Election 2020 Information

This will be one of the most consequential elections in our lifetime.  We want to make sure our members have the most accurate voting information available.

PUBLISHED: August 27, 2020 at 2:52 p.m. | UPDATED: August 28, 2020 at 5:06 p.m.
On Thursday, Humboldt County's Clerk, Recorder and Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders answered questions from the Times-Standard about voting in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
She encouraged local voters to return ballots as early as possible and offered one way voters can track their ballot.
Q: When will ballots be mailed? How soon after that can the ballots be returned to the elections office?
A: Ballots will be mailed no later than Oct. 5, and voters should expect to see them in their mailboxes later that week. Voters are encouraged to vote and return their ballot immediately. Voters can sign up for a ballot tracking service at wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov to receive notification when their ballot is mailed, received, and counted by the Registrar of Voters. The sooner ballots are returned, the sooner voters will know their ballot has been received and processed.

Q: Do you think it is a good idea to vote early? Why?
A: Yes. Voters are encouraged to vote early to ensure safety and to avoid long lines at the Voter Assistance Centers. Vote by Mail ballots are processed as they are received, and they are the first ballots reported on Election Night. Vote by Mail ballots that are returned on Election Day are processed after Election Day.
Beginning Oct. 5, voters can also vote early in-person at the Humboldt County Office of Elections located at 2426 Sixth St. in Eureka. Due to the pandemic, in-person voting will be limited to nine locations called Voter Assistance Centers. The Voter Assistance Centers will be open from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3. Waiting until Election Day will likely result in long lines and delays.
Q: With the president alleging the possibility of fraud and concerns about mail delivery, what other options are available to voters to ensure their vote is counted?
A: The state is working closely with United States Postal Service to ensure election mail is given priority. Return postage on all Vote by Mail ballots is prepaid first-class mail. Vote by Mail ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received by the Humboldt County Office of Elections by Nov. 20 will be processed. Voters can also return their ballots at any of our secure ballot drop box locations, or by hand-delivering their ballot to the Office of Elections. There will be 10 ballot drop box locations for the November election and those locations are listed on our website at https://humboldtgov.org/elections.

Q: What system is Humboldt County using to tally election results and what benefits does it provide?
A: Humboldt County uses HART InterCivic's Verity system for vote tabulation. The HART system is a closed system and is not connected to the internet. Prior to each election, the Humboldt County Office of Elections performs logic and accuracy testing to ensure that the HART system is accurately tabulating the ballots. A post-election 1% manual tally is also performed as a second check. We are working with Access Humboldt in the hopes that we will be able to livestream both of these processes so that any voter interested in observing may do so.
The Humboldt County Office of Elections also works closely with the Election Transparency Project, a nonprofit organization that performs an independent audit of all of the ballots cast in an election utilizing open-source software.
Q: Stories in various news outlets are raising concerns that vote tallies might not be available on Election Night and may not come til days afterward. What kind of results do you expect to provide on election night? How does that compare with previous years?
A: Vote by Mail ballots received prior to Election Day are always the first ballots reported on Election Night, so the earlier we receive ballots, the more we can include in our Election Night results. The trend we have seen since 2018 has been that more and more voters wait until Election day to return their Vote by Mail ballots which delays results. Voters who wait until Election Day to register, and voters who choose to vote in-person but do not surrender their vote by mail ballot at the Voter Assistance Center will vote a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are also processed after Election Day. The Office of Elections has 30 days to complete the official canvass of the election, and it generally takes all 30 days to complete. We plan to post weekly updates to election results until the canvass is completed.
Q: If residents go to the voting locations. Will they fill out paper or digital ballots? What kind of election security does the county's chosen method provide?
A: Voters will receive paper ballots at all of our Voter Assistance Centers. The HART Verity system has an accessible ballot marking device for voters who have difficulty marking a paper ballot. Once the voter has marked the ballot, a paper ballot is printed that the voter can review prior to scanning the ballot. California requires a paper trail. When the polls are closed, a paper report will print summarizing results cast on the Scan machine. The Scan machine tabulation and results are not reported by electronic transmission at the Voter Assistance Center.
Q: Is there anything else local voters should know about the upcoming presidential election?
A: All active registered voters will receive a Vote by Mail ballot for this election. Voters are encouraged to visit https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov to verify their residence and mailing addresses are correct. If their addresses need to be updated voters can re-register at https://registertovote.ca.gov. Voters intending to vote in-person must bring their Vote by Mail ballot with them and should be prepared for long lines.

Voter Assistance Center locations are subject to change. Visit the Humboldt County Office of Elections website at https://humboldtgov.org/electionsfor the most current election information.

The Office of Elections is sending a countywide mailer to all registered voters on what to expect for the November election. The mailer is scheduled to start hitting voters mailboxes next week.