Slides Summary

001. Welcome

Welcome to the Fairfax County Office of Elections, Central Absentee Precinct’s online training class for Pre-election Ballot Processing.

This course is designed to provide new preprocessors with the knowledge required to successfully participate in the ballot processing operations that occur prior to election day.

And to our returning preprocessors: Welcome back! We hope that this course will serve as a valuable tool to reinforce your preprocessing skills. Please do take some time to review the new VERIS procedures with which you may not be familiar. As always, we look to you to share your knowledge and insight with our new team members.

002. Notes and class topics

Please review all the information in these slides and notes at your own pace. You may pause at any time.

As the course progresses, preprocessors will become familiar with the practical information necessary to serve as staff members in the Office of Elections as well as the detailed procedures necessary to accomplish the very specialized tasks associated with pre-election ballot processing.

The course topics include:

  • Covid 19 guidelines

  • What is CAP Preprocessing?

  • Basic Information

  • Preprocessing tools and resources

  • Evaluation of voter submissions

  • The various types of voter submissions

  • Using the Virginia Election and Registration Information System (VERIS) to check in a voter

  • Conclusion

003. Contingency Response Plan for COVID-19

These training materials will prepare you for any upcoming election.

However, if you are reviewing this material in advance of the November 2020 General Election, note that the county is continuing to execute the Contingency Response Plan for COVID-19 within the Government Center, where preprocessing will take place.

In addition, the Office of Elections will supply preprocessing teams with gloves, face masks, and hand sanitizer. We are working diligently to ensure appropriate social distancing as well as limiting the number of staff inside the preprocessing rooms.

Of course, if any staff member is ill, please stay home to protect the health of others. If you become ill while on the job, you will be sent home.

004. What is CAP Preprocessing?

CAP stands for Central Absentee Precinct. CAP is located in the Fairfax County Government Center and is responsible for processing all absentee ballots.

There are two primary types of absentee ballot processes: 1)voters may request an absentee ballot and return their ballot by mail or drop box or 2) voters may vote an absentee ballot in person prior to the election (early voting).

On election day, CAP has three responsibilities for mailed-in absentee ballots and in-person absentee voting:

  • Adjudicating – evaluating the voter’s submission to determine if the voter has completely and correctly provided the required information.
  • Checking in – using the Electronic Poll Book (EPB) to verify and check in authorized absentee voters
  • Counting votes – scanning or handcounting the mailed-in ballots to determine how votes were awarded. CAP also tabulates votes from all early voting locations.

When the volume of mailed-in ballots is expected to exceed what can realistically be processed in CAP on election day, the law allows for pre-election day processing of ballots. In such a circumstance, CAP preprocessors are brought on staff.

Prior to election day, preprocessors have two main responsibilities:

  • Adjudicating – evaluating the voter’s submission to determine if the voter has completely and correctly provided the required information.
  • Checking in – using the VERIS system to verify and check in authorized absentee voters.

Note the difference between the processing of ballots prior to election day and the processing of ballots on election day. Votes are NEVER counted in preprocessing.

005. Guiding principles

As we plan for and conduct each election, we follow four guiding principles to maintain the integrity of the election. These principles inform each step and action we take.

It is important for you, as members of the preprocessing staff, to read, understand, and embody these principles.

006. Basic Information

We will now go over some basic administrative information and provide some practical knowledge that will come in handy before you begin preprocessing.

007. FAQs

Hours of service: Preprocessing operations will take place Monday, September 28th, through Saturday, October 31st. Depending on the volume of mailed-in ballots, it may be necessary to work on some Sundays, especially closer to election day.

CAP preprocessors are scheduled to work six hours per day, either on a Monday/ Wednesday/Friday rotation or on a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday rotation. Those who choose the early shift will work from 8:30 AM until 2:30 PM. Late shift preprocessors will work from 3:00 PM until 9:00 PM.

Location: Preprocessing will take place at the Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Room 8 and Rooms 9/10.

What to wear: Business casual and clean, unripped jeans are acceptable. Wear layers as the temperature in the Government Center can vary. No political commentary is allowed on clothing.

