VoteCal County Questions and Answers

1. Preface

While not necessarily complete, this page provides the current (as of October 21, 2015) responses to frequently asked questions that have been posed by counties throughout the VoteCal implementation at various times, including the VoteCal Solution Walkthrough and EMS Fit-Gap sessions, monthly webinars, CACEO subcommittee meetings and other VoteCal presentations.

This page may be updated at various times throughout the VoteCal implementation process, particularly after major milestones are completed. The VoteCal team encourages counties to submit additional questions directly to VoteCal or through the CACEO Business Process Committee (BPC) at any time.

The questions and answers below have been categorized by topic and are presented in separate sections of this page. Each section begins with a general overview of the VoteCal functionality relevant to each topic, which is followed by the questions and answers. Details to specific answers may be referenced to other documents that may be obtained from the SOS.  A listing of each section and their corresponding topics are presented at the end of this preface.

The BPC has been a huge asset in helping to define the questions and articulate the answers included on this page. The SOS appreciates the on-going support of the BPC.

 

 

List of Topics

 

Section

Topic

1

Preface

2

Introduction to VoteCal

3

Data Integration and Synchronization

4

Data Standardization

5

Deployment

6

Voter Registration

7

Address Changes and Updates

8

Elections Assistance Commission, National Voter Registration Act

9

List Maintenance

10

Matching Criteria

11

Merging and Unmerging of Duplicate Voter Records

12

Blackout Periods

13

Confidential Voters

14

Voter Registration Affidavits

15

County User Comments

16

Political Parties

17

Elections and Elections Management

18

Precincts and Districts

19

Vote-By-Mail

20

Provisional Ballots

21

Voter History

22

Mailings

23

Jury Wheel and Public Voter Registration Data Requests (PVRDR)

24

Public Access Website

 

2. Introduction To VoteCal

When completed in 2016, VoteCal will replace the current California voter registration database (CalVoter) and provide a single, uniform, centralized voter registration database that meets applicable Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15301, et seq.) requirements. VoteCal will become the official repository for the voter registration data (the system of record); however, counties will still provide updates and maintenance of the voter registration list by utilizing their existing Elections Management System (EMS), which will be connected to VoteCal.

Once VoteCal becomes the system of record, VoteCal will provide improved service to the voters of California through:

A Publicly Available Website

VoteCal will provide a website that will replace the existing website used by the public to register to vote (the California Online Voter Registration system, or COVR). The new website will allow access to the public portions of VoteCal to:

  • Apply to register to vote or update their voter registration record.
  • Look up information in their voter record, such as their precinct and polling place, political party preference, eligibility to vote in an upcoming election, voter participation history, and status as a permanent vote-by-mail or one-time mail ballot voter.
  • Opt in or out of the Voter Information Guide and request to receive the guide electronically.
  • Opt in or out of the county sample ballot and request to receive the county sample ballot electronically.
  • See if their vote-by-mail ballot was accepted by their county elections official and, if it wasn't, the reason why it was not.
  • See if their provisional ballot was counted by the county elections officials and, if it was not, the reason why it was not counted.

A Complete Index of Voter Registration Records

VoteCal will:

  • Store and maintain voter registration information for the voters of California in the 58 counties.
  • Allow for county elections officials to research a voter's registration, voter activity and voter participation history, store voter affidavit and signature images, and much more.

A Single Place for List Maintenance Functions

"List maintenance" is the process VoteCal uses to ensure the voter registration list is up-to-date and accurate. As part of list maintenance, VoteCal is designed to:

  • Check for duplicate registrations.
  • Check registration records to ensure voters have not been convicted of a crime that would preclude them from voting.
  • Check for deceased voters.

Local Elections Official Assistance

VoteCal will work with the county EMSs to help county elections officials set up and track their elections. VoteCal will be used to set up statewide elections and VoteCal will interact with the county EMSs to track election information, such as a voter’s eligibility to vote in an upcoming election, the voter’s districts and precincts, and the voter’s political party preference. VoteCal will also allow voters to opt in or out of receiving the voter information guide and county sample ballot.

Reports 

California law requires county elections officials and the SOS to produce a number of reports, including the Report of Registration (ROR) that breaks down California's registered voters into various categories. These public reports and many others will be produced through VoteCal.

Please forward any additional questions to Ken White, VoteCal Project Team, at ken.white@sos.ca.gov or (916) 869-8899.

3. Data Integration and Synchronization

When VoteCal is implemented, the official record for each California voter will be the VoteCal record. All voters will be considered state voters. To support this, voter registration data will be stored in two locations: 1) in VoteCal, which will be the official and central repository of all voter registration records for the SOS, and 2) in each of the county EMS databases, which will include the voter registration records for the voters who are registered to vote within their specific county. New records or modifications to existing records will be exchanged between VoteCal and the county EMS databases in near real time. Depending upon the workload in VoteCal, near real time transactions and exchanges will appear within seconds for the end user.

VoteCal will also include synchronization check functionality designed to identify any discrepancies between the voter registration records in VoteCal and the county EMSs so that the discrepancies can be analyzed and corrected by the county elections officials’ staff. Both the county and state staff will have the ability to request a sync check from within their user interface. While a synch check request is generated on demand by either the SOS or a county EMS administrator, most changes to voter data will be synchronized in near real time through the exchange of data between VoteCal and the county EMS databases.

3.1 How are changes to shared data kept in synch between the county EMS and VoteCal?

Changes between VoteCal and the county EMSs will be kept in synch by the exchange of messages between VoteCal and each county EMS. For example, if a county user makes an update to a voter registration record, the county EMS will send the update to VoteCal. Conversely, if VoteCal processes an update to a voter registration record, such as a high confidence address update from DMV, this information will be sent to the appropriate county EMS to make the corresponding update within the county EMS. Counties will process these changes in methods/timelines currently defined by each county business process.

VoteCal and the county EMSs will use a "synch check" function to detect out-of-sync data. When discrepancies are identified, county elections officials will be responsible for addressing and resolving any differences in the data. Messages for synchronization issues will appear in the VoteCal messaging area of the EMS. Examples of data which will be checked will include:

  • Voter registration data
  • Affidavit data (including current and historical signature and document images, the image file name, and image file creation and modification dates)
  • Precinct and political district data

3.2  How will district, polling place, Vote-By-Mail (VBM), and provisional ballot data be sent to VoteCal?

Districts and precincts will be uploaded to VoteCal continuously, in near real time. Polling place, VBM, and provisional ballot data will be uploaded to VoteCal either manually (through batch processing) everyday by the counties as each county completes their daily work, or the counties can set the upload to take place automatically, triggered by an addition or change to an individual record.

Counties should check with their EMS vendor to identify conditions specific to their system for how it handles the transfer of this data (automatic or manually) and how a county can turn off these functions for internal testing or redistricting as well as the time periods.

Voters can access their districts, polling place, VBM status, and the status of their provisional ballots through the public access website. Please refer to Section 24 - Public Access Website for questions related to the public access website.

3.3 When data is updated in the counties and these updates are sent to VoteCal, what happens to data in the county databases? For example, when information is sent up to VoteCal, does it continue to reside in the county EMS as well?

Data in county databases that is sent to VoteCal will continue to reside in the county database. The county EMSs are being modified (remediated) to support VoteCal functionality in addition to existing county EMS functionality, which will include sending county data to VoteCal.

VoteCal and the county EMSs will use a "synch check" function to detect and report out-of-sync conditions between VoteCal and the county EMS data (see Question 3.1). County elections officials will be responsible for addressing and resolving any differences in the data.

