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No, voter confidentiality is not compromised by the holes on ballot envelope | VERIFY

Sacramento County says the holes serve a dual purpose: to make sure blind voters can find the signature line and to make sure no vote goes uncounted.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With the upcoming Gubernatorial Recall Election on Sept. 14, there are some viral claims circulating social media that you might be able to see what you voted for through the holes on the ballot envelopes in some counties.

That sparked a video on social media which, as of Friday afternoon, has more than 450,000 views on Twitter and it's been shared by Richard Grenell, the former acting Director of National Intelligence under the Trump administration who has more than 580,000 followers.

"This is the sketchy part," a woman in the video said. "You have to pay attention to these two holes that are in the front of the envelope. You can see if someone from the outside of the mail-in ballot, you can see if someone has voted yes to recall Newsom."

Credit: Sacramento County
Sacramento County ballot for the Gubernatorial Recall Election.

THE QUESTION

Is my voter confidentiality compromised based on the holes that are in the envelope?

THE SOURCES

  • Janna Haynes, Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections Office spokesperson
  • Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk

THE ANSWER

No, voter confidentiality is not compromised based on the holes that are in the envelope.

WHAT WE FOUND

"This is not an issue in Sacramento County. I think it's a little-known thing that every county designs its own ballot and its own envelope and so they are all a little bit different," Janna Haynes, a spokesperson for the Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections Office said.

Sacramento County showed us their ballot and said you can't see who you voted for through the holes.

They say the holes actually serve a dual purpose. 

First, to make sure that blind voters can identify where the signature line is. 

"This is the same across every county. It's not new to this election," Haynes said. "The feedback that we had received from our blind community, best practices from the Civic Center of Design, was that we needed to make some obvious indication on either side of the signature line."

And second, to make sure no ballot goes uncounted.

"It also allows us to ensure that every envelope -- after it's been opened and the ballot has been extracted -- that the ballot envelope is now empty," she said.

Mike Sanchez, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk, told ABC10 in an emailed statement that the design of the ballot return envelope is not new and has been used for several election cycles.

"It is important to note that voters have control of how they place their ballot in the envelope and have multiple options for returning their ballots (mail, Ballot Drop Box, or at a Vote Center) to ensure secure and appropriate handling," Sanchez wrote. "Additionally, voters can track the status of their returned ballot through Ballot Trax – a free tracking application operated by the Secretary of State that will notify the voter when our office received the ballot and that it will be counted."

But if this is happening in the county you live in, there are many different actions you can take before turning your ballot in, to protect your own voter confidentiality.

"If voters put their ballot in and they feel like those two holes compromised the integrity of their voter confidentiality, they can certainly flip the ballot around, or they can fold it in a different manner as long as it still fits in the envelope," Haynes said.

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