What to bring: You should bring snacks, beverages, water, etc. The Government Center cafeteria is open from 7:00 AM until 1:30 PM with a limited menu. You may bring electronic devices such as a phone or tablet, but you may not use them while at the processing workstations.

Payment: Pre-election processors are non-merit, temporary employees of Fairfax County. These are hourly wage positions, paid at the S-9 rate, and do not include Fairfax County benefits such as sick or annual leave or participation in the Fairfax County insurance or retirement programs. Preprocessors will be required to record hours on a payroll time sheet.

As temporary employees of Fairfax County, you are required to wear your county identification badge at all times.

Training Manual: Preprocessors are encouraged to consult the Pre-election Ballot Processing Manual for more detailed information about processes and procedures. We will send you a link for a downloadable copy once the file is available.

008. Security

Safeguarding voter and ballot information is the responsibility of every preprocessor. You may not communicate any information you see or hear in CAP to any unauthorized person while CAP is in session.

That includes:

  • Not posting on any social media while CAP is in session (that includes morning shift preprocessors after they have departed).

  • Not using your cell phone while handling any voter or ballot information.

  • Not taking photos while in CAP.

  • Not connecting to the Internet while in a CAP preprocessing room.

009. Preprocessing Positions 2020

One preprocessing team leader is responsible for overseeing all operations for all shifts and for completing the cumulative daily paperwork.

Two to four shift leaders will supervise teams to ensure correct procedures are followed, manage the daily shift paperwork, and ensure that ballots are properly secured at the end of each shift.

Preprocessors, working in teams of two, are responsible for administering the pre-election ballot processing procedures. This will include serving as a ballot officer and/or VERIS officer while processing ballots. Further, each team is responsible for accurately recording counts on Ballot Count Worksheets and reconciling these counts at the end of the shift.

Poll watchers and other authorized individuals may be present in the preprocessing rooms. Poll watchers are party or candidate representatives with written authorization. They are authorized to hear and observe preprocessing activities, but may not interfere with the orderly conduct of the operation, touch/handle any ballot, or examine information on the VERIS computer screens.

010. Ballot Processing Teams – 2 Staff Members

During preprocessing operations, ballot processing is completed by teams of 2 staff members: a Ballot Officer and a VERIS officer. It is a best practice to become familiar with the responsibilities and functions of each team member, allowing for flexibility during the day.

The Ballot Officer manages the voters’ mailed-in materials, including ballots, conducts the review process of the B envelopes, and maintains the required recording documentation.

The VERIS Officer locates, verifies, and checks in voters on VERIS and assists with ballot management.

The two officers work closely together during preprocessing. Good communication and teamwork are essential.

011. Daily Activities

A day in the life of a preprocessor includes (but is not limited to) the following general activities:

  • Processing of mailed-in absentee ballots
  • Counting of processed ballots
  • Opening and flattening of ballots for storage in a security case
  • Reconciling of counts on a ballot count worksheet
  • Packing of voters’ empty mailed-in envelopes into appropriate boxes.
  • Cleaning/sanitizing of the workspace for compliance with the county’s Covid-19 guidelines

012. What's at Your Workstation

The tools of the preprocessing trade include:

  • A candy box with stationery supplies
  • A white distribution box to hold unprocessed ballots
  • A ballot count worksheet
  • Two reference documents for accurate ballot processing: Material Omissions chart and HAVA (Help America Vote Act) guidelines
  • Bar code reader
  • Three clear plastic collection boxes labeled for “Mailers with B Envelopes”, “Saved in VERIS”, and “Not Processed.”
  • A computer with VERIS access.
  • A large cardboard box at the end of the workstation to collect the FOLDED ballots after removal from the voters’ B envelopes.

A quick word about the “Not Processed” table box. This box is used for any voter’s submission that you are unable to process, for reasons we will discuss later. When placing a mailer in this box, ensure that nothing is removed from the mailer. The mailer must include all contents mailed back to the office by the voter, including the B envelope and the ballot.

013. Reference Sheets

You will find two valuable reference guides at your workstation.

