Department of Elections Reminds Voters to Fold Each 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, Friday, October 14, 2016 –As San Franciscans return their voted vote-by-mail ballots to the Department of Elections, the Department reminds voters to fold each ballot card separately before inserting the cards into the return envelope, as shown in this video.

This small step makes the return envelope flatter and streamlines the processing of these longer-than-usual ballots.

The Department of Elections utilizes equipment—a mail sorter and a ballot opener—for several steps of vote-by-mail ballot processing. If a voter folds the four or five ballot cards together before inserting them into the envelope, the envelope becomes very thick which can jam the equipment, slowing the process.

Before vote-by-mail ballot envelopes can be opened and ballot cards extracted, the envelopes are scanned through a mail sorter that records receipt of each ballot, captures the voter’s signature on the envelope for Department personnel review, and sorts the envelopes by precinct.

Once the signatures captured from the envelopes and the signatures from the voters’ affidavits of registration are compared, the envelopes of the accepted ballots (those that comply with California Elections Code section 3019) are opened by a high-speed opener while personnel extract ballots cards and prepare them for counting.

As authorized by state election law, the Department can begin opening accepted envelopes and removing ballots ten business days before an election – October 25. This process is open to the public and will take place in the Department’s office, in front of Room 59, and will be broadcast on SF Elections Live.

The Department has received nearly 4,400 vote-by-mail ballots to date. To be counted, vote-by-mail ballots must be postmarked, or date stamped by a delivery company, before or on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8, and received by the Department no later than Monday, November 14.  However, the Department encourages voters to return their vote-by-mail ballots early! 

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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