Poll Worker Training Manual

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

Instructions for Chief Inspectors, Deputy Inspectors, and Clerks

Each polling place has a Chief Inspector, at least one Deputy Inspector, and at least two Clerks. This guide explains their duties.

Questions or problems? Call:

  •   Procedures / Supplies: (415) 473-6439
  •   Accuvote or Automark: (415) 473-7460 or (415) 473-6443

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Poll Worker Instructions

Open All Panels

 
  • A. Before Election Day

    Chief Inspector Duties

    • Pick up a red Chief bag at the training class.

    Do not set up the Ballot Marking Device until election morning.

    • Use the inventory list in the red bag to make sure your red bag has all the supplies you need.
    • Call your polling place contact (listed on your supply receipt) to make sure you can get into polling place on Election Day by 6:30 a.m., or earlier.
      Important! Take this person’s contact info with you on Election Day in case you have any problems getting in.
    • Call your Deputy Inspector(s) to tell them what time to meet you at the polling place on Election Day.
    • Charge your county-issued cell phone.
    • On Monday, the day before Election Day, make sure all equipment has been delivered to your polling place by 6 p.m., including:
      • Ballot Marking Device (inside two cases)
      • Voting booths
      • Vote Here Sign
      • Tri-fold sign board
      • Black ballot box
    • Use the inventory list in the black ballot box to make sure you have all the supplies you need.
      (This list is also printed on the Ballot Box Notice in your red bag.)

    Deputy Inspector Duties

    • Pick up a black Deputy bag at the training class.
      This bag contains: Ballots, Roster, Street Indexes and other supplies you will need.
    • Use the inventory list in the black bag to make sure your black bag has all the supplies you need.
    • Open the carton(s) containing your precinct ballots to make sure the number on the outside label corresponds to the number of ballots on your ballot supply receipt.
    • Write the number of ballots that you received on the Ballot Statement, on the front cover of the Roster, Line 1.
    • Check for matching precinct numbers on the:
      • Roster cover
      • Ballots
      • ID tag inside the transparent pouches on the front and side of your black bag.
    • Compare the ballot type (BT) on the ballots and Voter Information Pamphlets to make sure they match.
    • You may receive a Vote-by-Mail Voter List by the Monday before Election Day. If you do, you must update the Roster. Mark “VBM” in red pencil in the Remarks column of the Roster next to the names of all voters whose names are on the Vote-by-Mail Voter List.
    • You may receive a Supplemental List of Voters by the Monday before Election Day. If you do, look for each voter’s name on the Supplemental List in the Roster. If you find the voter’s name, write “SUP” in the Remarks column next to his/her name. Staple this List to the blank page at the front of the Roster, after the cover page. If you receive a Supplemental List, you will also get 2 identical Supplemental Street Index pages. They are to be stapled to the last page of each Street Index.
    • Call the clerks to ask them to be at the polling place by 6:30 a.m. election day, or earlier if needed.
  • B. Election Day Before the Polls Open

    Chief Inspector Duties

    • Take red Chief bag to polling place. Arrive by 6:30 a.m., or earlier if needed.
    • Remove all supplies from the ballot box and set them aside. Use the key on the red wrist strap to open the ballot box. Make sure the ballot box is empty.
    • Follow the Ballot Marking Device Instructions to set it up for voting.
    • Have each poll worker take the Oath of Allegiance and sign the Oath page in the Roster. Each poll worker must sign that page.
    • If your polling place has two or more precincts, station a clerk near the door to direct voters to their correct voting table.
    • Set up voting room so all poll workers can clearly see the ballot box and voting booths.
    • If your polling place has two or more precincts, station a clerk near the door to direct voters to their correct voting table.
    • Connect the voting booth lamps to each other. (All cords must be away from foot traffic.)
    • Follow the instructions in the blue binder inside the Polling Place Accessibility Supply bag to set up supplies, and check that our movers installed accessibility equipment (if any) correctly to accommodate voters with physical disabilities.
    • Set up outside the polling place entrance:
      1. American flag (the blue must be on the left as you look at the flag)
      2. Street Index – one copy
      3. These signs:
        • Polling Place 100'
        • Vote Here
        • Voter’s Bill of Rights (English and Spanish)
    • Set up inside the entrance to the polling place:
      • Trifold sign board
      • Welcome sign (ask Deputy{s} if any poll workers speak Spanish or Vietnamese. If so, write those languages spoken on the sign)
      • Translated ballot
    • Turn on your county-issued cell phone.

