Department of Elections Asks Voters to Take One Easy Step to Save Ballot Processing Time: Fold Each Vote-by-Mail Ballot Card Separately Before Inserting into the Return Envelope

Department of Elections
City and County of San Francisco
John Arntz, Director

For Immediate Release
SAN FRANCISCO, Thursday, October 20, 2016 –The Department of Elections requests that, before inserting their vote-by-mail ballots into the return envelope, San Francisco voters fold each ballot card separately, as shown in this video.

This small step makes the return envelope flatter and streamlines the processing of these four- or five-card ballots.

The Department of Elections uses a mail sorter and a ballot opener to maximize efficiency of several ballot processing steps. If a voter folds all ballot cards together before inserting them into the return envelope, the envelope becomes very thick and can jam the equipment, slowing the process.  

State election law authorizes the Department to begin opening accepted vote-by-mail envelopes and removing ballots ten business days before an election – October 25. This process will take place in the Department’s City Hall office, in front of Room 59; it is open to the public and will be broadcast on SF Elections Live. By law, results can be tabulated and released only after the polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Night.

Voters with questions about voting or returning their ballots are encouraged to call the Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375, write to, or visit the Department’s office in City Hall, Room 48.   


Department of Elections
City and County of San Francisco
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
City Hall, Room 48
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-4375

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