3.4  Can the VoteCal project provide a list of the data fields that are considered VoteCal versus county data?

All voter registration data in VoteCal will be entered and maintained by counties through their EMS. The VoteCal project team maintains documentation on all the data elements that will be included in VoteCal. Copies of this documentation may be obtained by contacting the VoteCal project team.

3.5 For what purpose is data being used that is sent to VoteCal but not displayed on the public access website (such as Vote-By-Mail issuance and receipt dates)?

VoteCal will capture many data elements from the counties that are not displayed on the public access website. These data elements are included in VoteCal and are available to counties as part of the voter record as a voter moves from county to county for the generation of reports and to provide VoteCal with a complete record of the voter registration data. Voters accessing their information on the public access website will be limited to the most current data. Please see Section 24 - Public Access Website for more information on the public access website.

3.6 DMV data for address changes (DMV/COA) comes from two different DMV databases (licenses and registration). These occasionally don't match so there is potential that inaccurate data may be sent to VoteCal causing erroneous moves from one county to another. How can that be fixed and/or what checks can be put in place before VoteCal accepts the DMV change?

VoteCal will use the same interface data that is received from the DMV today; this interface does not distinguish between the sources of the data at DMV. VoteCal will process the DMV/COA data using the VoteCal’s matching criteria that distinguishes between high confidence and potential matches. Since potential matches will require county validation before they are processed by VoteCal, the chance of an erroneous move from one county to another is reduced.

3.7 For DMV/COA transactions that are automated, can VoteCal be configured so that non-matches can be sent back to the SOS without county review?

VoteCal will not differ from the current process; non-matches, including potential matches will be sent to the counties for review.

4. Data Standardization

Standard and consistent data elements will be included in both VoteCal and each county EMS. The data standards have been defined by the VoteCal project team, SOS, and county EMS vendors. The data standards have also been provided to the counties for review and feedback. The VoteCal project team maintains documentation on all the data elements that will be included in VoteCal. Copies of this documentation may be obtained by contacting the VoteCal project team.

4.1 Will data standardization be performed using National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards?

The VoteCal standard values reviewed with by the SOS and county election officials use United States Postal Service (USPS) address field standards, along with ISO standard country codes. The details of the specific values used by VoteCal can be obtained by contacting the VoteCal project team.

4.2 What special characters and non-Latin alphabets are supported in VoteCal?

The VoteCal project team has a list of the special characters and non-Latin alphabets that will be supported by VoteCal. The list is based on the Microsoft Windows 1252 character set and will be made available to county elections officials upon request.

4.3  What fields are required to be standardized?

The VoteCal project team has a list of all standard fields and code values. This list has been reviewed by the pilot counties and the BPC, and can be obtained by contacting the VoteCal project team.

Each county will receive a data readiness tool from their respective EMS to help identify discrepancies in their existing county data where they deviate from the VoteCal standard. Each EMS vendor will assist their respective counties in using their data readiness tool and with preparing their data for VoteCal.

5. Deployment

VoteCal will be implemented in California’s 58 county elections offices in a series of waves beginning with a pilot wave in July 2015 with the final wave scheduled to be completed in March 2016. After the final county elections office is transitioned to VoteCal, the SOS will evaluate and certify VoteCal as the official system of record for voter registration in California. The SOS expects to certify VoteCal as the system of record by June 2016.

5.1 Why is VoteCal being implemented during a presidential election year?

The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), enacted in 2002, requires all states to establish a single system of record for voter registration information. After previous attempts to meet this requirement were not completed, the California State Legislature and the United States Department of Justice directed the SOS to meet this requirement immediately.

5.2 What contingencies are in place to guard against disruptions to county elections operations due to the VoteCal implementation?

The SOS and VoteCal project team are taking several steps to help ensure a successful implementation:

  • VoteCal has been designed to allow counties to continue using their existing county EMS to interact with VoteCal. Although some changes to the county EMS will be made so that the county EMS integrates effectively with VoteCal, this approach reduces the county “learning curve” and business process changes that would occur if an entirely new county system was implemented.
  • The VoteCal deployment schedule includes a pilot and a pilot evaluation period where identified issues can be assessed and addressed prior to starting the deployment waves.
  • County elections staff will be trained to use the modified functionality of their county EMS. They will also be trained on any new or modified business processes associated with the VoteCal implementation.
  • As part of the deployment process, the VoteCal project team will work with the counties prior to their deployment date to prepare them for deployment and to assess their readiness to transition to VoteCal. This process, which will begin from approximately three to six months (depending on the size of the county) prior to county deployment, is designed to identify and address potential issues or concerns prior to deployment.
  • CalVoter will remain the official system of record and will remain operational throughout the VoteCal implementation until the SOS certifies VoteCal as the system of record.

5.3 When will the EMS vendors work with counties on third-party applications?

Each county will be given a specific timeline of tasks necessary for the implementation of VoteCal during their wave rollout. These timelines will be shared in the VoteCal Implementation Orientation Sessions which will be conducted with counties at least 90 days prior to their wave implementation date. Counties may also contact their EMS vendor at any time to obtain information on the changes to their EMS which may impact third-party applications.

5.4 Will VoteCal require counties to upgrade their technology infrastructure prior to implementation?

No, VoteCal does not require counties to upgrade their technology infrastructure. Each county will utilize their existing EMS to communicate with VoteCal.

Some counties may have had a previous need (or plan) to upgrade their infrastructure in order to stay current with the technical requirements of their EMS. These requirements are tied to their EMS and are independent of VoteCal. Counties should continue working with their EMS to complete these previously planned upgrades.

Due to EMS design changes, counties are encouraged to contact their EMS vendors to identify possible changes to servers, workstations and network infrastructure to ensure they meet minimum EMS standards.

5.5 What security is in place regarding county connectivity to VoteCal?

The county EMS will be connected to VoteCal using the secured router and communication line that currently connects each county to CalVoter for the exchange of CalVoter batch files. The EMS vendors will work with each county to establish the connection between the EMS and VoteCal.

5.6  What impact will VoteCal have on our EMS Versions?

Currently, EMS vendors release versions throughout the year as necessary to address bugs, requests, or legislative changes. Counties have the ability to implement that new version or wait to release the version depending upon the needs of the county. When the EMSs make changes to their applications which involve VoteCal functionality, the EMS versions must first be tested by the EMS vendors to ensure that only the changes identified for the release have been addressed, and that no other modules were modified unintentionally. VoteCal will require all counties to operate on the currently released EMS Version.

6. Voter Registration

VoteCal will be used to process new and updated voter registrations. The registration process can be initiated by the county through their county EMS or by online voter registration through the VoteCal public access website. VoteCal will perform near real time validations of the voter registration record after it is submitted by the registrant (e.g. DMV identification verification (IDV), duplicate check, death, felons) and notify counties of the registration and status through their county EMS. Voters may also receive information on their registration status through the public access website.

The VoteCal team will continue to work with the BPC to review future business process changes in anticipation of Conditional Voter Registration (CVR). This section addresses voter registration questions as they would be answered prior to the implementation of CVR.

6.1 When performing voter registration and associated validation in VoteCal, what is the status of a voter registration record that has not yet completed all of the validations (DMV IDV, duplicate check, death, felon, etc.)?

DMV IDV will take place in near real time for data entry operators including front counter staff. Under this scenario, all registrants entered by county elections officials into VoteCal are considered “Active”. The voter record will be noted if the registrant fails IDV, however the status will not change. Registrants may be placed in “Pending” status if information on their voter registration form is missing or inaccurate (such as use of a business address as a residence address, or non-existent/erroneous residential addresses).