    Deputy Inspector / Clerk Duties

    • Take black Deputy bag to polling place. Arrive at 6:30 a.m., or earlier if needed.
    • Help the Chief Inspector set up the polling place.
    • Give name tags to all poll workers. Ask any poll workers who speak Spanish or Vietnamese to write the non-English language spoken in the text of that language under their name on their name tag. Tell your Chief if either language is spoken by poll workers. The Chief will write the alternate languages spoken on the Welcome sign posted near the voting room entrance.
    • Make sure all poll workers sign the Oath & Stipend page in the Roster.
    • Set up a break schedule for you and your Clerks. Use the Break Schedule Guide in your supply bag. We recommend:
      • 1 meal break (1 to 1½ hours), and
      • 2 (15-minute to ½ hour) breaks.
      • No breaks after 5 p.m.
    • Diagram of a polling place setup
    • Train your Clerks - Tell them about their duties. Give each Clerk a job description card and rotate these jobs throughout the day:
      • Help voters sign in on the Roster.
      • Maintain Tally Sheets.
      • Maintain the inside Street Index.
      • Update the outside Street Index every hour from 8 a.m. up to and including 6 p.m.
      • Hand out ballots and secrecy folders.
      • Show new voters how to mark a ballot.
      • Use the Polling Place Table Guide to direct voters to their correct voting table, or
      • Use the Street Guide to find their correct polling place.
      • Help the Deputy Inspector with the Ballot Statement on the Roster cover.
      • Help Chief Inspector and Deputy Inspector set up and break down the polling place.
      • The Chief Inspector may ask a clerk to help deliver the red bag containing the voted ballots to the receiving center.
      • Make sure that your Clerks follow instructions throughout the day.
  • C. Voting Room Setup

    Place voting booths so that voters have maximum privacy when voting. Remove any trip hazards like throw rugs. Keep floors dry and keep doors unlocked.

    Display the flag outside where it’s visible to voters as they approach the polls. The stars of the flag must appear in the upper left corner as voters approach the entrance to the polling place.

    Note: If your polling place has two or more precincts, keep the ballots behind your voting table so they don’t get mixed up with the ballots from other voting precincts.

    Diagram of a polling place setup

    *When the side compartment of the black ballot box is full: count, place, and seal VBM ballots in Envelope VBM, and place provisional and CVR ballots in Envelope C. Place sealed envelopes in Chief’s red bag.

  • C. Accessible Voting Booth

    Voters with disabilities and elderly voters may use the accessible voting booth. Others may use it too, if it is available.

    A clear floor space of 30” X 48” is required by a person in a wheelchair for either a forward or parallel approach to the accessible voting booth.


    To set up (and pack): Attach the black leg extenders and extend the legs to the side for wheelchair access. At the end of the day, remove the legs and store with the extenders in the case.


    ADA Voting Booth

    NOTE: Many voters with disabilities have difficulty standing in line for any length of time. Poll workers may need to help keep their place in line if necessary. Also, if a voter asks to use a chair, poll workers should provide one.

  • D. When The Polls Open

    Chief Inspector Duties

    • At 7 a.m. announce, “The polls are open.”
    • Show the first voter that the ballot box is empty by lifting the top lid of the ballot box. After the voter has confirmed it is empty, lock the lid. Keep it locked until the polls close.
    • Open the lock covering the slot on top of the ballot box (if closed). Keep the slot open all day for voters to deposit their voted poll ballots through it.
    • Supervise the polling place.
    • Help voters put their ballots into the ballot box, and help voters use the ballot marking device (BMD) as needed.
    • Oversee voter traffic, so that voters form one line, and will know where to go.
    • Make sure the ballot box and the voting booths are in plain view of the poll workers.
    • With another poll worker, empty door 2 of the ballot box with when the side slot of the ballot box begins to fill up. Put VBM ballots into Envelope VBM, and Provisional and Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Ballots into Envelope C. Sign and seal both envelopes and keep them in the Chief’s red bag.
    • Check the voting booths throughout the day. Throw out any campaign literature that voters may have left.
    • Help the Deputy Inspector(s), as needed. They may need you to explain Provisional or CVR voting and cover them for breaks.

