RECALL ELECTION: Why do your ballot envelopes have holes?

'Nobody's trying to peek through those holes and see how you voted'

Rob Hayes Image
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Recall election: Why do your ballot envelopes have holes?
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There's a very good reason why ballot envelopes have holes - and it's not so you can peek inside.

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Registrar says about a third of the county's registered voters have already cast their votes in Tuesday's recall election, either through early in-person voting or via vote-by-mail ballots.

"Right now we're seeing a steady increase on a day-to-day basis of ballots coming back, both through the mail and through those drop boxes," said Dean Logan, Los Angeles County registrar-recorder.

All those ballots make their way through the county's ballot processing center housed in the cavernous Building 9 in the Pomona Fairplex. More than 150 employees are prepping the ballots 12 hours a day.

Roughly 5.7 million registered voters in LA County received vote-by-mail ballots and 1.6 million have already been returned and processed.

Combine that with the in-person votes already cast and Logan says about a third of the vote is in.

The ballots arrive at the processing center by the truckload and are run through automatic-signature-recognition machines.

"There's an algorithm that looks at the signature on the envelope and the signature that we have on file for your voter registration," Logan explained. "There is a competence level, and if it finds that it meets that competence level, then the ballot moves forward and goes on for processing."

Once the signatures are verified, the ballots are removed from the envelopes, then boxed and sent to the registrar's Downey facility where they'll be counted on Election Day.

Logan also addressed a growing rumor that the two holes in the vote-by-mail envelope are being used by county workers to see which candidate was voted for, allowing them to dispose of the ballot.

Logan says the holes are there so the visually impaired can feel where the signature line is on the envelope.

He says the holes also enable workers to bind dozens of the envelopes together with zip ties so they can be secured and stored more easily.

"That's what gives us that quality assurance that we didn't let an envelope slip through that still had a ballot in it," Logan said. "Nobody's trying to peek through those holes and see how you voted."