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§ 20873. Rights of Election Observers.

2 CA ADC § 20873Barclays Official California Code of RegulationsEffective: February 27, 2024

Barclays California Code of Regulations
Title 2. Administration
Division 7. Secretary of State
Chapter 8.2. Election Observation: Rights and Responsibilities
Effective: February 27, 2024
2 CCR § 20873
§ 20873. Rights of Election Observers.
(a) As provided in Elections Code sections 15004(a) and (b), each political party qualified to participate in an election in California and any bona fide association of citizens or a media organization may employ, and may have present at the central counting site or sites, not more than two representatives to check and review the preparation and operation of the tabulating devices, their programming and testing, and have the representatives in attendance at any or all phases of the election.
(b) An election observer shall have the right to check and review the preparation and operation of the tabulating devices, their programming and testing, and observe any or all phases of the election.
(c) An election observer shall have the right to observe the processing of vote-by-mail identification envelopes and vote-by-mail ballots pursuant to Elections Code section 15104. Observers shall be allowed sufficiently close access to enable them to observe the vote-by-mail identification envelopes, the signatures and dates thereon, and the manner in which vote-by-mail ballots are handled. The processing of vote-by-mail identification envelopes and vote-by-mail ballots includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Securing vote-by-mail ballots to prevent tampering with them before, during, and after the ballots are counted.
(2) Verifying signatures on the vote-by-mail identification envelope, which may include the use of signature verification technology, in accordance with Section 20960.
(3) Identifying whether there are multiple signatures on the vote-by-mail identification envelope, and whether there is more than one ballot in the vote-by-mail identification envelope and verifying signatures accordingly pursuant to Section 20991.
(4) Checking the opened vote-by-mail identification envelopes to ensure that all of the contents have been removed.
(5) Duplicating damaged or defective ballots, votes cast on a sample ballot, or ballots cast using a remote accessible vote-by-mail system in accordance with Elections Code section 15210.
(6) Checking postmarks on vote-by-mail identification envelopes or the time and date stamps on envelopes or packages delivered by a bona fide private mail delivery company received after Election Day, and checking postmarks on vote-by-mail ballots that are enclosed in an envelope or package delivered by a bona fide private mail delivery company.
(7) Checking the statewide voter registration system to confirm that the voter has not already voted, or that the conditional voter registration is proper.
(8) Adjudicating hand-marked ballots, which may be done with a paper ballot or a scanned ballot image, where the ballot tabulator cannot discern the voter's choice.
(9) Counting valid ballots.
(10) Making notes on rejected ballots in accordance with Elections Code section 15154.
(d) An election observer shall have the right to make challenges pursuant to Section 20879.
(e) An election observer shall have the right to observe any proceedings at a polling place before it opens to the public, during polling hours, and after the polls close.
(f) An election observer has the right to inspect any information available from the voter list that is or should be posted or otherwise available at the polling place or at the office of the elections official pursuant to Elections Code sections 14223 and 14294. However, the inspection shall occur at a time or in a manner which will not impede, interfere, or interrupt the normal process of voting.
(g) An election observer has the right to observe the retrieval of vote-by-mail ballots from vote-by-mail drop boxes and vote-by-mail drop off locations.
(h) An election observer has the right to observe the election processes and activities at the central counting site, or sites if applicable, beginning when the elections official starts processing vote-by-mail ballots, through Election Day, and until the elections official has certified the results of the election.
(i) An election observer has the right to observe the activities of the semifinal official canvass and the official canvass as defined in Elections Code sections 353.5 and 335.5, respectively.
(j) An election observer has the right to ask questions of the precinct board and receive answers so long as they do not interfere with the conduct of any part of the voting process. If questioning disrupts the execution of the duties of the precinct board, the precinct board may discontinue responding to questions from that observer. The elections official may designate a member of the precinct board to whom an election observer may ask questions at the polling place. If the elections official has not designated a person, or that person is not available, the observer may pose questions to any member of the precinct board. If an answer cannot be provided immediately, the election worker or elections official shall provide an answer as soon as is reasonably practicable.
(k) An election observer has the right to ask questions and receive answers during the observation of an elections process or activity so long as they do not interfere with the conduct of the elections process or activity being observed. If questioning disrupts the execution of the duties of the elections official, the elections official may discontinue responding to questions from that observer. The elections official may designate a person to whom an election observer may ask questions about the process being observed. If the elections official has not designated a person, or that person is not available, the observer may pose questions to the elections official or to any election worker. If an answer cannot be provided immediately, the election worker or elections official shall provide an answer as soon as is reasonably practicable.
(l) If the elections official utilizes signature verification technology to verify signatures on vote-by-mail identification envelopes, an observer shall be permitted to ask questions and receive answers about that process and technology. The elections official may designate a person to whom an election observer may ask questions about signature verification technology. If the elections official has not designated a person, or that person is not available, the observer may pose questions to the elections official or to any election worker. If an answer cannot be provided immediately, the election worker or elections official shall provide an answer as soon as is reasonably practicable.
(m) Subject to Elections Code section 2302, an election observer may use an electronic device, including a smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device, at a polling place.
(n) An international election observer, as defined in Elections Code section 2301(b), shall be provided uniform and nondiscriminatory access to all stages of the election process that are open to the public, including the public review period for the certification of a ballot marking system, the processing and counting of vote by mail ballots, the canvassing of ballots, and the recounting of ballots. An international election observer shall not interfere with a voter in the preparation or casting of the voter's ballot, with a precinct board member or an elections official in the performance of his or her duties, or with the orderly conduct of an election.

Credits

Note: Authority cited: Section 12172.5, Government Code; and Section 10, Elections Code. Reference: 335.5, 353.5, 2300, 2301, 2302, 14223, 14240, 14251, 14294, 15004, 15101, 15104, 15105, 15106, 15204 and 15210, Elections Code.
History
1. New section filed 2-27-2024; operative 2-27-2024 pursuant to Government Code section 11343.4(b)(3) (Register 2024, No. 9).
This database is current through 5/17/24 Register 2024, No. 20.
Cal. Admin. Code tit. 2, § 20873, 2 CA ADC § 20873
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