    Deputy Inspector Duties

    Polling Place Rules

    • Anyone may observe the voting process, including opening and closing the polls. Poll workers must cooperate with poll watchers, unless it interferes with voting or opening/ closing processes.
    • Anyone may look at the Roster, unless it is being used.
    • Only 1 person may go into a voting booth.
      Exceptions: A voter with a disability or a voter who needs language assistance may ask up to 2 people for help. See the Voters with Disabilities page or the Voters who speak another language page of the What to do if… guide. Voters may take their children with them.
    • If there is a line, voters can have no more than 10 minutes in a voting booth.
    • There must be at least 3 poll workers in the polling place at all times.
    • No food or drink on the voting table. Children are not allowed to sit at the voting table.
    • Poll workers must not:
      • Take any breaks after 5 p.m. until closing time.
      • Talk about politics, or talk excessively while voters are voting.
    • Newspapers, radios, TVs or campaign literature are not allowed in the polling place.
    • No campaigning or petition signing within 100 feet of the polls.
    • No exit polling within 25 feet of the polls.
    • Use of Cell phones / Cameras - To preserve privacy, secrecy and quiet at the polls, talking on cell phones is prohibited. No photography or videography is allowed inside or out of the polling place.
      Exceptions:
      • Voters may take photos of their ballot (a “ballot selfie”) and share it on social media. Poll workers need to make sure that “ballot selfies” don’t cause any disruptions.
      • Voters may use their smart phones in the voting booth as a voting aid.
      • Credentialed media may take photos or videos at the polls if it doesn’t interfere with voting or compromise voters’ privacy.
  • E. Voter Flow

    At the Door

    If your polling place has two or more precincts, station a clerk at the door with the Polling Place Table Guide to direct voters to their correct voting table. The clerk can also use the Countywide Street Guide to help voters find their correct polling place.

    At the Voting Precinct Table

    Roster Clerk

    • Ask for the voter’s name and address.
    • Find the voter’s name in the Roster.
    • Make a checkmark in the box next to voter’s name. (If “Vote by Mail” is shown next to voter’s name, see What to do if… flip guide for instructions.)
    • Turn the Roster to face voter and ask them to sign next to their name.
    • Tell the Street Index Clerk the voter’s cross reference number printed next to voter’s name.
    • Cross off a tally number on the Tally Sheet #1 for each voter who signs the Roster.

    Provisional Voters & Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) Voters

    • Ask Provisional voters to sign the pink Log of Provisional Voters in the Roster.
    • Ask CVR voters to sign the green Log of CVR Voters in the Roster.
    • Do not ask them to sign any other part of the Roster.
    • Do not cross out a tally number.

    Street Index Clerk

    • Cross off a tally number on the Tally Sheet #2 for each voter who signs the Roster
    • Find voter’s cross reference number on the Street Index.
    • Draw a line through each voter’s name on the Street Index who signs the Roster.

    Provisional Voters & CVR Voters

    • Do not cross off a tally number.
    • Do not line through voters’ names on the Street Index.

    Ballot Clerk

    • Show new voters how to mark a ballot, using a demonstration ballot.
    • Take one ballot at a time from ballot pad.
    • Remove stub from ballot and give it to voter with: ballot, felt tip pen, and a secrecy folder.

    Provisional Voters & CVR Voters

    • Give provisional voter a ballot folded in half and a provisional envelope.
    • Give CVR voter a ballot folded in half and a CVR envelope.

    Voters With Physical or Vision Disabilities

    Disabled voters may want to use the accessible Ballot Marking Device (BMD).