  • The Material Omissions chart is a comprehensive, user-friendly table outlining acceptable/unacceptable standards for the review of B envelopes. A material omission is a voter’s failure to provide complete and correct information on his B envelope or a failure to properly submit his ballot. Such actions will render that ballot unqualified for counting.

As a preprocessor, you are expected to make important decisions regarding the acceptance of a voter’s ballot based on the information provided by the voter on his B envelope. These decisions must be made fairly and consistently. If there is any question about the information on a voter’s B envelope, the answer can usually be found in the Material Omissions chart.

However, if you are ever in doubt, ask the preprocessing shift leader.

  • The HAVA (Help America Vote Act) guidelines are used when reviewing submissions from voters who must provide an acceptable form of identification with their ballot. Refer to these guidelines to determine if the voter has submitted an acceptable form of ID. Note that this task is typically completed by other election staff members prior to preprocessing.

014. Ballot Count Worksheet

The main function of the Ballot Count Worksheet is to reconcile the number of voters a team has checked-in on VERIS with the number of ballots processed by that team. These counts must be equal.

The Ballot Count Worksheet is also a useful tool to record a team’s progress throughout their shift.

It is the Ballot Officer’s responsibility to ensure that the Ballot Count Worksheet is completed correctly.

015. Envelope Fundamentals

A major portion of a preprocessor’s day is spent reviewing and evaluating a voter’s submission before checking that voter into VERIS.

What should a preprocessor know in order to properly review and fairly evaluate?

016. Voter Submission – A Voter in an Envelope

On election day, when a voter arrives at his polling location, he provides his name and address and presents identification, all before he is able to cast his ballot. Of course, the process is very different for an authorized absentee voter who is casting his ballot by mail.

An absentee voter who is taking advantage of the Vote By Mail option must return a ballot packet (i.e., voter submission) that typically contains, at a minimum, three components:

  • An outer mailer
  • A B envelope inside the outer mailer
  • A ballot inside the B envelope

These three components may look different based on the status and location of the voter.

For preprocessors, the B envelope is very important during ballot processing. The B envelope represents the absentee voter. On the B envelope, the voter is stating his name and address. In lieu of presenting identification, the voter provides his signature and that of a witness attesting that the information is correct. Be aware that for the November 3, 2020 election, the requirement for a witness signature has been waived.

Note that in some instances, a voter must provide additional documentation. This 4th component will also be placed in the outer mailer. We will discuss these specific instances later.

017. Domestic Ballot Mailer

This image is an example of the most common type of outer mailer submission: the Domestic Ballot Mailer.

The domestic ballot mailer is supplied by the Office of Elections and contains a preprinted return address label on the front side of the envelope.

Please note the information on the preprinted return address label, circled on the image. It includes the following:

  • Scannable bar code specific to the voter. This bar code can be scanned to quickly locate the voter in VERIS

  • Voter’s ID number

  • Voter’s name

  • Voter’s address

  • The current election

  • Voter’s Congressional District (CD) and Precinct designations

  • Indication whether extra documentation is required

018. CD Color Codes

All domestic outer mailers returned to the Fairfax County Office of Elections contain a turquoise colored band along the left-hand side.

However, in this image, please note the different colored stripes printed on the front of the mailer at the upper edge in the center. These are circled in red.

The color of this stripe indicates the Congressional District (CD) in which the voter resides.

These different colored stripes serve as a valuable sorting tool to ensure that ballots from the same CDs are kept together during preprocessing operations.

019. Domestic B Envelope

The domestic B envelope is found inside the domestic outer mailer. The ballot must be inside the B envelope. The B envelope does not have to be sealed.

The information on the B envelope is very important:

  • The Ballot officer reviews the information on the B envelope to determine if any material omissions are present.

  • The Ballot officer also reads the voter’s name and address from the B envelope so the VERIS officer can locate the voter in VERIS on the computer.

Possible circumstances:

  • What if there is no B envelope? This is a material omission; you may not process this ballot. Place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

  • What If the ballot is not inside the B envelope? This is also a material omission. Do not process this ballot. Place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

  • What if there are two B envelopes in one mailer? Both B envelopes may be evaluated for material omissions and both voters may be checked-in.

