The Department of Elections Begins Processing Returned Vote-By-Mail Ballots for the March 5, 2024, Consolidated Presidential Primary Election

February 05, 2024

Department of Elections
City and County of San Francisco
John Arntz, Director

For Immediate Release

SAN FRANCISCO, Monday, February 5, 2024 – As authorized under the state law, the Department of Elections has begun verifying the signatures on ballot envelopes returned by local voters for the March 5, 2024, Consolidated Presidential Primary Election. On Monday, February 12, the Department will commence opening verified envelopes and extracting the ballots inside. Department staff will then process ballots on a daily basis, as necessary, and up through certification of the election.

San Francisco’s vote-by-mail ballot processing begins with an image capture of the signature on each vote-by-mail envelope for comparison to the signature image(s) in the voter’s registration record. If the signature compares, the envelope is accepted, and the ballot inside is removed for scanning and Election Night tabulation. While processing returned vote-by-mail ballots, all Department of Elections personnel follow strict operational rules. These rules protect the overall integrity of the election (e.g., one person, one vote) as well as individual voter rights (e.g., the right to cast a secret ballot).

“Our personnel process all returned vote-by-mail ballots very methodically,” said Director John Arntz. “For example, we maintain a formal chain of custody throughout the process and do not allow any ballot to be processed by a single individual. Any staff member involved in ballot processing must first review the security rules and sign an acknowledgement of such rules. We also ensure our ballot processing occurs in public areas open to observers.”

As in all elections, the Department will work to verify the signature on every vote-by-mail ballot envelope within one day of receipt (via either the USPS or an official ballot drop box). Maintaining such a ballot processing schedule allows the Department to regularly upload ballot status updates to its Voter Portal at, so San Francisco voters can easily track their ballots and see when their ballots have been accepted for counting.

Members of the public are welcome to observe any part of ballot processing in-person at the Department’s office in City Hall, Room 48 or via live stream at

For more information about the March 5 election, please contact the Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375, write to, or visit the Department’s office in City Hall, Room 48.


Department of Elections
City and County of San Francisco
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
City Hall, Room 48
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-4375