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Absentee Ballots: Make Your Vote Count

by Michael Higham, published

Voters may not want to wait until Election Day to submit mail-in votes. Absentee ballots make your vote count and ensure everyone eligible can participate in the election, and it is recommended that those ballots be turned in by November 1. Mail-in votes require processing time and may not be counted until the official canvassing is done.

Official canvassing is:

 The law that allows 28 days after the election to complete the ballot tally and the official audit of the election. When the Canvass is completed, the official results are certified.

It is crucial to turn in your mail-in vote prior to election day:

Some absentee voters wait until the last minute to make their voting choices and then drop off their absentee ballots at a polling place on election day. We make a concerted effort to pick up and pre-process absentee and provisional ballots throughout the election day, however many of these ballots are dropped off too late for pre-processing and may not be counted until several days after the election.

Pre-processing includes verifying the voter's signature. This must be completed before opening and counting the mail-in ballot. According the office of California's Secretary of State:

Once verified, the ballot is added to the official count. These ballots added to the vote-by-mail ballots not processed on election night can number 500,000 to over 1,000,000.

To be counted, your mail-in ballot must be turned in before 8:00 pm of election day. Tallying of mail-in votes begin 7 days before election day. Those tallies count toward semi-official canvassing, which are the results seen on election night.

The deadline to register to vote was midnight on October 22nd. However, if you’re a registered voter, you can apply to vote-by-mail until October 30.

In the 2010 California midterm election, 48.4 percent of votes casted were mail-in ballots. In the 2012 June primary, 65.2 percent of votes were mail-in ballots. Given the overwhelming percentage of votes coming from absentee ballots, it's important to make sure all votes are counted by election day.

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