Voter Registration

Voter Registration Records and File Maintenance



Voter Registration Databases

Currently in California, each of the state's 58 counties control and maintain their own local voter registration databases, and the California Secretary of State maintains another voter registration database that consists of all records compiled from each of the counties throughout the state. In San Bernardino County, when a person registers to vote, their voter registration information, which includes their name, residential and mailing address, and political party preference, is manually entered into a local voter registration database.

In all databases, voter registration records are classified into four voter categories:

  1. Active Records: This category consists of voter records where the registration information has been verified against the State’s database. Active voter records are included in mailing lists for all election materials for every election in which the voter is eligible to vote, and these records are included in the Roster of Voters that is available at the assigned polling place on Election Day. Election materials may include Voter Information Guides, Official Mail Ballots, and Voter Notification Cards.

  2. Inactive Records: This category consists of voter records where the registration information has been previously verified against the State’s database, but new information has been received that has yet to be verified with the voter. Inactive voter records are not included in any mailing lists for election materials; however, the voter is still qualified to vote in eligible elections. Inactive voter records are also included in the Roster of Voters that is available at the assigned polling place on Election Day.

  3. Pending Records: This category consists of voter records where the registration information could not be verified against the State’s database. Typically, pending voter records cannot be verified against the State’s database because of missing information, which needs to be provided by the voter. When new information is received from the voter and that information is verified against the State’s database, that voter record will be moved to the active category. Pending voter records are not included in any mailing lists for election materials and are not included in the Roster of Voters.

  4. Cancelled Records: This category consists of voter records where the registration information is no longer valid. Generally, voter records are cancelled because reliable information has been received which confirms that the voter is no longer eligible to vote in the County. Cancelled voter records are not included in any mailing lists for election materials and are not included in the Roster of Voters.

Voter Registration Outreach

The Elections Office accepts completed Voter Registration Cards from individual citizens and from various public organizations including the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), public assistance agencies, and other state-funded agencies.  In addition to accepting completed Voter Registration Cards, the Elections Office engages in voter registration outreach by encouraging eligible citizens to register to vote in San Bernardino County. Voter registration outreach activities include:

 

  • Mailing registration cards to unregistered provisional voters after every election.

  • Promoting the California Online Voter Registration option and providing a link on the Elections Office website.

  • Distributing Voter Information Displays, which include Voter Registration Forms along with other voter information, to over 150 locations throughout the county.

  • Promoting High School Voter Education Weeks.

  • Providing staffing and materials for voter registration outreach at local events.

  • Providing weekly training to the public for organizations interested in conducting voter registration drives.

  • Providing annual training to public assistance agencies regarding their compliance responsibilities with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in conjunction with the Secretary of State’s Office, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Disability Rights California.   The office was one of the first counties in California to implement this type of training.  Since implementing NVRA Agency training, the Elections Office has received public recognition and praise because of the increase in NVRA agency compliance in San Bernardino County.

Voter File Maintenance

Voter file maintenance is the process county elections officials use to ensure their voter registration lists are accurate.  The California Elections Code mandates specific file maintenance procedures for keeping voter records up-to-date.  Not only does the Elections Office perform the state-mandated procedures, but the Elections Office also performs a number of optional daily, weekly, and monthly internal audits to identify potential duplicate registration records and invalid registration information.

  

State-Mandated File Maintenance Activities:

The Elections Office performs a number of state-mandated file maintenance activities that involve updating registration records based on correspondence received from other government agencies.  The County’s list of registered voters is cross-checked using the following agency data from:

  • The United States Postal Service’s National Change of Address information  (NCOA), which is received and processed monthly

  • The Department of Motor Vehicles Change of Address information (DMVCOA), which is received and processed weekly

  • San Bernardino County Election Office Official Mail Ballots, Voter Information Guides, and other correspondence returned by the United States Postal Service as “undeliverable”

  • The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health and the Secretary of State regarding deceased voters

  • Other California counties that voters have reregistered in their county

  • The Secretary of State during statewide voter registration duplicate checks, which are received and processed approximately twice per week

  • The San Bernardino County Superior Court’s Jury Administration Department regarding non-citizenship claims received on jury summons notices


Optional File Maintenance Activities:

In addition to the above state-mandated file maintenance activities, the Elections Office performs various internal audits. 