    Follow these steps:

    • Write precinct number on BMD envelope.
    • Give envelope to voter.
    • Do not give voter a ballot.
    • Ask Chief Inspector to explain the BMD to voter.
    • After voting, the BMD unit will print the voter’s ballot. Voter puts the ballot in BMD envelope, seals envelope, and drops it in top slot of ballot box.

    Provisional Voters & CVR Voters

    • Give a provisional or CVR envelope instead of BMD envelope, and direct voter to Chief who will assist them with voting on the BMD.

    Voter Goes to Voting Booth

    At the Ballot Box

    Voter or poll worker (do not look at ballot) puts ballot through top slot of the ballot box.

    Provisional Voters & CVR Voters

    Voter or poll worker puts provisional or CVR envelope into side slot of ballot box.

  • E. Poll Worker Procedure Chart
      Voter signs: Tally number: Voted ballot goes to:
    Different Types of Ballots: Roster Provisional Log Conditional Voter Registration
    (CVR) Log
    Yes No Ballot Box Top Slot Ballot Box Side Slot Envelope A
    Polling place X     X   X    
    Provisional   X     X   X (in Provisional envelope)  
    Conditional Voter Registration     X   X   X (in CVR envelope)  
    Vote-by-Mail         X   X (in VBM envelope)  
    Surrendered (Vote-by-Mail) X (write “surrendered” next to voter’s name in Roster)     X       X (write “surrendered” on VBM ballot or envelope)
    Spoiled (poll)         X     X (write “spoiled” on ballot)
    BMD (printed from ballot marking device) X     X   X (in BMD envelope)    
  • F. Common Situations
    Situation Procedure
    Write-in candidates Keep list of qualified write-in candidates (if any) at the voting table.
    A voter has died On the Notes About Voter Changes page of the Roster, under the heading “Deceased Voters”: Write the name and address of the deceased voter in the left column. Ask the person notifying of the deceased to print and sign their name and write their relationship to the deceased in the right column.
    A voter’s name is not spelled correctly On the Notes About Voter Changes page of the Roster, under the heading “Voters with Misspelled Name“: Write the name misspelled as shown in the Roster and voter’s address in the left column. Write correct spelling of name in the right column.
    Voter’s name is listed twice On the Notes About Voter Changes page of the Roster, under the heading “Voters with Duplicate Names in Roster”: Write the name misspelled as shown in Roster and voter’s address in the left column. Write correct spelling of name in the right column.
    A voter has moved On the Notes About Voter Changes page of the Roster, under the heading “Voters who have Moved”: Write the name and address as shown in Roster in the left column. Write new address in the right column.
    A voter changed his/her name Ask voter to sign Roster with old name and new name in parenthesis. Give voter a Voter Registration form. See the What to do if… guide for more info.
    Voter’s name is on the Supplemental List Ask voter to sign next to his/her name on the Supplemental List.
    See the What to do if… guide for more info.
    Voter’s name not on Roster or Supplemental List Give the voter a ballot and a Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) envelope. See the What to do if… guide for more info.
    If the voter signs the Roster but does not vote Put “Did not vote ballot” next to voter’s name in the Remarks column of the Roster. Insert ballot in the top slot of ballot box. On the Exceptions page (inside back cover of the Roster), write the voter’s name and “Did not vote ballot.”
    A voter leaves with a ballot Put “Left with ballot” in the Remarks column of the Roster, next to voter’s name. Also, on the Exceptions page (inside back cover of Roster), write the voter’s name and "Left with ballot”. If you don’t remember the voter’s name, write “Voter left with ballot”.
    Make a note on the Exceptions page (inside back cover of the Roster) if:
    • A provisional voter:
      • does not sign Log of Provisional Voters or Log of CVR Voters
      • signs the Roster
      • inserts their ballot into the top slot of ballot box
      • votes a BMD ballot
    • A Vote-by-Mail Voter:
      • dropped off voted ballot, but signed the Roster.
  • F. Emergency Evacuations

    Follow These Steps if There is an Emergency at Your Polling Place

    • If someone’s life may be in danger, call 911.
    • If there is a fire or other situation that makes the polling place dangerous, ask everyone in the polling place to leave.
    • Call the elections office on your cell phone to describe your situation.
    • Do not use elevators, unless police or firefighters tell you to.

