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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Where your early ballot goes once cast

Duration: 02:44s 0 shares 1 views
Where your early ballot goes once cast
Where your early ballot goes once cast

As millions of Americans vote early in this year’s presidential election, workers at voting centers like one in Orange County in Santa Ana, California, are busy opening and processing ballots through.

Colette Luke has the latest.

Millions of Americans are voting early in this year’s presidential election.

Once they vote either by mail or through a drop-off site, their ballots end up at voting centers like this one in Orange County in Santa Ana, California, where workers are busy opening and processing them through.

"So, what you're seeing here is this is a large part of the manual operation for flattening ballots in preparation for scanning them.

This is after they've been open." That’s Neal Kelley, the elections chief for Orange County.

"We mailed out on October the 5th to 1.7 million voters, so voting has been going on for several weeks now and we ... historic returns to date.

We started off a few days after the mailing, receiving tens of thousands of ballots and it was actually 400 percent over four years ago." Kelley explains what happens once you mail or drop off your ballot.

"So what you're seeing here are the ballots that are coming in from mail or drop boxes and these ballots, the first stop they make is this device which captures the signature of the voter and then we make the comparison to the voter's signature on file and then we open the ballot if it's eligible." The ballots then go into individual slots where they are sorted by precincts, and workers then open the ballots and flatten them before they are scanned and processed.

And for those who want to vote in-person in Orange County – the fifth largest voting jurisdiction in the U.S. - Kelley says they’ll be welcomed with hand sanitizers, people in full PPE and disposable pens to use.

Voters will also use a device that is not connected to a network or the Internet, which makes it unhackable, according to Kelley.

The voters will put their ballots into drop boxes in the machines and the ballots are later collected by election workers and are taken to a secure location where they are counted via a central tally system.

"We do everything but tally the votes.

I can't do that until election night.

So we hold the data in suspense and it's in multiple databases and then we fuse it all together on election night to produce the results.

I cannot know the results and I can't produce the results until election night." Kelley said although the number of returns is still much higher than what he saw in 2016, it is slowing a bit.

Nonetheless, Kelley, who has managed other presidential elections, said he’s never seen this much enthusiasm before.

"I managed five presidential elections and this one has the most intense level of energy I've seen in any of those elections.

2008, there was a lot of intensity around the election, but this one is very different.

So, the early engagement the phone calls were getting, the engagement on social media has really been through the roof.

I mean, it's been pretty high."


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