020. Matching Mailer and B Envelope

Before processing a ballot, you must ensure that the correct authorized absentee voter has completed the B envelope. Therefore, it is very important that the voter’s name and address on the address label match the information on the B envelope.

Typically, the B envelope and the outer mailer’s address label will contain the same voter information…but not always.

Note the example on the image. According to the address label on the outer mailer, Howard Fienberg is the authorized absentee voter. A ballot was sent to Howard Fienberg. However, it appears that the B envelope was completed by Julius Fienberg.

If you encounter this type of mismatch between the mailing label and the B envelope, do not process this ballot. Place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

021. Evaluating the B Envelope

Once the Ballot Officer is sure that the correct authorized voter has completed the B envelope (i.e. the mailing label and B envelope information agree), he must review the B envelope for material omissions.

  1. The B envelope must be filled out correctly and completely. It must contain:
  • Voter’s name

  • Voter’s address

  • Voter’s signature

  • Witness signature (This has been waived for the November 3, 2020 election)

  • A date is NOT required.

If any required information is missing, place the mailer with all its contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

If there are no material omissions present on the B envelope, the VERIS officer can find this voter in the VERIS database. Once again, it is important to verify the identity of the voter. The information on the B envelope must also match the information in VERIS.

If there are any discrepancies in VERIS, place the mailer with all its contents in the “Not Processed” box.

022. Acceptable Names

Let’s take a moment to discuss what is acceptable in the name field on the B envelope. To demonstrate, we will use a voter named Robert Matthew Jones. Robert Matthew Jones is the name that will appear on the address label.

  • The voter must include his full first name and full last name. For example: Robert Jones. However, a voter may provide only the initial of his first name if a full middle name is included. For example: R. Matthew Jones

  • The voter may include his name in an order different from “first, middle, last”. For example: Jones, Robert.

  • A middle name is not required or a middle initial may be substituted. For example: Robert M. Jones.

  • A voter may provide a recognized nickname. For example: Bob Jones

  • Be cautious when generational suffixes (Jr., Sr., I, II, III) are included. Ensure that you are checking in the correct voter.

Your goal is to positively identify the voter to the best of your ability.

023. Acceptable Address

What is an acceptable address on the B envelope?

  • An address must include the voter’s house/building number and the street name. An apartment or unit number is not required.
  • A voter must provide the city OR the zip code
  • A voter may not provide a Post Office Box (POB) or a Personal Mail Box (PMB) on the B envelope.

If a voter has provided an address on the B envelope that is different from his registered address in VERIS, place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

024. Other types of mailers and envelopes (submissions)

As noted previously, a ballot enclosed in a domestic B envelope, all placed inside a domestic mailer, is the most common voter submission.

However, during operations, preprocessors will encounter various other types of mailers and B envelopes. It is important that preprocessors familiarize themselves with all the different types of voter submissions. There are different requirements and preprocessing procedures relevant to each type.

025. UOCAVA Mailers

The image shows a UOCAVA mailer. UOCAVA stands for Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The UOCAVA mailer will contain a special UOCAVA B envelope with a standard digital ballot inside.

A UOCAVA mailer is used by an authorized absentee voter who is living overseas or by military personnel living anywhere.

The UOCAVA mailer is similar to the domestic mailer. It comes from the Office of Elections and contains the preprinted return address label. The only difference is that the acronym “UOCAVA” appears on the front of the mailer in a white block at the top of the turquoise band.

026. UOCAVA B Envelopes

The UOCAVA B envelope, however, is very different from a domestic B envelope.

No address is required. No date is required. In fact, the voter does not even have to provide a printed name.

What is required? Typically, only the voter’s signature and the signature of the witness. If either of these two signatures is missing, the ballot cannot be processed (the witness signature requirement has been waived for the November 3, 2020, election). Place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

027. Request for Assistance

Some voters have indicated on their absentee ballot applications that they will need assistance to complete their B envelopes and/or to mark their ballots. The letters NA (Needs Assistance) will appear on the on the right side of the preprinted return address label.