All pre-registrants (

6.2 If a validation fails for a voter through the public access website, what is the status of the record, and what communication goes back to the voter or to the county user inputting the information into the county EMS? Is the data entry/validation process any different for counter workers?

The data entry/validation process is the same for registrants using the public access website and for counter workers entering registration data on behalf of the registrant. If a voter registration record fails a validation when the user is entering the information through the public access website or through the EMS, the user will not be able to save the data and submit the record. Anyone entering registration data will have the ability to correct validation errors and resubmit the voter record. 

Once the registration data is accepted, the record will undergo IDV and the VoteCal validations (duplicate, felon, deceased). The voter record will be noted if the individual fails IDV, but the voter will remain active. Matches for duplicates, felons, or deceased voters will be processed in accordance with the business rules for each validation (refer to Section 10:  Matching Criteria).

6.3 How will counties move a voter registration record to another county if it was incorrectly associated with the wrong county?

If a receiving county determines that it has received a voter in error, the receiving county must contact the county that it believes is the correct county for the voter.  If the counties agree, the correct county may use their EMS to request that the original receiving county transfer the voter to them. The record will be transferred when the original receiving county agrees to send it.

6.4 What happens with under-age voters who move from one California county to another? Is their registration eligibility re-checked when they move to the new county?

Underage registrants who move from one California county to another are eligible to vote in the new county if they are 18 by the time of the next election in that county. Once a county enters an active voter record, it is eligible to be moved to another county regardless of date of birth. It is the responsibility of the county EMS to prevent an underage registrant from participating in an election if they are not qualified to vote. The county EMS will flag incoming underage registrants so that users can determine the next appropriate action. Registration eligibility must be re-checked for the under-age registrant who moved to a new California county by the receiving county in the same manner as any registrant’s eligibility is checked today. VoteCal will place the registrant in pending status and the county will determine their eligibility to vote.

6.5 Do voters need to re-register when moving from one California county to another?

VoteCal will comply with Elections Code sections 2120 and 2225(c) regarding the re-registration of voters. This will not cause a change in business processes.

However, if the voter’s address is changed in VoteCal due to a match with the Department of Motor Vehicle change of address (DMV/COA) data, the voter will not be required to re-register.

VoteCal will use the following approaches to address these requirements:

  • Address changes received from the DMV will be evaluated by VoteCal. If these are returned as a “high confidence match”, the voter will be automatically copied to the new county and the existing record will be canceled in the old county. Potential matches will need county intervention to take action on the records.
  • Confidential voters will always be treated as if they are potential matches, requiring county intervention, regardless of the source. In these circumstances, the record will be copied to the county users in the potential destination county for review. If the county accepts the move, then the voter will be copied to the new county and canceled in the old county.
  • VoteCal will not automatically change the voter’s record based on National Change of Address (NCOA) data. NCOA records are considered a resource and are treated similarly to potential matches. Matches with NCOA records will be sent to the county users for verification. If the county accepts the move, the voter will be copied to the new county and canceled in the old county.
  • If a voter re-registers in the new county, the voter record will be evaluated for a duplicate match with an existing record. If a high confidence match is found, the registration record will be moved automatically (unless the voter is a confidential voter which as noted above will be treated as a potential match). If a potential match is found, the record will be sent to the destination county for review. Whenever a match is found, the information supplied with the new registration takes precedence as the most current and the new registration becomes the voter registration of record.

7. Address Changes and Updates

Voter address changes occur frequently throughout the state. A voter may change within county or between counties and notify ROV offices through various means. For the most part, business processes related to address changes and updates are not impacted by VoteCal. The procedures for sending notification cards and processing potential matches will be similar to how counties currently operate. The following section highlights areas where the process will be different with VoteCal.

VoteCal will process voter registration address changes through the use of Department of Motor Vehicles change of address (DMV/COA) and National Change of Address (NCOA) address change data and matching criteria established by the Secretary of State. VoteCal processes these transactions differently, depending on whether the source of the address change is DMV/COA or NCOA.

DMV/COA data will be sent to the counties in near real time. If DMV/COA is the source of the matching data - and if there is a “high confidence” match between a change of address transaction and an existing voter record - VoteCal will automatically update the existing voter registration record with the new DMV/COA data. If (according to the matching criteria) there is a “potential” match between a DMV/COA change of address transaction and an existing voter record, VoteCal will send a message to the county EMS requesting the county to verify the potential change of address. Counties will use their EMS to notify VoteCal whether the change of address is valid. If the address is valid, VoteCal will update the voter registration data with the new address information. If a county determines that the potential match is not valid, VoteCal will not update the voter registration record, and counties will utilize existing practices to contact the voter. Information on these changes will be accessible through the EMS and by EMS provided reports.

NCOA matching data will be sent to counties monthly. VoteCal will not automatically update a voter’s record based on NCOA match data. Instead, VoteCal will send a message to the county EMS requesting the county to verify the potential change of address. Counties will use their EMS to notify VoteCal whether the change of address is valid. If the address is valid, VoteCal will update the voter registration data with the new address information. If a county determines that the potential match is not valid, VoteCal will not update the voter registration record.

NCOA data will not be sent to counties within 90 days of a federal election, which is consistent with current practices.

VoteCal will continue to work with the BPC to review business process changes related to address changes and updates throughout the VoteCal project.

7.1 What is a “high confidence” match?

Please see Question 10.1 for a definition of a high confidence match.

7.2 What is a “potential match”?

Please see Question 10.2 for a definition of a potential match.

7.3 When a voter moves from one California county to another, which county needs to confirm the DMV/COA or NCOA? Do both counties need to accept the transfer, or only the receiving county?

The receiving county will confirm that the address of the DMV/COA or NCOA record is within its county and that the address can be placed in a precinct. The voter record will be maintained at the original address (in the originating county) until this final determination is made by the receiving county. When the receiving county accepts the new address, VoteCal will send a message to the EMS of the originating county of record to cancel the previous voter record. The record will stay active until the county takes action on the record. Counties will use similar business processes as they do today to manually review these records and take action on them.

All history will be copied with the record to the receiving county. Additionally, this history will remain in the originating county similar to currently cancelled records. If a voter moves back to the original county, (second move), the cancelled record will become active and any new information will be brought in with the VoteCal record.

Images associated with the voter will be available to the county through the county EMS. 

7.4 When data is updated at the county level and these updates are sent to VoteCal, what happens to data in the county database? For example, when information is sent up to VoteCal, does it continue to reside in the county database as well?

VoteCal will serve as the single, statewide repository of voter registration data in California. Voter registration data for voters in a specific county are stored in the county’s EMS (this includes Active, Inactive, Pending, and Canceled records). A county can access VoteCal to search and view voter registration data for their county and other counties. When voter registration data is updated at the county, updates will be sent to VoteCal. Updates to voter registration data in VoteCal will also be sent to the county. This update process ensures synchronization between VoteCal and the county EMS. Counties may use their EMS to access VoteCal to view voter data for their county and other California counties. See Section 3 – Data Integration and Synchronization for additional information on data synchronization.

7.5 When does residence address verification occur in VoteCal for voter registration and list maintenance activities?

When the county elections official verifies a voter’s residence address using street address and precinct data in the county EMS, the county EMS sends the verified residence address to VoteCal. VoteCal accepts any residence address provided by the county elections officials as long as the voter’s residence address meets VoteCal business rules for the format of the residence address data (including rules that require a zip code to contain numeric values, and street type information which meets the VoteCal data standards). If a formatting error occurs for a voter’s residence address, VoteCal will alert the county of the formatting error through the EMS messaging dashboard.

