Ballot Processing and Live Webcam

How Ballots are Processed in Whatcom County

(Live streams will be available October 13, 2021)

  1. Assembling & mailing the ballot packet
    Your ballot packet is assembled and mailed on October 13, 2021. Ballot packets include a ballot, security sleeve, return envelope and informational insert. Additional extracts are sent weekly for any recently added or updated registrants.
    Ballot packets for Military & Overseas voters are mailed on September 17, 2021. 
  2. Voting your ballot
    Your ballot packet should arrive by October 20, 2021. You have until election day to vote and return your ballot. Return your ballot in: 
    1. A ballot drop box by 8:00 pm November 2, 2021
    2. The mail, postmarked by November 2, 2021
  3. Collecting returned envelopes
    Ballots are collected from ballot drop boxes and the Post Office. Ballots returned in a drop box are prepped for the Agilis Envelope Sorter and placed into trays. Ballots returned though the postal service go directly to the envelope sorter.
    Basement Vault Opens in new windowWatch sorting envelopes into trays in the Auditor’s Vault livestream
  4. Agilis Envelope Sorter
    The envelope sorting machine takes a picture of the signature on the return envelope, to be used during signature verification. It also scans the barcode on the return envelope, which will mark the ballot as being Received. Ballot Sorter Opens in new window Watch envelope sorting machine in the Election Center livestream
  5. Checking the signature on the return envelope
    All signatures are checked before the ballot can be counted. We compare the signature on the return envelope with the signature(s) we have on file for each voter. If the signature does not match, or is unsigned, the voter will be mailed a letter to correct the issue, and contacted by phone after Election Day. Voters have until November 22, 2021 to respond and have their ballot counted. Ballots without a signature issue are Accepted, ballot envelopes with a signature issue are Rejected.
  6. Opening the ballots
    Ballots are put into groups for processing. First the security sleeve containing the ballot is removed from the return envelope. Ballots returned without a security sleeve are counted. Once separated, the identity of the voter is unknown to ensure your votes remain private. Secondly, ballots are removed from the security sleeve and inspected. Workers are inspecting the ballot to ensure the votes marked will be read by the scanning equipment. Ballots needing additional adjudication/review are flagged.
    Opening Board Opens in new windowWatch opening the ballot in the Election Center livestream
  7. Scanning the ballot
    The ballots are scanned. Images are stored on a secure and closed system (no internet access). Once scanned, the ballots are kept in a sealed, tamper evident bag. Ballot Scanning Opens in new windowWatch ballot scanning livestream
  8. Reviewing the ballot
    After scanning, the electronic images are viewed. Reviewers are adjudicating ballots by reviewing overvotes (more than one choice marked), undervotes (no choices marked), and write-ins. Workers use the Voter Intent Manual to ensure decisions are made consistently.  Any unresolved ballots are reviewed by the Canvassing Board. Adjudication Opens in new windowWatch adjudication livestream
  9. Reporting results
    Results of the election are unknown until after 8:00 pm November 2. Tabulation occurs at 8:00 pm election night, and posted to our website soon after. Results are uploaded daily after November 2 as long as there are enough ballots to be counted. The General Election will be certified on November 23.