If assistance is requested, the voter will receive a blue “Request for Assistance” form. In most cases, a completed blue form will be returned in the mailer along with the B envelope. If you see a blue form in the mailer, do NOT process this mailer. Place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

Sometimes the Request for Assistance form is placed inside the B envelope. The Ballot Officer may open the B envelope slightly to check if it is inside. If the blue form is inside the B envelope, place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

When reviewing the B envelope of a Needs Assistance (NA) voter, the Ballot Officer may observe that the voter actually signed the B envelope. Perhaps this voter no longer needs assistance or the original request for the form was made in error. If the voter signed the B envelope, a Request for Assistance form is NOT required. In this case, the ballot may be processed. The Ballot Officer, of course, must ensure that the B envelope is completed correctly with no material omissions.

028. ID Required Mailer

Note the “ID Required” designation which appears on the preprinted return address label in this image. This voter has registered by mail, so he must present an identification document (ID) before voting for the first time.

The Office of Election staff will review and verify acceptable ID documents before the mailers arrive at preprocessing. If the ID is acceptable, the staff will place an “ID Verified” sticker near the address label on the mailer. These ballots may be preprocessed..

Remember, as always, the B envelope must be completed correctly with no material omissions. And, as always, if there are material omissions, place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

If you encounter an “ID Required” mailer without an “ID Verified” sticker, place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

029. Email Ballot Mailer

A voter living overseas may request that a ballot file be emailed to him. The voter will print out the ballot and B envelope and return the hard copies by regular mail.

The emailed ballot file does include a template for an outer mailer (see image on right). However, often, the voter will supply his own outer mailer (as in image on left). Neither form of outer mailer includes a preprinted return address label with a scannable bar code. Therefore, when an email ballot mailer arrives at the Office of Elections, a staff member will write the voter’s ID Number to help in the search in VERIS.

030. Email B Envelope

The email B envelope is similar to the UOCAVA B envelope and is subject to the same set of material omissions. Remember: A voter signature and a witness signature are the only requirements. However, for the November 2020 election, the witness signature requirement has been waived.

As mentioned previously, the voter prints a copy of the B envelope. Notice the dotted lines that indicate “Fold Lines”. After the voter marks his ballot, he will fold the B envelope around the ballot so that the ballot is enclosed within. Be prepared for lots of tape, glue, etc.

The ballot must be enclosed in the B envelope.

Possible Circumstances:

  • Some voters cut on the dotted lines and tape the information portion onto a separate envelope, placing the ballot inside this envelope before inserting everything inside the outer mailer. This ballot can be preprocessed.

  • If a voter cuts along the dotted lines and only places the information portion into the outer mailer with the ballot, this ballot cannot be preprocessed. The ballot was not enclosed in the B envelope. Place the mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

031. Unused/FWABs/Voids

The Office of Elections staff quickly reviews and sorts mailers as they arrive at the Government Center. They attach an appropriate sticker and set aside any unused voter packets, Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots (FWABs), and voided mailers. Typically, these will not be seen by preprocessors.

However, if one slips into one of your batches of mailers, give it to the shift leader. Do not attempt to find this voter in VERIS or to process the ballot.

032. Preprocessing Operations: The Big Picture

The previous slides have presented the background knowledge required for preprocessing. You have a great foundation and now it’s time to put all those building blocks together.

033. Preprocessing: The Big Picture

The above image displays “The Big Picture”. It describes the general flow of the preprocessing operation. In other words, who does what when!

Please take a moment to review this information.

Each piece of The Big Picture” incorporates a number of steps that must be followed precisely and deliberately. As we discuss the details of preprocessing, always keep in mind that commitment to the integrity of this process is essential.

034. Preprocessing Fundamentals – Details for the Ballot Officer

The following slides incorporate all the steps, in detail, that will occur when preprocessing a voter’s submission.

It all begins when the Ballot Officer receives the team’s first set of mailers. So, we will first concentrate on the Ballot Officer’s preprocessing functions.

But, before we start, just a word of encouragement. Hang in there! At the outset, it seems like a lot of steps, but it will all come together. And after a short time of hands-on experience, you will be an expert!

035. Ballot Officer Details: Steps 1 - 3

  • The Ballot Officer receives a set of mailers, consisting of domestic and/or UOCAVA mailers.