7.6 What address verification is done by the county?

The purpose of address verification is to ensure voters are registered within the correct precinct based on accurate residence address information. This process to verify residence address and assign precincts to voters will remain a county-owned function. Each county will continue to perform address verification, and will continue to verify the voter's address against the street address and precinct data using the same business rules and processes in place prior to the launch of VoteCal.

7.7 What address validation is done by VoteCal?

Address validation will be completed by VoteCal to ensure compliance with VoteCal code values. VoteCal will perform basic address validations of the format of address data, such as confirming that the address contains a valid country, a valid State code if applicable, or that the zip code is properly formatted. These validations are also performed when an individual registers on-line. A list of the codes used by VoteCal may be obtained by contacting the VoteCal project team.

7.8 When is address validation done for new or updated records?

VoteCal will perform the basic validations of the format of address data in near real time, when each county EMS interacts with VoteCal or when a voter attempts to register on-line. Address errors will be reported back to the county EMS, typically within seconds, through VoteCal’s messaging system and will appear to the county via the EMS. Any follow up activities required to validate the address will be performed by counties using their EMS.

7.9 Will VoteCal be compliant with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requirements for notifications and processing of cross-county voter moves?

Yes, VoteCal will be compliant with NVRA requirements. There will be no changes to the existing NVRA process after VoteCal is implemented. VoteCal does not automatically process cross-county voter moves based on National Change of Address (NCOA) data. Instead, VoteCal sends a message to the county EMS, notifying the county elections officials to take the appropriate action. The county elections officials will use their EMS to accept the address change and designate which NVRA compliant mailing to print and mail to the voter.

DMV/COA updates will be automatically processed by VoteCal if they are high confidence matches with an existing voter record. These records will have their address records automatically updated in VoteCal. Counties will be notified of the changes through their EMS messaging system:

  • If the updated address is in a different California county, the old record will be cancelled and the voter will be registered in the new county.
  • If the updated address is in the same county, the updated address will be updated in VoteCal and then sent to the appropriate county EMS.

For a DMV/COA update that is a potential match with an existing voter record, the record will be sent to the appropriate county for verification and the voter record will be updated or not updated with the change of address.

The county EMSs will determine the precinct for the voter record and will send this information back to VoteCal. No user intervention will be required to process these records.

7.10 Will counties be able to use the Address Change Service (ACS) to validate address changes? Will this still be a county process or will this functionality be included in VoteCal?

County elections officials may continue to use the ACS process through their EMS, as they currently use it today. This functionality will be maintained within the EMS.

7.11 Are changes of address made automatically or will counties need confirmation from the voter before making the change??

The process for address changes will be similar to current processes. When a voter’s address information is updated — whether through the VoteCal public access website by the registered voter, by an EMS user at a county elections office, by DMV/COA data, or through the NCOA process — the revised address information will be uploaded to VoteCal in near real time. Any change in address information will trigger the generation of the appropriate related notice by the county elections office.

The VoteCal project team will continue to work with the BPC to review business process changes related to mailing notices throughout the VoteCal project.

7.12 How many address lines for out-of-country mailing addresses will VoteCal provide?

Counties will enter and update addresses through their EMS. Each EMS will provide three address lines plus a fourth line that that will be dedicated to the country to use with foreign addresses.

8. Elections Assistance Commission, National Voter Registration Act

Counties are currently required to generate Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) and National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) reports on a regular basis.

8.1 Will counties continue to be required to generate Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) and monthly National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) reports after VoteCal has been implemented?

Yes, counties will continue to be required to generate the EAC and NVRA reports. County processes for generating these reports will remain unchanged after VoteCal is implemented. VoteCal will continue to work with the BPC to identify desirable changes after the implementation of VoteCal.

9. List Maintenance

Currently, each county elections officials individually processes duplicate, felon, and deceased voter records for the voters in their counties. County elections officials also conduct various list maintenance activities such as the processing of Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and National Change of Address (NCOA) address changes and other changes (e.g. cancelled voters, inactivating voters) allowed by law. The timing and processes for these activities varies in accordance with procedures in each individual county.

VoteCal will automate and standardize many list maintenance processes. Duplicate and deceased voter records which are considered “high confidence” matches with existing voter records will be automatically processed in near real time. Counties will utilize their county EMS messaging dashboard to verify “potential” matches passed down from VoteCal. Refer to Section 10 – Matching Criteria for more information on the matching criteria used by VoteCal.

All matches for felon records—which will also be identified in near real time—will be treated as “potential” matches. These records will be sent to counties for validation before they are processed by VoteCal. Counties will process these records through their EMS messaging system which will essentially replace the manual ‘list’ process received from CalVoter.

9.1 Who is responsible for list maintenance data entry and processing?

Counties will still be responsible for list maintenance and voter registration data entry and processing through their county EMS. Registrants will also be able to submit voter registration data through the VoteCal public access website. VoteCal and the county EMSs will exchange data in near real time and VoteCal will process the data and determine high confidence or potential matches as the data is entered into the system.

Single high confidence matches will be automatically applied. Any required review and acceptance of other matches will be performed by the counties through their EMS.

VoteCal administrators (SOS employees) will have the ability to perform un-match/un-merge functions in the event these transactions are later determined to be erroneous. These transactions will be coordinated with the impacted county/counties. Counties can initiate the un-match/un-merge process by contacting the VoteCal Helpdesk. See Section 11 – Merging and Unmerging of Duplicate Voter Records for additional details on the un-match/un-merge process in VoteCal.

9.2 Can county users manually validate DMV ID Verification (IDV), felon, death, or other validations and update or override the results via their county EMS? Can this information then be passed back to VoteCal?

Counties cannot manually request VoteCal to perform a DMV IDV on an individual voter record. However, VoteCal will automatically perform a DMV IDV on a voter record whenever specific fields (name, birthday, SSN4, or driver’s license number) in the voter record are created or modified, including when modifications are made to voter records by counties through their EMS.

Counties will be able to use their EMS to manually cancel a voter record if they validate that the voter is a felon or deceased. The county EMSs will update VoteCal with the cancellation information.

Counties that currently utilize the “DMV Interface” will still have access to it for manual validations. CalValidator will also be available after the certification of VoteCal.

10. Matching Criteria

VoteCal will compare voter registration records to data received from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to conduct near real time checks of voter registration records for duplicates, felons, deceased voters, and change of addresses. VoteCal will use matching criteria developed by the SOS to determine whether there is a “high confidence” match or a “potential” match for these records. VoteCal will then take one of the following actions based on the type of match (duplicate, felon, deceased, or change of address) and the source of the matching data (CDCR, CDPH, DMV):

  • VoteCal will automatically update the voter record when single high confidence matches) for duplicates, deceased voters, or DMV change of addresses occur (DMV/COA).
  • VoteCal will notify counties of potential matches for duplicates, deceased voters, or DMV/COA’s through their county EMS. After validating whether or not a match exists, counties will notify VoteCal through their county EMS and VoteCal will process the record as appropriate.
  • All matches of felon records will be treated as potential matches for county validation.
  • All duplicate and DMV/COA matches for confidential voters will be treated as potential matches that will require county validation.

In addition to the DMV/COA data, VoteCal will process data from the National Change of Address (NCOA) system to counties through their EMS to identify potential voter address changes. All matches with NCOA data will be considered potential matches. Counties will be notified of the potential match through their county EMS, and counties will be requested to validate the address change. VoteCal will be updated with the new address if it is verified by the county. Counties will use existing business processes and timelines to complete this verification/processing of records.  Additional information on NCOA data is addressed in Section 7 – Address Changes and Updates.

VoteCal will include functionality to prevent future matches between records that have already identified as non-matches so that counties will not have to conduct repeat work on these records.

