Frequently Asked Questions

About Election Results and this Website – March 2, 2021

  1. Will the unofficial election results change after Election Night? When will the election results be final?

    Election results will be updated throughout the canvass period as vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots, and other ballots are processed. Depending on the volume of these types of ballots, it may take several days for the county elections official to verify voter records and determine if ballots have been cast by eligible voters.

    County elections officials must report their final results to the Secretary of State by March 11, 2021. The Secretary of State will certify the results shortly thereafter. (Elec. Code, § 15501.)

  2. On Election Night: Why might the county not report results immediately after the polls close?

    State law requires the county elections official to send their first batch of results to the Secretary of State's office no more than two hours after they begin tallying the votes after polls close on Election Day. The county elections official continues to report results periodically on Election Night until all precinct ballot totals have been reported. The county elections official will continue to count ballots not cast at in-person voting locations in subsequent days. (Elec. Code, §§ 15150 and 15151.)

  3. On Election Night: Why might the county not show that precincts have reported, yet some votes have been counted?

    The first election results are typically ballots received before Election Day. Military and overseas voters may cast ballots up to 60 days before Election Day and vote-by-mail voters may begin voting 29 days before Election Day. The county elections official may begin opening vote-by-mail ballot envelopes up to 15 business days before Election Day, but those results cannot be accessed or shared with the public until all polls close on Election Day.

    The county elections official might choose to tally and report these early voted ballots before results come in from precincts, which are sometimes far away from county headquarters. Early voted ballots simply appear as raw vote totals because, in this initial stage, the ballots are not attributed to individual precincts.

  4. On Election Night: Why might the county show 100% precincts partially reporting on their first report of the night?

    If the county reports vote results for at least one ballot per precinct, the county will show 100% precincts partially reporting and will appear as if they have gone “final” for the night. This does not always mean that the county is done reporting for the night; therefore, each subsequent report from the county will be considered an “update” report.

  5. On Election Night: Why might the county show a high percentage of precincts partially reporting, yet the number of votes continues to change?

    The county might show an entire precinct as having reported even if only one ballot from that precinct has been counted. This is why the website specifically notes the data is from precincts “partially” reporting.

    Election results will be updated throughout the canvass period as vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots (including conditional voter registration provisional ballots), and other ballots are tallied.

  6. When are vote-by-mail ballots counted?

    Vote-by-mail ballots received before Election Day are typically processed and ready to be counted on Election Day. Many more vote-by-mail ballots are dropped off at vote centers, ballot drop-off locations, or arrive at the county elections office on Election Day. A mailed vote-by-mail ballot postmarked on or before Election Day is to be counted if received in the county elections office no later than three days after the election. Depending on the volume of these types of ballots, it may take several days for the county elections official to process, verify, and count vote-by-mail ballots. The frequency of updated results will vary based on the size of the county and the process the local elections office uses to tally and report votes.

    All vote-by-mail ballots that the county elections official determines to be valid and cast by eligible voters are counted and included in the official election results. (Elec. Code, § 15320.)

    You may check the status of your vote-by-mail ballot by visiting My Voter Statusopens new window.

  7. When are provisional ballots counted?

    All provisional ballots, including conditional voter registration opens new window provisional ballots, that the county elections official determines to be valid and cast by eligible voters are counted and included in the official election results. Depending on the volume of these types of ballots, it may take several days for the county elections official to verify voter records and determine if ballots have been cast by eligible voters. (Elec. Code, §§ 2170 and 14310.)

    You may check the status of your provisional ballot by visiting My Voter Status opens new window.

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About Voting and Special Elections

  1. How are special elections conducted?

    California conducts open primaries for legislative, congressional, and constitutional offices. In an open primary, all candidates for an office are listed on the same ballot and anyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party preference. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes in a special primary election, the two candidates who receive the most votes will move on to a run-off election. (Elec. Code, §§ 10705 and 10706.)

    If any candidate receives a majority (over 50%) of the votes in the March 2, 2021, Senate District 30 Special Primary Election, he or she will be declared elected, and no special general election will be held. (Elec. Code, § 10705.)

  2. Who are the candidates?

    The Secretary of State's below list of candidates includes the names for all candidates on the ballot for:

    1. Senate District 30, Special Primary Election opens new window
  3. What does “party preference” mean when listed with a candidate’s name on the ballot? What are the qualified political parties and abbreviations of those party names?

    A candidate must indicate his or her preference or lack of preference for a qualified political party. If the candidate has a qualified political party preference, that qualified political party will be indicated by the candidate's name on the ballot. If a candidate does not have a qualified political party preference, “Party Preference: None” will be indicated by the candidate's name on the ballot.

    The abbreviations used on the Secretary of State’s Election Night reporting website for the qualified political parties are:

    1. DEM = Democratic Party
    2. REP = Republican Party
    3. AI = American Independent Party
    4. GRN = Green Party
    5. LIB = Libertarian Party
    6. PF = Peace and Freedom Party
  4. What is Same Day Voter Registration (Conditional Voter Registration)?

    Same Day Voter Registration opens new window, also known as Conditional Voter Registration, is a safety net for Californians who miss the deadline to register to vote or update their voter registration information for an election.

    Typically, eligible citizens who need to register or re-register to vote within 14 days of an election can complete this process to register and vote at their county elections office or vote center. (In this election, because of the state holiday on February 15, 2021, the same day registration process will begin at the 13th day before the election and continue through the day of the election.) The ballots of these citizens will be processed and counted once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process.

    In some instances, an existing voter may update their political party preference or their residential address by submitting a written request form to the county elections official, instead of having to complete a full voter registration application.

  5. What is Provisional Voting?

    If a voter’s name is not on the list of registered voters at their voting location but they believe they are registered to vote, they may request a provisional ballot. A poll worker will give them a ballot and a special envelope. After voting, they will place their ballot in the provisional ballot envelope and sign the outside affirming their identity and that they have not already voted in this election. Their provisional ballot is counted after their county elections official has confirmed that they are registered to vote and they did not already vote in this election either at another voting location or by mail.

  6. When is the last day to return my completed vote-by-mail ballot?

    Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered to an in-person voting location, vote center, your county elections office, or a designated ballot drop-off location must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

    Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.

    If you are not sure your vote-by-mail ballot will arrive in time if mailed, bring it to any in-person voting location, vote center, designated ballot drop-off location in your county, or your county elections office no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

  7. How do I return my vote-by-mail ballot in person on Election Day?

    You may return your vote-by-mail ballot in person to any in-person voting location, vote center, your county elections office, or a designated ballot drop-off location on Election Day. If you are unable to return the ballot yourself, you may designate any person, as long as they do not get paid on a per ballot basis, to return the ballot to the elections official or the precinct board at any in-person voting location within the jurisdiction or to a designated ballot drop-off location. The ballot must be received by the elections official or the precinct board before the close of the polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

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