  • The mailers will be banded together in batches of 10. For example, a set of mailers may consist of 5 separate batches of 10 mailers each. Therefore, the set will consist of 50 mailers at the start (5 batches of 10). It is important to keep these batches separate when preprocessing.

  • These pre-batched mailers will all include a scannable bar code on the voter’s return address label.

  • The Ballot Officer quickly “eyeballs” the entire set of mailers to ensure that they are all from the same CD (use the color coding). Then look for and remove any email ballots (because these do not have a scannable bar code) and any Unused mailers, FWABs, and Voids. Give these to the shift leader.

  • Count the remaining mailers in the set. Keep in mind that if you have removed any irregular mailers (emails, unused, FWABs, or voids), some batches will now have fewer than 10. Record this number on the Ballot Count Worksheet at “Set 1 – Total Mailers at Start”.

036. Ballot Officer Details: Step 4

  1. The Ballot Officer selects the first mailer from the first batch and removes the B envelope.

a. Compare the name and address on the B envelope to the name and address on the return address label. Place any mismatches in the “Not Processed” table box.

b. Examine the B envelope for material omissions. If material omissions are present, put the B envelope back into the mailer and place it in the “Not Processed” table box. Always ensure mailers in the “Not Processed” table box contain all contents, including the ballot.

c. Review mailing label for special circumstances: ID Required or Needs Assistance (NA).

Does the mailing label indicate ID Required? Look for the additional “ID Verified” sticker on the front of the mailer.

  • If the “ID Verified” sticker is present and the B envelope is correctly completed, the voter’s submission may be preprocessed.
  • If the sticker is present but the B envelope contains material omissions, place mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.
  • If there is no “ID Verified” sticker, place mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

Does mailing label indicate Needs Assistance (NA)? The mailer may include a blue Needs Assistance form.

  • If the blue form is included, place mailer with all contents, in the “Not Processed” table box.
  • If the blue form is not included but the voter signed the B envelope and the B envelope is completed correctly, the voter’s submission may be preprocessed.
  • If the blue form is not included but the B envelope contains material omissions, place it in the “Not Processed” table box.

037. Ballot Officer Details: Steps 5 - 10

Once the Ballot Officer has verified that the voter’s address label information matches the B envelope and has determined that the B envelope is complete (with no material omissions), he can continue preprocessing.

  • Scan the bar code on the outer mailer.

  • Using the information on the B envelope, read the voter’s name and address aloud to the VERIS Officer.

  1. Listen for verbal confirmation from the VERIS Officer that:
  • The correct voter has been located in VERIS (Typically, the VERIS Officer will read the voter’s name aloud from the VERIS screen)

  • The voter’s ballot status has been updated to “Pre-Processed” in VERIS (Typically, the VERIS Officer will say “Preprocessed”)

  • Place the mailer with all contents in the “Saved in VERIS” table box.

  • Follow the same procedures to preprocess the remaining mailers in the batch. When the last mailer in the batch has been preprocessed, the VERIS Officer will save the updated voter status information. Listen for verbal confirmation from the VERIS Officer that the changes have been saved. The VERIS Officer will say “Saved”. This is critical!

  • Reband the batch of mailers. Place the batch in the “Saved in VERIS” table box. Continue with the next batch of mailers.

038. Ballot Officer Details: The End!

Finally, after all mailers in the set have been preprocessed and saved in VERIS…It’s not over yet!

Preprocessors must now prepare the ballots for storage (e.g., remove ballot from B envelope) and reconcile counts of ballots and empty B envelopes.

Ballot preparation and counts reconciliation will be covered later in the course.

039. Processing Fundamentals – Details for the VERIS Officer

In this section we will detail the step by step procedures to be followed by the VERIS Officer during preprocessing.

040. What is VERIS?

First, though, let’s talk about VERIS.

The Virginia Election and Registration Information System (VERIS) is a database that contains highly sensitive information about all registered voters throughout the state of Virginia. As such, it is crucial that this information be protected and not shared with others who do not have a need to know. VERIS voter data is only to be used in CAP in the execution of your role as a preprocessor.