10.1 What is the definition of a “high confidence” match?

The SOS has determined the fields and thresholds for designating high confidence matches. Counties may obtain detailed information on the matching criteria by contacting the VoteCal project team. In summary, a high confidence match occurs when certain combinations of data elements in the voter record exactly match the same data elements in records received for duplicate, deceased voter, or DMV/COA’s. The data elements included in the criteria for high confidence matches include:

  • California driver’s license or identification card number
  • Last four digits of an individual’s social security number (SSN4)
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth

All single high confidence matches for duplicate, deceased voter, or address changes will trigger automatic updates in VoteCal. Counties will be notified of the match through their county EMS messaging dashboard. Counties may review the match and use their county EMS to reverse the match at their discretion. When this occurs, the match will be reversed in VoteCal and messages sent to the appropriate counties related to the voter.

VoteCal will launch using a conservative approach to high-confidence matches based on information received by other states, review of the pilot county data, and information from the BPC. One example of a high confidence match would be exactly two voters with the same California Driver’s License/State ID, and Last 4 of SSN. If a single match (exactly two voters) is found in VoteCal, these records would be automatically merged. Both counties would be notified of the merge, and this can be undone if errors are found.

The BPC will continue to work with VoteCal to study the impact of high confidence matches and suggest adjustments as necessary to improve the county experience with VoteCal.

All matches of felon records will be considered potential matches which will be sent to the county through the county EMS for verification. This decision was reached through discussions with the BPPC who felt that due to the sensitivity of the information that county interaction should be required.

10.2 What is the definition of a “potential” match?

The SOS has determined the fields and thresholds for designating potential matches. Counties may obtain detailed information on the matching criteria by contacting the VoteCal project team. In summary, a potential match occurs if certain combinations of the data elements in the voter record partially match the same data elements in records received for duplicate, felon, deceased voter, or DMV/COA’s. The data elements included in the criteria for potential matches includes:

  • California driver’s license or identification card number
  • Last four digits of an individual’s social security number (SSN4)
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth (used for duplicate voter matches only)
  • Middle name (used for duplicate voter matches only)
  • Suffix (used for duplicate voter matches only)

Counties will be notified of the potential match through their county EMS. The county will use their EMS to review the matching data and determine whether or not an actual match has occurred. Counties will enter the results in their county EMS, which will then update VoteCal.

All matches with NCOA data will be considered potential matches. Counties will be notified of the potential match through their county EMS, and counties will be requested to validate the address change. VoteCal will be updated with the new address if it is verified by the county. Refer to Section 7 – Address Changes and Updates for additional information on NCOA changes/updates.

10.3 Will the same criteria be used for felon, death, duplicate, etc.?

No, different criteria are used for felon, death, and duplicate voters. Counties may obtain detailed information on the matching criteria by contacting the VoteCal project team.

10.4 Are the criteria for a high confidence match adjustable at a county level?

The matching criteria are established statewide, and will be applied uniformly to all counties. The criteria are not adjustable by individual counties.

10.5 Will there be a standard set of reason codes that the counties will use to record why a potential match was rejected by the county?

Yes, a list of reason codes will be available in the county EMSs. The reason codes will be sent to VoteCal when the potential match is rejected by the county.

11. Merging and Unmerging of Duplicate Voter Records

If a county or the SOS determines that two voter records have been erroneously merged into one because they were believed to be duplicate records, VoteCal will provide counties and the SOS with the ability to correct the mistake by “unmerging” the voter records. This process will mostly be the same for in-county merges as well as cross-county merges. Counties can define through EMS rules which user accounts have access to the unmerging process.

11.1 How will the automatic duplicate detection process work? Will county users have the ability to modify the criteria that is used to determine potential and high confidence matches?

The automatic duplicate detection process will compare new and modified voter registration records against existing voter records in VoteCal (which includes Active, Pending, Inactive and Cancelled records) This process will use matching criteria established and configured by the SOS to determine the match and the confidence level of the match:

  • A single high-confidence match will occur when the match meets or exceeds the high-confidence threshold.
  • A potential match will occur when:
    • More than one high-confidence match exists.
    • One or more matches at or above the minimum confidence level exists.
    • Either one of the matched records is a confidential record.

The minimum and high-confidence thresholds have been established and will be configured by VoteCal administrators at the SOS. The same criteria and thresholds will be used across all counties. Counties will process the results of matches using processes established by the county.

11.2 How will VoteCal use registration dates and participation history to resolve duplicate voter records?

County elections officials will determine the voter registration date under VoteCal in the same way the determination is made today. VoteCal will use the registration date as entered by the county to determine which voter record is canceled whenever a match is made. Before automatically applying high confidence match processing to duplicate records, VoteCal will check voting participation history on the older registration record. If the older record indicates voting activity in an election after the date of registration in the newer record, the match will not be applied automatically. In this case, VoteCal will send a message to the appropriate county/counties requesting them to select the record that should be maintained for the voter.

11.3 If a county has received a voter, but it is later retracted by the original county, how does the receiving county get notified, and who has to prove the situation? Does the full history of both records get merged together, or does some part get lost?

Whenever VoteCal matches and merges two records into one record, the county or counties will be notified. If the match/merge needs to be undone, the new county (where the active voter registration record resides) will perform this action. If the old county (where the record has been cancelled and merged to the new county) determines that the merge has been performed in error, they must contact the new county or the VoteCal Help Desk to request that it be undone.

Whenever the county elections official unmerges a voter record, VoteCal will notify the county or counties of the unmerged voter records. The full history of merged voter records will be retained by VoteCal without any loss in data. (NOTE: A merged voter record might contain post-merge voter activity or participation history. If this is the case, when the merged record is unmerged, VoteCal will send a message to the county or counties. The message from VoteCal will contain information about the post-merge activities and it will be up to the county or counties to manually re-enter the appropriate post-merge activities using their county EMS. There may be times when the counties need to communicate with each other to discuss the details of an unmerge).

The BPC will continue to work with VoteCal to study the impact of unmerging and suggest adjustments as necessary to improve the county experience with VoteCal.

12. Blackout Periods

A “Blackout period” is essentially a period of time where no changes are made to county voter registration records. Counties currently will typically hold blackout periods on voter registration records after they have processed all valid registrations received prior to the registration cut-off through the period of the canvass of the election. CalVoter supports a blackout period as well.

In VoteCal, the blackout period on voter registration will not exist except as identified below. VoteCal determines voter eligibility in near real-time and some processes will be automated. This discussion will identify processes that counties need to identify pre-election and post-election to deal with registration changes taking place in VoteCal.

The VoteCal team will continue to work with the BPC to identify additional scenarios and the proper resolution. This work will continue on to anticipate changes needed with CVR and other legislative directives. Moreover, the BPC is considering whether or not blackout periods should continue after VoteCal is implemented. It is therefore important to note that the content of this subsection may change based on the outcome of these discussions and the recommended practices.

12.1 Will blackout periods for voter registration still occur? If so, who sets the date?

Except as identified below, VoteCal will not have blackout periods. Since voter eligibility will be determined from data received in “near real time” and will not require a blackout period. VoteCal has confirmed with the EMS Vendors that election “extracts” still occur which will be used to create the official list (rosters). Once the extract is created, reports and most election related details will be run from the extract, separate from the voter registration file.

Counties will still be required to process supplemental extracts and be aware of additional updates necessary to comply with EC2203(d) to remove cancelled voters from rosters.

12.2 Pre-Election Issues – NCOA Blackout: Will there be any blackout period where National Change of Address (NCOA) records will not be processed by VoteCal and sent to the counties (as there is today with CalVoter)? Will counties have control over whether NCOA processing is "turned on” or “turned off” for their county?