    Help People With Disabilities

    Vision Problems

    • Ask:
      • “Can I show you how to get out?”
      • “Do you want to hold onto my arm?”
    • If you are not able to help the person,
      • Find someone who can, or
      • Tell the person how to get out. Use the words “left, right, back, forward.” Say how far the distances are. Remind them not to use the elevator.

    Hearing Problems

    • Get the person’s attention by touch or eye contact.
    • Use hand motions or handwriting to explain what is happening.
    • Point to the safest exit, or show the person how to get out using an evacuation map.

    Mobility Problems

    • Make sure there are uncluttered, open exit routes.
    • If someone is not able to leave, move them to a safer place, such as a stairwell or an office with a closing door. Tell the police or firefighters as soon as you can where this person is.

    If someone is in danger, and there is no safe place for them to wait, get that person out immediately. If possible try to take the person’s crutches, wheelchairs, or walkers with you.

  • G. Closing The Polls (Part 1)

    Chief Inspector Duties

    Close the ballot box and remove the ballots inside, sort and count ballots, break down the BMD.

    At 8 p.m. say out loud, “The polls are closed.” Also say, “All voters who are in line now will be able to vote.”

    After the last voter has finished voting:

    • Lock the top and side slots of the ballot box.
    • Remove ballots from the ballot box.
    • Sort the voted polling place ballots by precinct (if your polling place covers more than one precinct) and any BMD ballots (in white envelopes) by precinct number.
    • Count the voted ballots for each precinct (and any BMD ballots). Give the totals for each precinct to the Deputy(s) for his/her Ballot Statement. See front of Section H for instructions.
    • Sort provisional ballots and CVR ballots by precinct number (if your polling place has multiple precincts), count the total for each precinct, and tell the number to the Deputy(s) for the Ballot Statement. See front of Section H for instructions. Note: If you emptied the provisional ballots and CVR ballots from the ballot box earlier in the day into Envelope C, be sure to add the totals from all your Envelope Cs (by precinct number).
    • Break down the Ballot Marking Device. Follow the Ballot Marking Device Instructions for packing the device.

    If a court order is issued to extend voting hours, our office will officially notify you by phone or by a roving inspector. Anyone who votes during the extended timeframe must vote a provisional ballot. Poll workers must keep these ballots separately from ballots voted before 8 p.m., and mark the “other” bubble on the provisional envelope, and then write, “voted after 8 p.m.”

    Deputy’s Duties

    Account for unused and spoiled ballots. Record number of voters who signed Roster.

    At 8 p.m. when the polls close (after the last voter has voted), the Deputy must:

    1. Assign closing duties to the clerks:
      • Pack up all voting booths.
      • Take down the flag, outside copy of Street Index, posters and signs.
      • Bring in the Vote Here stand-up sign.
      • Help the Chief sort and count ballots.
      • Help the Chief breakdown and pack the ballot marking device.
      • Help pack up polling place supplies.
    2. Unused Ballots
      • Count all unused ballots. Write that number on the Ballot Statement, Line 2.
        Hint: You can calculate the number of unused ballots in a partially used pad by subtracting the number of the first remaining ballot from number on the final ballot and adding 1.
      • Write the total of unused ballots on the seal for the unused ballots.
      • Sign the seal and seal the unused ballots in their original carton(s).
      • Put the carton(s) of unused ballots in the black Deputy bag.
    3. Spoiled Ballots
      • Count all spoiled ballots that are in Envelope A. Write that number on the Ballot Statement, Line 3. (Do not include the VBM ballots that were surrendered.)
      • Put Envelope A in the black Deputy bag.
    4. Signatures on the Roster
      • Look at your tally sheet, and write the last number crossed off on the Ballot Statement, Line 8.
    5. Voted Ballots for Your Precinct
      • The Chief will count the voted polling place ballots, provisional ballots, CVR ballots, and BMD ballots, and tell you the totals for your precinct.
      • Write those numbers on the Ballot Statement.
    6. See H. Closing the Polls – Chief and Deputy Duties
  • H. Closing The Polls (Part 2)

    Chief and Deputy Duties

    Deputy

    1. Put these things in Envelope B:
      • Roster, street indexes, and tally sheets
      • Completed voter registration forms
    2. Sign and seal Envelope B, then put it in the red Chief bag.