  • Duplicate Records Audit - This audit identifies potential duplicate records.  Using varying criteria, the Elections Office runs reports identifying potential duplicate registration records.  When matches are confirmed, the duplicate voter records are merged together. 

  • Address Standardization Audit - This audit identifies mailing addresses that do not adhere to the United States Postal Service addressing standards.  Voters benefit from this audit because election mail with USPS standardized addresses will likely arrive sooner. 

  • Invalid Information Audit – This audit searches for invalid registration information, including driver’s license numbers, zip codes, or phone numbers.  This information is compared to the voter registration card images to determine if there is a typographical error.  The voter records are either corrected or invalid information is removed.

  • Alternate Residency Confirmation (ARC) Process – This process identifies registration records where voters have not voted, changed their name, address, or party, and have not registered or re-registered within the previous four years.

Alternate Residency Confirmation (ARC) Process

What is ARC?

In California, county elections officials have the option to execute the Alternate Residency Confirmation (ARC) process as permitted by California election laws.  The ARC process is typically performed in an odd year following an even-year general election.  The Elections Office administers ARC to keep voter registration records accurate and to help reduce costs associated with conducting elections.

 

How does it Work?

The ARC process identifies voters who may have moved out of the County but were not detected by any other file maintenance procedure.  It does this by flagging voters who have not voted or changed their registration information in the last four years.  The registration records identified via the ARC process will be moved from the active voter list to the inactive voter list.  As a result, those voters will still be eligible to vote if they show up at the polls, but they will no longer automatically receive election materials in the mail. 

 

How will Affected Voters be Notified?

Each inactivated voter will be mailed a forwardable residency confirmation mailing that contains a postage paid return postcard that they can use to either confirm their old address or provide their new address.  Once the postcard is returned, the voter will be reinstated on the active voter registration list.  Voters that do not respond to this residency confirmation postcard will remain on the inactive list. 

County Voter Statistics

The Elections Office maintains a voter registration database of approximately 715,000 active records.  Of the County’s eligible citizens, 56% are registered to vote.  San Bernardino County is home to about 4% of the voters registered statewide. 

Voter registration numbers for San Bernardino County, including the political party breakdown by district, are updated regularly on the Elections Office’s website and can be found in the Weekly Report of RegistrationStatewide voter registration data may be found on the Secretary of State’s Voter Registration Statistics webpage.

    

VoteCal: California’s Statewide Voter Registration Database

Access to local county voter registration databases is limited to each county, so the Secretary of State’s office and other county elections offices must actively share registration information.  Information sharing between counties and the state is critical to keeping voter registration databases up-to-date.  Currently, information sharing is performed via electronic file transfers as well as printed reports.  Updates to voter records, as a result of information sharing, may take days or possibly weeks depending on the method in which information is shared.

 

In 2002, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was signed into law.  HAVA sought to address irregularities in voting systems, and required that each State implement a statewide voter registration system.  To comply with HAVA requirements, the California Secretary of State is implementing a statewide voter registration database, VoteCal, which will become the official voter registration database used by county elections officials throughout the State.  In November 2015, the San Bernardino County Elections Office will begin using VoteCal.

 

When fully implemented in all 58 counties by June 2016, VoteCal will provide a single, uniform, centralized statewide voter registration database, and will provide county elections officials with accurate and real-time information to perform various state-mandated file maintenance functions.  County elections officials will benefit from VoteCal’s ability to check for duplicate registrations throughout the state, move a voter's registration record from one county to another when a voter moves to or re-registers in another county, verify voter eligibility through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Department of Public Health, and much more.  Likewise, VoteCal will compare voter addresses and receive updated information through the California Employment Development Department and will continue to receive residence address updates through the DMV.

 

Voters will experience the greatest benefit from the implementation of VoteCal.  When a voter moves, their residential information will likely be obtained from one of the many sources that the statewide database will access, and their registration information will be updated.  If this move is between counties, the voter will no longer be required to re-register in the new county because their registration will automatically be transferred.  Additionally, VoteCal will provide California voters with access to a public portal to apply to register to vote, update their voter registration record, find their assigned polling place, or check if their vote-by-mail or provisional ballot was counted by their county elections official.

 

For more information or questions about VoteCal, please visit the California Secretary of State’s (SOS) website at www.sos.ca.gov.