As described in EC 2225 and 2226, NCOA records are not processed within 90 days of a Federal or Statewide election and for 30 days following an election. For VoteCal, the blackout period for NCOA will continue once VoteCal becomes the system of record, which is anticipated to occur in June 2016.

12.3 Post-Election Issues –Will there be any blackout period after the election to prevent changes during the canvass? How will this impact Provisional processing?

Outside of the NCOA processing identified above, no additional blackout period will exist. VoteCal has confirmed with the EMS vendors that history can be added to a voter even if a change has occurred causing the record to be cancelled.

12.4 What is the impact on the petition checking process to verify signatures if records are constantly moving?

We don’t think there will be any impact on the petition checking process. Counties will still have records for voters in their local EMS. Additional work may be necessary to review voters whose records have been cancelled locally.

13. Confidential Voters

Certain California voters may by law have their voter registration information kept confidential. These include individuals who are confidential voters through a court order, inclusion in the Safe At Home program, or who are public safety officers for those counties who have a program approved by the County Board of Supervisors. These voters are considered vote-by-mail voters for all subsequent elections while they have confidential voter status.

Because of the confidential status of these voters and their voter registration information, many counties utilize separate, manual procedures to process and maintain confidential voter registration information. When VoteCal is implemented, counties will enter confidential voter registration information into VoteCal using the county EMS. The confidential information will be tracked, managed, and protected, both locally through the county EMS and within VoteCal.

Recently, BPC proposed legislation to ensure that confidential voters will not be included in any public voter file (PVRDR) to maintain confidentiality and security.

13.1 Will confidential voters be displayed in the search results of a statewide search of registered voters? 

Yes, confidential voter records will be returned to the county EMS during a statewide search of VoteCal, based on EMS security rules for end users However:

  • If the county performing the statewide search is not the county of record for the confidential voter, the confidential information which is in the confidential voter record will be displayed as masked data to the user.
  • If the county performing the statewide search is the county of record for the confidential voter, the confidential information will only be displayed to those users within the county who are authorized to see the confidential data. The confidential data will not be displayed to users who are not authorized to see it.

County EMS systems must authorize users based on permissions to search for and display confidential voters. Additional security steps are available to require users to enter a password to display the confidential information.

13.2 When a confidential voter moves from one California county to another, will their confidential status move with them or will they lose confidential status and need to re-apply?

In VoteCal, when a confidential voter re-registers, it will only be detected as a potential match. See Section 10 for match criteria definitions. Additionally, most confidential voters will re-register in-person at the county office. However, when a registered confidential voter moves from one California county to the other, the voter’s confidential registration status will remain unchanged. The receiving county may need to validate and update the voter’s confidential status based on any county-specific policies/procedures for confidential voters. If not re-registering in-person, the county may need to contact the voter to explain the confidential process for the specific county.

Images associated with the confidential voter will either be copied to the county’s EMS database or accessed in VoteCal through the county EMS (depending on the EMS and the image).

13.3 When a confidential voter moves from one California county to another, will the confidential voter’s registration data be moved automatically, or will their voter registration record be canceled, requiring them to re-register?

VoteCal will hold the voter’s record in both counties until manual processing can take place. Once the receiving county accepts the record and performs the appropriate county application/process for confidential voters, VoteCal will cancel the record in the old county. In some cases, the confidential voter will not be required to re-register and the status will follow the voter details into the new county. In most cases, manual intervention will be necessary to ensure necessary forms, applications, and details are followed per county procedures for confidential voters.

13.4 If any confidential data is used for issuing a Vote-By-Mail (VBM) ballot to a confidential voter, what is the process for protecting this confidential data?

To protect a voter’s confidential data, VoteCal and the county EMS will not include a voter’s confidential data in any screen, index, list, or reports that are necessary for issuing or returning a VBM ballot. VoteCal has verified and tested that Confidential voters will not appear on printed rosters, walking lists, or street index’s.

13.5 What is the process for confidential voters whose status will expire? Will this be done automatically, or will this be a manual process by the county?

Under current statutes, the confidential voter status of individuals who are public safety officers expires after two years. Accordingly, VoteCal will automatically remove the confidential status from these voters after the two year period. 60 days prior to the expiration date, counties will receive a message from VoteCal through their EMS informing them that the confidential status of a voter is set to expire. The BPC recommends that counties follow up with the voter after receiving this message. Counties will be able to use their EMS to reapply the confidential status to the voter if the voter renews it.

VoteCal will not automatically remove the confidential status of individuals who are confidential voters by court order or through the Safe At Home program, since there are no set expiration dates for the confidential status of these individuals. Counties will be able to change the confidential status of these individuals through their county EMS.

13.6 What data fields are protected for confidential voters? Which fields are not considered confidential?

Elections Code sections 2166, 2166.5, and 2166.7 specify those fields that are considered confidential and cannot be disclosed in the extracts. Those fields are:

  • Residence address
  • Telephone number
  • E-mail address

Conversely, fields not identified by the Elections Code sections above are not considered confidential.

13.7 Will confidential voters be displayed on public voter registration data request reports of registered voters?

Counties may generate a public voter registration data request report through their EMS. When the report is generated, authorized county users can select whether or not to include confidential voters in the extract. The default option is to exclude confidential voters.

If counties decide to include confidential voters in the data, only the confidential voter’s name and mailing address is included. The confidential voter’s residential address, phone numbers, and email address will always be excluded from the data.

Recently, the BPC proposed legislation to ensure that confidential voters will not be included in any public voter file (PVRDR) to maintain security and confidentiality. This page will be updated to reflect the outcome of that legislative change.

14. Voter Registration Affidavits

VoteCal will provide the ability to track issued voter registration affidavits statewide. Counties will be able to access this functionality through their county EMS.

14.1 Will counties be able to track and view blank voter registration affidavits that have been issued statewide?

Yes. VoteCal will track blank affidavits issued by the county elections officials and SOS. County elections officials and users will be able to search by a range of affidavit numbers or for affidavits issued to a particular organization. Searches can be within their county or throughout the state.

14.2 Will counties be able to view statistics about the affidavits that have been returned?

Yes. County elections officials and users will be able to review statistics through reports provided by their EMS.

15. County User Comments

Each county EMS includes a “remarks” or “comments” field which allows county users to add free form text comments to voter registration records. These comments will be passed to VoteCal through the county EMS.

15.1 Currently, some counties use the remarks field in their county EMS for county-specific comments which may not be relevant to other counties. Some counties may prefer to keep the comments in this field local. Can VoteCal and the EMS create a separate "system" remarks field to be shared with other counties and a separate “county” remarks field not to be shared with other counties?

Both EMS vendors will provide a VoteCal (statewide) comments field as well as local (county) comments field so that the county user can choose between a local or statewide audience for their remarks. If a voter moves to a different county, only the VoteCal statewide comments will be included in the voter record.

All existing comments will be converted as county comments when VoteCal is implemented in each county.

16. Political Parties

VoteCal will store a voter’s political party preference as part of the voter registration record.

16.1 How will political parties be standardized/synchronized across county EMS systems and VoteCal? Which political parties will be stored in VoteCal and synchronized down to the county EMS? Will these values be standardized across county EMS systems? How will this data be used in the county EMS?

The standard list of political parties in VoteCal will include the political parties that have qualified as a party with the State, along with those that are attempting to qualify and which have registered with the State. In addition, VoteCal will include values for "Other" and "No Party Preference". The county EMS systems will have the same standard list and values. If a voter's political party is not one of the standard parties, their county EMS will send their party to VoteCal as "Other" and the text name of the party will be sent and stored with the voter record in VoteCal. The details of the specific values being used by VoteCal can be obtained by contacting the VoteCal project team.