    Chief

    1. Complete your Closing Guide/Checklist for Chief’s Red Bag (in Chief Bag #1) to verify that your red Chief bag is packed.
    2. Next, take to your Receiving Center:
      • Chief’s red bag, and your completed checklist for red bag,
      • county issued cell phone (keep it turned on),
      • another poll worker (s/he may go in a separate vehicle).
    3. Note: Your Receiving Center’s address is on the ID tag of your Chief’s red bag.

    Try to complete your closing duties and deliver the voted ballots to the Receiving Center within 1 hour after the polls close so that the public can get the results of the election as quickly as possible.


    Deputy

    1. Make sure your supplies are packed in the correct container. See back of Section I for diagram of where things should go.
    2. Clean up the polling place. Turn off the lights and lock the door when you leave.
    3. Leave these things inside the polling place. The movers will pick them up the next day:
      • Deputy’s black bag (packed with supplies, see Packing up – Black Deputy Bag)
      • Ballot box (packed with supplies, see Packing up – Black Ballot Box)
      • Voting booths
      • Ballot Marking Device (packed inside two cases)
      • Tri-fold sign board
      • Vote Here sign, and
      • BallotCall (if one was delivered to your polling place)
    4. Leave these things outside the polling place. The movers will pick them up later tonight:
      • Polling place accessibility equipment (ramps, signs, cones, etc.)

    Thanks to all of you for working at the polls and for a job well done!!!

  • I. Packing Up

    Chief Inspector Duties

    Complete the Closing Guide/Checklist for Chief’s Red Bag to make sure all items are packed.

    Note: You already packed the red bag when you completed Section H. Closing The Polls

    Red Bag

    • (Sealed) Envelope(s) for Voted Polling Place Ballots
    • (Sealed) Envelope(s) VBM
    • (Sealed) Envelope(s) B
    • (Sealed) Envelope(s) C

    Take the Red Bag, your county issued cell phone, and your Closing Guide/Checklist for Chief’s Red Bag to the Receiving Center right away! The address is on the ID tag on the front of the red bag. You must bring another poll worker to the receiving center. (Poll worker may go in a separate vehicle.)

    After you drop off the red bag, you may need to go back to the polling place to supervise the final closing. Check with your Deputy Inspectors to see if they need your help.


    Deputy Inspector Duties

    Use the Closing Guide for Black Deputy Bag to make sure all items are packed.

    Black Deputy Bag

    • (Sealed) carton(s) with unused ballots
    • Envelope A
    • Deputy Bag #1
    • Deputy Bag #2
    • Deputy Bag #3
    • Poll Worker Applications bag
    • Extra plastic bag(s)
    • Extra Unused Provisional envelopes
    • Extra Unused CVR envelopes
    • Closing Guide for Black Deputy Bag

    Use the Closing Guide for Black Ballot Box to make sure all items are packed.


    Black Ballot Box

    • Accessibility Supplies bag
    • Chief Bag #1
    • Chief Bag #2 (except cell phone)
    • Chief Bag #3
    • Countywide Street Guide
    • Demonstration ballot pads
    • Extension cords
    • Flag (inside envelope)
    • All polling place signs
    • Legally Req’d Posting Envelope
    • Secrecy folders
    • Ballot Box Bag #1
    • Ballot Box Bag #2
    • Closing Guide for Ballot Box

    Leave INSIDE polling place: Deputy’s black bag, ballot box, Ballot Marking Device (inside two cases), voting booths, tri-fold sign board, “Vote Here” stand up sign, and BallotCall (inside case – if one was delivered to your poll). Our movers will pick these up the day after the election.

    Leave OUTSIDE polling place: Accessibility equipment that was set up outside the polling place (i.e.: ramps, cones, signs, etc.). Our movers will pick these up on election night.