Observe the Election Process

Elections staff sorting vote-by-mail ballots at the processing center

 

Transparency is a key component of free, fair, and functional elections. To that end, the Department of Elections welcomes members of the public to observe its operations and offer feedback.

We offer a variety of observation opportunities:

  • Watch election processes in-person at the Department’s office and warehouse, or via live streams
  • Take a tour of the Department of Elections
  • Join the Official Observer Panel for an in-depth view of our operations

To help potential observers familiarize themselves with election processes and observation guidelines, the Department publishes an Observer Guide. The November 8, 2022 Consolidated General Election Observer Guide (PDF) includes observer rights and responsibilities, as determined by the California Secretary of State and California Elections Code, and a description of observable activities that take place before, on, and after Election Day.

For more information about observation opportunities, contact us through our contact form or call us at (415) 554-4375.

Calendar of Observable Activities and Live Streams

Before each election, the Department prepares a schedule to show when, where, and how members of the public can observe specific election activities.

Calendar of Observable Activities
November 8, 2022, Consolidated General Election

 
+ Before Election Day
Activity Details Time Location
Voter Outreach Presentations Contact Matthew Selby (415) 554-4376 for details, time, and location
Designation of Letters for Ballot Measures
Video recording
Designation of Letters to identify each local measure that will appear on the ballot. August 15, 11 a.m. City Hall, Rm 48
Random alphabet drawing
Video recording
The resulting order of letters is used for determining the order of candidates' names on the ballot. CAEC sections 13111(e) and (i), and 13112
Random Alphabet Selection Results (PDF)
August 18, 11 a.m. City Hall, Rm 48
Proponent and opponent argument drawing
Video recording
Selection of official proponent and opponent arguments if more than one proponent’s or opponent’s argument are submitted. August 18, 2 p.m. City Hall, Rm 48
Logic and Accuracy Testing
Testing of ImageCast Central (ICC) Scanners and other media devices September 26 – until complete City Hall, Rm 48
Testing of ImageCast Evolution Ballot-Scanning Machines September 30 – October 14, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Warehouse, Pier 31
Testing of ImageCast X Ballot-Marking Devices September 26 – October 14, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Warehouse, Pier 31
Poll Worker and Field Support Training Contact Matthew Selby (415) 554-4376 for details, time, and location
Voting Center Any voter may vote or drop off their vote-by-mail ballot at the City Hall Voting Center beginning 29 days before the election. October 11–November 7, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

October 29-30 and November 5–6, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
City Hall, in front of Rm 48
Vote-by-Mail Ballot Processing
Sorting, scanning, and verifying signatures on vote-by-mail ballot envelopes in preparation for ballot counting. October 11 until complete City Hall, Rm 48
Opening of vote-by-mail ballot envelopes, ballot extraction, ballot scanning in preparation for tabulation. October 14 until complete City Hall, Rm 48
For activity on a specific day, contact Matthew Selby (415) 554-4376.
Ballot Remake Ballots on non-standard paper, such as those cast by military and overseas voters and returned by fax or those marked and printed through the accessible vote-by-mail system require to be remade by Department staff before being scanned for counting. October 13 until complete City Hall, Rm 48
Ballot Adjudication When ballots contain valid votes, including cases in which a ballot has been irregularly marked, torn, bent, or otherwise damaged and unreadable, the Department reviews and adjudicates these ballots. October 28 until complete City Hall, Rm 48
Official Ballot Drop Boxes Any voter may return their vote-by-mail ballot to any of San Francisco’s official ballot drop boxes. October 10 – November 8 For locations, visit sfelections.org/ballotdropoff
Mock Election Day Support Center
An internal practice of logging and resolving inquiries and issues in a simulated environment similar to Election Day. November 5, 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Rm adjacent to City Hall café
+ On Election Day
Activity Details Time Location
Voting Center / Polling Places The City Hall Voting Center and 501 polling places are open to local voters who wish to register to vote or vote in person, use accessible voting equipment, receive personal assistance, or return their vote-by-mail ballots. Election Day, November 8, 7 a.m.–8 p.m. For locations, visit sfelections.org/MyVotingLocation
Official Ballot Drop Boxes Any voter may return their vote-by-mail ballot to any of San Francisco’s official ballot drop boxes. Election Day, November 8, 7 a.m.–8 p.m. For locations, visit sfelections.org/ballotdropoff
Election Day Support Center
 
Provides support to poll workers and dispatches in-person assistance to polling places when needed. 5:30 a.m. to approximately midnight Rm adjacent to City Hall café
Processing Center
 
Receives voted ballots, rosters of voters, and other materials from polling places. Begins after 8 p.m. and continues until all polling place materials have been received Warehouse, Pier 31
Data Collection Center Receives memory cards from polling places. Begins after 8 p.m. and continues until all polling place memory cards have been received City Hall, McAllister St. entrance
Election Night Results Reporting Results are available at:
-sfelections.org/results
-Department of Elections, City Hall, Room 48
-San Francisco Government Television SFGTV, Channel 26
First preliminary results released at approximately 8:45 p.m. with updates released at approximately 9:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. City Hall, North Light Court
After Election Day
Activity Details Time Location
Ballot Processing and Tabulation
Live stream 1
Live stream 2
Live stream 3
Live stream 4
Live stream 5
Ballots include vote-by-mail ballots that voters returned to polling places and official ballot drop boxes, and that the Department received in the mail within seven days of Election Day; vote-by-mail ballots that were timely remedied by voters; provisional ballots; and ballots with write-in votes.
For activity on a specific day, contact Matthew Selby (415) 554-4376
Continues until all ballots have been counted and the results are certified (no later than December 8) City Hall, Rm 48
Results Reporting after Election Night The Department holds press briefings and posts updated results on its website on any day ballots are tabulated. Daily at approximately 4 p.m. In front of Rm 48 and on sfelections.org/results
Canvass An internal audit of the election to ensure the accuracy of results. November 10 until complete but no later than December 8, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Warehouse, at Pier 31
1% Manual Tallies Random Selection
Video recording
Random selection of precincts and batches for manual tallies. November 18, 9 a.m. City Hall, Rm 48
1% Manual Tallies
Live stream 1
Live stream 2
Manual count of ballot cards from random selection. November 19 until complete but no later than December 8, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Warehouse, at Pier 31

Official Observer Panel Application

Prior to each election, the Department invites representatives from campaigns, political parties, the Civil Grand Jury, the League of Women Voters, other committees and organizations, members of the media, and interested members of the public to join the Official Observer Panel.

The Department hosts an introductory meeting approximately one month before each election to provide an opportunity for panelists to learn about the Department, learn more about the observation process, and learn about mechanisms for providing feedback to the Department on election processes and procedures.

To serve on the Official Observer Panel, please complete and submit the Observer Panel Application (PDF). Once we receive your application, we will send you more information and an official invitation to join the Panel.