16.2 How will an individual voter’s political party preference be uploaded to VoteCal? Will VoteCal only store values that match the “official list” of political parties, or will other values be permitted for upload (e.g. “Darth Vader” party)?

The standard list of political parties in VoteCal will include the political parties that have qualified as a party with the State, along with those that are attempting to qualify with the State. In addition, there will be values for "Other" and "No Party Preference". The county EMS systems will use the same standard list and values. If a voter's political party is not one of the standard parties, the county EMS will send their party to VoteCal as "Other" and the text name of the party will be sent and stored with the voter record in VoteCal.

The SOS will have the responsibility to maintain the standard list of statewide political parties.

16.3 How will voter political party preference be moved across counties? If the move is due to an address update, will the original preference be preserved, even if it does not exist in the new county's EMS?

Political party preference will be stored on the voter record and retained with the rest of the voter registration information when an address change occurs.

16.4 Do counties have to store "strange" obscure parties in their database?

The VoteCal data standards define the standard list of parties that all counties will have. The SOS will have the responsibility to maintain the standard list of statewide political parties. If that voter transfers to another county, then VoteCal will send the new county a voter record with a value of “Other” for the political party, along with the party name.

17. Elections and Elections Management

VoteCal will be considered the official repository of elections information in California and will maintain information on all elections held in the State that is coordinated/consolidated by the county elections official. The SOS will create the information pertaining to statewide elections into VoteCal. This information will be passed from VoteCal to the county’s EMS. Counties will use their EMS to enter information on local elections. This information will be passed to VoteCal.

In the event that a county has setup an upcoming statewide election prior to the SOS, the county information will be merged into the election created by the SOS.

17.1 Will local elections be loaded into VoteCal?

Yes, all official federal, state, and local elections that are coordinated/consolidated by the county elections official will be loaded into VoteCal so that a voter can see the elections in which they are eligible to participate.

VoteCal has defined a list of standard election names, types, and codes to be used by the county. These standards may be obtained by contacting the VoteCal project team.

17.2 Will voter participation history for local elections be loaded into VoteCal?

Yes, all voter participation history for federal, state, and local elections that are coordinated/consolidated by the county elections official will be uploaded into VoteCal and will appear in the local EMS for voters who transfer into that county but did not previously have that election definition.

18. Precincts and Districts

VoteCal will maintain information on the districts and precincts and their association with each registered voter. VoteCal will obtain this information from each county EMS.

VoteCal will be able to identify, from the voter’s home precinct, the voter’s voting district for US Congress, State Senate, State Assembly, Board of Equalization and County Supervisorial Districts, and the local municipality of residence (if the voter is entitled to vote in that municipality, or if not, whether the voter resides in the county’s unincorporated area). In addition, VoteCal captures and stores county-defined local districts (e.g., school districts, water boards) and will be able to identify, from the voter’s home precinct, the voter’s voting eligibility in those districts.

In cases where counties consolidate multiple home precincts into a voting precinct, VoteCal will display the consolidated precinct information for that voter.

This information will be used by the VoteCal public access website to provide registered voters with the ability to look up the precincts and the polling places assigned to them for an election.

Changes to a voter’s information will appear as soon as the county sends the specific information to VoteCal

18.1 What level of districts will be included in VoteCal? Will VoteCal include minor districts such as the “Mosquito abatement district”?

VoteCal will include all district jurisdictions, including local district jurisdictions such as Mosquito abatement districts.

19. Vote-By-Mail

VoteCal will contain functionality to track the status of Vote-By-Mail (VBM) registrants.

19.1 Consider the scenario where a voter votes by mail in one county, then moves to another county after the 29 day period and attempts to re-register or vote again. How will VoteCal handle situations like this? How will counties be notified of these types of situations?

VoteCal has worked with the BPC to identify numerous situations where voters change statuses after the 29 day period and the impact. Many of these situations will be handled in a similar process to counties existing procedures. However, when a voter moves between counties, VoteCal will transfer information between counties as identified below.

VoteCal will automatically match and merge a duplicate voter whenever there is a high confidence match as defined in Section 10 – Matching Criteria. When the match occurs, the county EMS will cancel the voter in the county they moved from.

Other potential scenarios:

  • A voter who moves prior to the deadline to register for an election must register again and vote at the new place of residence.
  • A voter who moves after the deadline to register may vote at their old place of residence.
  • A voter who casts a VBM ballot for an election in one county - then moves to another county prior to the deadline to register - must register again and vote in their new county.

If a voter votes more than once in a single election, they will be identified in VoteCal and EMS reports which counties can use for follow up after the election based on county procedures for reporting multiple votes by a single voter. Twice voted reports can be accessed by the county at the end of the canvass period.

The VoteCal team will continue to work with the BPC to identify additional scenarios and the proper resolution. This work will continue on to anticipate changes needed with CVR and other legislative directives.

19.2 Consider the scenario where a voter returns their VBM ballot but then dies before the election. How will VoteCal handle this situation?

If a high confidence match for a deceased voter is found, VoteCal will automatically cancel the voter and the voter will be identified as canceled in VoteCal. Potential matches will be sent to the counties for disposition. Counties will be able to continue to process the ballot as they normally do, adding voter participation history to the cancelled record.

20. Provisional Ballots

VoteCal supports the issuance of provisional ballots and will allow voters to check the status of provisional ballots through the public access website.

20.1 Will counties be required to adopt the provisional ballot numbering system? If a county does not use the provisional balloting numbering system, will voters be able to track the status of their ballot?

VoteCal will not require the county elections officials to implement a provisional ballot numbering system. Provisional voters will be able to utilize the public access website to look-up the status of their provisional ballot to determine if the ballot was counted. Provisional voters will be informed if their ballot was counted or not counted, and if not counted, the reason for not being counted. This information will be available to voters as soon as counties process provisional ballots and transfer provisional ballot history to VoteCal. Refer to Section 24 – Public Access Website for additional information on the public access website.

Optionally, a voter can also enter their county, election, and provisional ballot receipt number to see the status of their ballot.

21. Voter History

VoteCal will store historical information on voters based on information provided by counties through the county EMS. The information will include voter registration information, voter participation history, images (if attached to voter records), and voter activity history.

21.1 What history follows the voter record, and how will this data impact county data storage?

During the initial VoteCal data load, all records for at least the past ten years (including active, inactive, and cancelled) will be sent to VoteCal. History (including voter participation history) and all associated images will be stored in both VoteCal and the county EMS. When the voter moves, VoteCal will be updated and the full history of the voter will also be moved to the new county.

Counties will still maintain a local set of all records as they currently do. This includes copies of cancelled records (even after voter registers in another county) and associated images.

Based on initial analyses conducted by the EMS vendors, VoteCal is not expected to significantly impact county storage requirements. Images stored and transferred through VoteCal will typically be single-page TIFF format at 300dpi. This conclusion will be confirmed during VoteCal and EMS testing prior to the Pilot rollout Counties are encouraged to work with their EMS vendors to determine hardware, software and other infrastructure needs to support version changes related to VoteCal.

22. Mailings

VoteCal will provide the SOS and counties with the capability to generate data extracts of voter registration information which can be printed and utilized for mailings (including Voter Notification Cards (VNC’s), 15 Day VNC’s, and State Voter Information Guides (VIG’s)). These items can be printed and mailed by the counties or third-party mailing vendors. Counties will be able to request the data extracts through their county EMS.

