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‘We don't throw that ballot away’ | Elections officials assure a secure process

County officials are using information to address some voters' doubts, concerns, and questions about the security and fairness of the elections process.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — As results continue rolling in after Election Day, there are races throughout Northern California and across the nation that will be decided by the ballots that are still being counted. These include ballots dropped in the mail the last few days.

Even among those who came out to vote, however, some people have concerns, questions, and doubts about whether the ballot they cast will be counted.

“At least you do get a chance to vote, whether they throw them away or whatever they do with them,” Citrus Heights voter Donna Thomas told ABC10.

“You hear all kinds of stories of things going on with mail-in ballots, so I brought my mail-in ballot, handed it in,” Carmichael voter Retired U.S. Army Maj. Celia Acido said while early voting on Friday.

First-time voter Jenny Hazlip had her doubts, too.

"Your vote matters, even though—who knows where it’s going to go,” she said.

“I'm wondering if our votes are being counted or if they're being thrown away,” Sacramento Voter Jamaela Jennings said.

Sacramento County Elections spokesperson Janna Haynes said — the county is working to meet concerns with information.

“We really want to break the cycle of people being concerned about what happens to their ballot,” she said.

She said that many people don’t realize the lengths to which the county goes to ensure a secure and fair process.

For example, a voter needs to sign their mail-in ballot for it to the county.

“If they missed a signature - because a lot of people forget to sign the envelope - we have to reach back out,” Haynes explained. “We don't throw that ballot away.”

And check your email; you might have received confirmation that your ballot was received and counted.

Sacramento County offers a 24/7 live feed of the ballot tabulation room HERE.

“I know that there are rumors around that if there's a blowout, we stop tabulating,” Haynes said. “That's just not true. You know, we process and tabulate all of the votes down to the end. You know, we have that 29 days to certify the election, and we'll be tabulating votes for several weeks.”

She emphasizes the results released on election night were preliminary. She estimates that only account for one-third to one-half of all the ballots they’ll ultimately receive and count.

“There are races that are within a few-hundred-vote margin, and the votes that we have left to tally could absolutely make the difference,” she said.

So every vote does matter.

She said some worry about people trying to vote twice—by using their mail-in ballot and then also trying to vote in person.

“But we do have real-time information in our vote centers with our computer systems that tell us if we have already received a ballot from a voter through the mail,” Haynes said.

Whichever ballot the county receives first is the one that counts.

“So not only will only the first vote count but that voter would be reported to the Secretary of State's office for voter fraud,” Haynes said.

Mailed ballots are still flooding in, she said so the county will release updated election results this Friday at 4 p.m. They’ll update results every Tuesday and Friday until the county certifies the vote – by Dec. 8. Then, the Secretary of State’s Office has until Dec. 16 to post the final election results.

You can read more about Sacramento County Elections security HERE.

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