Here’s how the ballot curing process works — and how it could be the make-or-break factor in close key elections across the state.
It’s been nearly three weeks since Election Day, and while some key races have already been decided — Los Angeles prevented billionaire Rick Caruso from buying the mayoral election and ousted far-right-supported Sheriff Alex Villanueva as head of the deadliest sheriff’s department in the country — there are still critical city- and state-level races that could be decided during the ballot curing process.
What Is Ballot Curing?
Ballot curing is the process of helping a voter with a rejected ballot correct it to make sure their vote counts. Ballots are usually rejected for not including required information or for having a mismatched signature.
In California, ballots are checked for missing or mismatched signatures on the ballot envelope. The signature is matched against whatever signature the county has on file for you — which could be from the last time you updated a driver’s license or applied for a parking permit with the city.
How Do I Know If My Ballot Needs to Be Corrected?
The easiest way to check whether your ballot has been counted is to check your mail ballot status here. If BallotTrax does not say “completed” after you have filled out the required information, there should be a reason listed as to why your ballot was rejected.
Residents of Los Angeles County can also check with the registrar to see if and when their ballot was verified.
If your ballot was rejected for a signature problem, Los Angeles County officials are supposed to contact you within 24 hours to reach out and give you an opportunity to verify your ballot and have it counted. Depending on your communication preferences, they can reach out to you via text, email, or a phone call.
What Is the Deadline for Ballot Curing for Los Angeles County?
Under California law, “voters of ballots with mismatching signatures are notified a minimum of eight days prior to certification of the election.”
So while election officials are supposed to contact voters with rejected ballots within 24 hours of receiving them, they technically have through the first week of December to complete the ballot curing process.
County election officials must finalize official results by December 8, 2022, so results can be certified by December 16, 2022.
What Los Angeles County Races Could Ballot Curing Impact?
There are still a few key races across the county that could potentially be impacted by the ballot curing process — namely West Hollywood City Council, the California District 34 US representative race, the Assembly District 40 race, and the Culver City measure that determines whether or not 16- and 17-year-old residents can vote in school board and city elections.
The West Hollywood City Council race has 12 candidates vying for three seats.. While Mayor Lauren Meister seems to have a comfortable lead, Chelsea Byers and Zekiah Wright (both of whom Knock LA recommended), former mayor of West Hollywood John Heilman, and public safety commissioner Robert Oliver are duking it out for spots 2–5.
The race for United States representative of California’s 34th district could also flip in favor of David Kim (whom Knock LA also recommended) against incumbent Jimmy Gomez. As of November 22, Gomez leads by 3,024 votes.
The race for Assembly District 40 is also neck-and-neck between Knock LA–recommended Pilar Schiavo and incumbent Suzette Martinez Valladares, who was endorsed by the anti-abortion group California Pro-Life Council. As of November 22, there is a difference just shy of 500 votes in favor of Schiavo.
Culver City’s Measure VY is the closest of local races that could potentially be impacted by ballot curing. As of the last vote count, 8,275 people had voted in favor of allowing younger people to start participating in local elections, and 8,280 against. That is a hairline of a margin with just a .04% more in favor of the measure.
Does Ballot Curing Happen in Every State?
Nope! According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), only 24 states have some sort of ballot curing procedure. The rest of the states and territories do not count ballots with mismatched or missing envelope signatures. So while the process of waiting for election results can be a nail-biting one, California’s lucky to have a process that allows people to correct their ballots for whatever clerical reason.
Can I Use Ballot Curing to Change My Vote?