Behind-The-Scenes Look At Vote Counting in Monterey County

Mar 4, 2020

Preliminary election results are in, but there's still a lot of work to do before the results are certified. KAZU News got a behind-the-scenes look at the vote counting process.

Around midday on Super Tuesday, officials at the Monterey County Elections Office in Salinas were hard at work counting votes. 

They do get help from a lot of high-tech machines, which inspired an ecological metaphor.

“Well, the ballots going through the mail processing system... they looklike salmon traveling upstream, as you can see,” said Claudio Valenzuela, the registrar of voters for Monterey County.  

Polls workers get ballots ready to feed them through the scanners. The scanners will record the votes. They can process up to 90 cards for minute.
Credit Michelle Loxton

Valenzuela was describing the machine that checks the signatures on the vote-by-mail ballot envelopes against signatures already stored on file. 

He's also excited about some other machines the elections office is using this year to help count the votes. 

“You see the tabulation room… there's eight scanners. These are brand new scanners. They're capable of scanning about 80 to 90 cards per minute,” said Valenzuela.

The public can observe the entire counting process. It’s all happening in glass-paneled rooms for transparency.

Ballots arrive in sealed boxes from precincts.
Credit Michelle Loxton

Ballots have been arriving from the mailman, from precincts throughout the county, and from just down the hallway, where there’s a polling station.

Tuesday’s results are preliminary. Local election offices have until the end of the month to certify them.