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Voter Engagement

Sacramento County Profile

    The Sacramento County Registrar of Voters' office is     located at 7000 65th Street in the southern portion of the     City of Sacramento.

Sacramento County is home to just under one million eligible voters, approximately 700,000 of whom are registered to vote. While it is the eighth most populous California county, Sacramento is still only one-sixth the size of the largest county, Los Angeles, and half the size of San Diego County, the second largest county in the state. Thus it is reflective of a “medium-size” California county.



  • Number of precincts: 1,106

  • Number of eligible voters: 959,034 (as of April 2014)

  • Number of registered voters: 683,811 (as of April 2014 - at time of Nov. 2012 election: 698,899)

  • Votes cast Nov. 2012: 522,045

  • Number cast by VBM ballot: 302,036 (1)

  • Percentage cast by VBM ballot: 58%

Sacramento uses the DFM election management system, and Pitney Bowes’ ballot processing equipment to sort ballots and capture images of ballot envelope signatures, which are then manually compared to the ones on file. To verify a VBM envelope signature, an election worker pulls up the digital image of the signature on the envelope on a computer screen and compares it side-by-side with a digital image of the voter’s registration signature. The county has considered moving to a fully automated system that would utilize software rather than election staff to compare signatures (supervisors would still look at questionable ones), but reports that the cost of acquiring this technology is prohibitive.

Ballot Return Method

The majority of Sacramento County's VBM voters cast their ballots through the mail (59%), and another large group drops off their VBM ballots at the polling place on Election Day (27%). The remaining VBM voters either return their ballots to an official drop location (9%) or cast them in person at the county office (5%).


Uncounted VBM Ballots

Of all the VBM ballots that were received in the November 2012 General Election, 2,797 (0.9%) were not counted.

An analysis of Sacramento County’s unsuccessful VBM ballots received in November 2012, June 2012, November 2010 and November 2008 show that, on average, unsuccessful VBM ballots comprise 1 percent of all VBM ballots cast in Sacramento County.

The top three reasons why some Sacramento County VBM ballots do not get counted are: they are received too late to count (48%); the signature on the envelope does not compare to the signature on file (34%); or there is no signature on the VBM envelope (17%). These three reasons account for 99 percent of the unsuccessful VBM ballots in Sacramento County.

The number of uncounted VBM ballots in November 2012 does not include an additional 407 VBM ballots that were dropped at a polling place on Election Day but were stored improperly by pollworkers in a red supply bag that was placed on a storage rack. The misplaced ballots were discovered three months after the election, well after the results had been certified. The county’s staff analyzed the uncounted ballots and verified that, had they been counted, the votes cast would not have impacted the outcome of any of the close contests. The problem was attributed to a lack of adequate VBM ballot storage supplies provided to that particular polling place; the supply was inadequate due in part to the rising popularity of VBM ballot Election Day polling place dropoffs.

Following this incident, Sacramento instituted new procedures that will require all polling place materials to be opened and checked after the election. It is also conducting additional training of polling place “rovers” to provide assistance when supplies run low. The county reports it has also improved the labeling and signage of polling place VBM storage materials.

Sacramento County staff routinely contact VBM voters who fail to sign their ballot ID envelopes, helping to significantly reduce the potential number of uncounted ballots. For example, in November 2012, the county contacted 357 VBM voters who did not sign the VBM envelope; of those, 127 succeeded in correcting their error and providing a signature. In June 2012, 355 voters were contacted and 225 provided signatures. In November 2010, 485 voters were contacted and 270 provided signatures. It is possible some of the voters who were contacted and still did not provide signatures opted to instead vote a provisional ballot.

Ballot on Demand

Sacramento was the first county in the state to receive approval from the Secretary of State to implement ballot-on-demand. Sacramento acquired a ballot printing machine from a certified vendor and can now produce ballots in-house for voters who arrive in person and want to vote at the counter. The county utilizes the vote-by-mail ID envelope and verification system for processing ballot-on-demand ballots. The ballot-on-demand system also makes it easy for Sacramento to replace VBM ballots that are lost or mismarked.

About the Registrar

    Sacramento County Registrar of     Voters Jill LaVine

Jill LaVine has served Sacramento County voters for 26 years, the last ten of which she has worked as the Registrar of Voters. In that position, she is responsible for the operation of the Division of Voter Registration and Elections.

LaVine fills multiple roles in the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) and serves as a member of the Election Center, a national organization for election officials. As part of her work with the Election Center, LaVine chairs the Postal Task Force, which works with the U.S. Post Office to create and update various resources designed for election officials.




(1) This number was reported to CVF by the county and is slightly lower than the official number in the Secretary of State’s certified results, 306,024, since that figure includes early voting ballots as well as ballots cast through the vote-by-mail system.


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This page was first published on July 13, 2014 | Last updated on August 19, 2014
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