The San Mateo County Elections Office announced it found 65 provisional ballots from the November election. Though they would not change the result, Chief Elections Officer Mark Church said it was unfortunate and completely unacceptable.
“There is simply no excuse for this type of error in the elections process,” Church said. “The importance and significance of each vote cannot be understated. It is the cornerstone of our democracy. While the misplacing of provisional ballots is a rare incident, the misplacing of even one ballot is shocking and inexcusable to me as the chief elections officer. I am committed to ensuring that each and every vote cast by our citizens is accurately processed.”
According to the Elections Office, a preliminary review of election night procedures determined that the provisional ballots from the Redwood City Voting Center were sealed in a Red Supply Case (RSC) and delivered to the Elections Division in San Mateo. The RSC was then placed in the security vault and the ballots were transferred to a covered bin that prevented the ballots from being seen.
Of the 65 provisional envelopes found, only 35 contained ballots of eligible voters from 30 precincts. The remaining 30 provisional envelopes were not eligible voters either because they had already voted in the election or because they were not registered. The provisional ballots that were found came from the Redwood City voting center, according to the Elections Office.
“Proper steps will be taken to avoid incidents of this nature from ever occurring again. A thorough review of our Elections procedures is being conducted, and additional training will be provided to all elections staff,” Church said.
The 65 provisional envelopes will remain sealed in accordance with Elections Code Sections 17301 and 17032 requiring election materials to be stored for 22 months, after which they will be destroyed, according to the Elections Office.