her designee, shall inspect the secure ballot container for evidence of tampering and shall receive the retrieved ballots by signing the retrieval form, and including the date and time of receipt. In the event tampering is evident, that fact shall be noted on the retrieval form.
      10. The completed retrieval form shall be attached to the outside of the secure ballot container used to transport the voted ballots retrieved from the polling place or maintained in a manner prescribed by the elections official that ensures that the form is traceable to its respective secure ballot container. 
      11. The precinct inspector and the elections official shall follow the procedures set forth in the Elections Code for the reconciliation of the ballots retrieved pursuant to this Article.
    2. The county elections official shall provide its early ballot retrieval collection and chain of custody procedures to the Secretary of State by the 30th day prior to an election in which ballots will be retrieved prior to the closing of the polls.

Note: Authority cited: Section 12172.5, Government Code; and Sections 10 and 14422, Elections Code. Reference: Section 14422, Elections Code; Article XX, Section3, California Constitution.

20144. Processing of Retrieved Ballots.

      1. All polling place ballots retrieved prior to the closing of the polls shall be processed in the same manner as ballots that are delivered to the office of the county elections official, a ballot receiving center, a central counting place, or a ballot processing location after the closing of the polls.
      2. All vote-by-mail ballots retrieved prior to the closing of the polls shall be processed in the same manner as vote-by-mail ballots personally delivered to the office of the county elections official by the voter, ballots returned to a polling location, and ballots received via the United States Postal Service or any other delivery service.

Note: Authority cited: Section 12172.5, Government Code; and Sections 10 and 14422, Elections Code. Reference: Section 14422, Elections Code.