At the time of implementation, VoteCal will not change the process for mailings. Any mailing currently performed by the county will continue to be handled in the same fashion. The SOS and the BPC will continue to discuss mailings in the future after the initial release of VoteCal.

22.1 What is the timing and frequency for VIG’s issued by the SOS? Will counties be able to manually request a VIG to be issued by the SOS?

VoteCal will provide the mechanism for the SOS and counties to produce mailing list extracts for statewide elections (local elections will be handled by counties through their county EMS). The SOS will trigger the initial extract for each statewide election. After the initial extract, VoteCal will allow the county elections officials to request the State VIG mailing extract through their EMS.

The SOS and counties will be able to request additional (supplemental) State VIG mailing lists. After the initial extract is run by the SOS, these supplemental lists will include all active voters not included on any prior VIG list for that election. Only State VIG lists initiated by the SOS will be mailed by the SOS. If a county requests a supplemental list, then the county must distribute the State VIG’s.

Information regarding the mailing of a State VIG will appear on the voter’s record on the VoteCal public access website. See Section 24 for additional information.

22.2 Will voters be able to opt-out of the county sample ballot and/or the State VIG in VoteCal using the public access website?

Yes, voters will be able to opt-in or opt-out of receiving the county sample ballot and/or State VIG using the VoteCal public access website.

The SOS will provide a link on their website for electronic access of the VIG, and the counties will continue to maintain a public access website for the county sample ballot information.

22.3 How will VIG mailings be done for out-of-state and out-of-country mailings? Will these be issued by the State, or by the counties?

The same process used today will be continued with VoteCal. This means that counties will directly mail out-of-state (and country) State VIG’s. Messages related to voter changes to State VIG requests will appear through the EMS message queue. The SOS and the BPC will continue to discuss changes to mailings such as these in the future after the initial release of VoteCal.

22.4 How will counties perform a county sample ballot mailing? Will the list come from the State?

The same process used today will be continued with VoteCal. Counties will generate the county sample ballot mailing list from within their EMS.

23. Jury Wheel and Public Voter Registration Data Requests (PVRDR)

VoteCal will provide authorized users with the ability to extract voter registration data and generate electronic files with voter registration data for a variety of purposes, including Public Voter Registration Data Requests (PVRDR’s) and jury wheels. Both requests can be generated from within the EMS interface once VoteCal is activated. County elections officials will be able to electronically request jury wheel information and, once the request is processed by the SOS, generate the extract through their county EMS.

23.1 Can counties attach an image (e.g. a .pdf stored locally) to the jury wheel in VoteCal?

VoteCal will capture, store, and display the details for each jury wheel request, including the name and contact information of the requestor. However, VoteCal will not have a feature to scan and capture the application paperwork.

23.2 Will VoteCal provide the ability to generate a voter extract and save it for future reference? If so, will counties be able to delete the extract at a later date?

Jury wheel extract files will be delivered to the county EMS through the VoteCal message system, and then written to the county local file system. County users must manage their own file system.

23.3 Will counties be able to provide PVRDR for voters outside of their county?

VoteCal will provide counties with the ability to extract PVRDR records for voters that cross over county lines if a district is shared between the two counties. Counties will not be able to provide statewide PVRDR data.

The BPC is still working with VoteCal on the details of PVRDR and specifically the relationship with Confidential Voters. Refer to Section 13 – Confidential Voters for confidential voters.

23.4 Will VoteCal require counties to standardize forms and formats of cross-county PVRDR requests?

VoteCal provides a tool for counties to provide the data, but does not require a change to processes for counties. Cost, format, forms, and processes can remain relatively unchanged if using a VoteCal’s PVRDR request vs. previous County EMS Voter file requests.

24. Public Access Website

Upon certification of VoteCal being the system of record, VoteCal will include a public access website which will enable voters to register to vote on-line, determine the status of their voter registration, and obtain information relative to an upcoming election. The details of this website will be discussed during future VoteCal communication meetings as the public access website is designed and created.

Existing registered voters will have to enter qualifying information to access their specific records.

As an example of the data expected to be available on the VoteCal website, an individual will be able to use the website to determine:

  • Whether the individual is registered to vote
  • Whether the individual has opted in or out of receiving the Voter Information Guide and/or their county’s sample ballot
  • Whether the individual is registered as a permanent vote-by-mail
  • If a VBM ballot was requested “one-time” for a specific election
  • The individual’s political party preference
  • The individual’s eligibility to vote in an upcoming election
  • The individual’s voting precinct for an election
  • The individual’s polling place for an election
  • Check to see whether their vote-by-mail ballot has been accepted, and if not accepted, the reason why it was not accepted
  • If viewing an election contained in VoteCal, check to see whether their provisional ballot has been counted, and if not counted, the reason why it was not counted

The VoteCal public access website will be maintained by the SOS. The VoteCal team will provide time for training of the county election officials to provide specific details to the workings of the website, and the details of messaging.

24.1 When will the public access website go live?

The public access website will go live after VoteCal is certified as the official system of record for voter registration. The SOS anticipates certifying VoteCal in June 2016. The website will be first utilized in the November Presidential Election in 2016.

24.2 Will Vote-By-Mail (VBM) status be displayed on the public access website when it is received from the county EMS or after the election?

VoteCal will display the VBM voter status (e.g. one-time request, permanent) as soon as the information is received from the county EMSs and processed through VoteCal. Whenever a voter record is updated, it will be reflected on the public access website.

VoteCal will display the VBM ballot status (e.g., accepted or not accepted) as soon as the information is received from the county EMSs and processed through VoteCal. This information will be updated as soon as the county submits any changes to the ballot status for a voter (e.g. from not accepted to accepted). Some counties may send this information automatically when a record is updated, others may choose to send the information in batches at various processing points throughout the day.

24.3 How will ballot information be displayed on the State public access website? How will this information be potentially different from what is displayed on the county websites? Will they show the same ballot status and details?

The VoteCal public access website will show:

  • The elections in which the voter cast a ballot.
  • For VBM: The county in which a voter casts their ballot, the date the ballot was received, whether the ballot was accepted or not, and (if not accepted) the reason why.
  • For Provisional Ballots: The county in which the voter casts their vote, whether the ballot was counted or not, and (if not counted), the reason why

Each county should review the information currently provided on their county website to determine if this is the same information currently provided. The ballot status on the public access website will be the same as long as VoteCal is receiving the updated information at the same time from their EMS.

The VoteCal public access website will provide a link to each county registrar’s website for additional drill down information. The may need to re-enter information to be verified on each county page. This will be necessary for information such as a copy of the voters’ county sample ballot.

24.4 What will the voter see if one or more validation processes either have not completed or fail during their registration using the public access website?

If DMV ID Verification (IDV) does not complete and/or fails validation, the user will be instructed to fill out the registration form, print, and mail the form to their county elections office to complete his/her registration.

24.5 What are the minimum required data elements for the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP)? Will these be captured on the public access website?

Yes, VoteCal will capture the minimum FVAP data elements. These include whether the voter is:

  • A California resident living in the United States
  • A member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine on active duty outside my county
  • An eligible spouse or dependent of a member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine on active duty outside my county
  • An activated National Guard member on State orders outside my county
  • A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S. temporarily
  • A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S. indefinitely
  • A U.S. citizen and have never resided in the U.S 

24.6 Will the public access website include the State Voter Information Guide or county sample ballot information? Will this include local sample ballots? Will users be provided with a link to the county websites for more information?

The public access website will include the State Voter Information Guide (VIG), but it will not include county-specific sample ballots. This information may still be maintained on the county website. Links to county websites will be available on the Secretary of State’s website.