041. VERIS Access

In order to access the VERIS database, you must first log into Fairfax County using your county logon credentials. Click the VERIS icon on the desktop and then sign into VERIS, using your VERIS logon credentials.

Please note: It is important to remember both your Fairfax County username/password as well as your VERIS username/password.

At the end of your shift, of course, be sure to log out of VERIS and sign out of the Fairfax County system.

042. VERIS Batch Scanning: Step 1

There are two different ways to use VERIS depending on whether or not there is a scannable bar code on the voter’s return address label.

We are going to begin our discussion with the **batch scanning** method. Batch scanning is utilized when your set of mailers all have scannable bar codes, typically domestic and UOCAVA submissions. It is the method you will use most often during preprocessing. If done properly, batch scanning is very efficient.

In this course, the second method, checking in mailers individually, will not be covered. This method is typically used for mailers without barcodes (such as emails) or with damaged bar codes. Some teams may be given “on the job training” during preprocessing to handle the check in procedure for these types of mailers.

To begin batch scanning, the VERIS Officer will log into VERIS and land on the VERIS home page. Place the cursor over “Absentee” on the navigation bar. Then select “AB Batch Receipt – without IDs” from the drop down menu.

043. VERIS Batch Scanning: Step 2

The above screen will appear on the computer.

Ensure that the “Date Received” field displays the current date and the “Received by Method” field reads “Mail.”

If the date is incorrect, use the calendar icon to the right of the date field to select the appropriate date.

Advise the Ballot Officer that he can now scan the first ballot.

044. VERIS Batch Scanning: Step 3

After the Ballot Officer scans the bar code, you will hear a “beep”. The beep indicates that the bar code has been successfully scanned. The voter’s name will appear in the name field. The voter’s ballot Status is “Marked” and the Status Reason field will indicate “Ballot Returned”. If the status field reads anything other than “Marked”, call the shift leader.

Listen carefully as the Ballot Officer reads the name and address of the voter, as it appears on the B envelope. Is this the same voter? You will read the voter’s name aloud, as it appears on the VERIS screen, to confirm that the correct voter has been located.

Change the ballot status from “Marked” to “Pre-Processed”, using the drop down menu. Confirm aloud to the Ballot Officer that the status has been updated by saying “Pre-processed”.

The Ballot Officer can now scan the next mailer.

Please note: Although rare, if a voter’s name on the B envelope does not match the scanned name in VERIS, place mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

045. Batch Scanning: Step 4

After the Ballot Officer scans the next mailer, a second name appears on the VERIS screen. (See topmost image.)

The VERIS officer continues the process:

  • Listens for the “success beep”.
  • Listens to name and address of voter as read by the Ballot Officer.
  • Reads voter’s name on screen aloud to verify that scanned name and name on B envelope are a match.
  • Changes the voter’s ballot status from Marked to Pre-Processed. Verifies the change of status by confirming “Preprocessed”.

This process will continue through all the mailers in the batch (up to10 mailers). Be sure to quickly check the Status field to ensure that “Pre-Processed” appears after each voter’s name.

After all mailers in the batch have been preprocessed, CLICK SAVE at the bottom left-hand corner of the page. This is a critical step.

After the entire batch has been saved, the Ballot Officer will reband the mailers and place the entire batch in the “Saved in VERIS” table box. Begin preprocessing the next batch of 10 mailers.

Remember to process no more than a batch of 10 mailers at one time.

046. Why 10 in Batch?

Why only 10?

Occasionally, during batch scanning, a “First Tuesday” server error message will pop up. This screen indicates that one or more mailers in the batch just scanned may not have been saved in the database.

If this screen appears, the entire batch must be rescanned.

The “No More Than 10 Rule” was instituted to minimize the amount of time spent on rescanning.

And a word of warning! VERIS can be an unpredictable creature! It can be slow or even unavailable at times. Patience and flexibility will go a long way in helping you accomplish your job.

047. Successful Batch Scan of 10…

As each batch of 10 mailers is successfully preprocessed and saved, rubber band the batch and place it in the “Saved in VERIS” table box.

Continue preprocessing the remaining batches in the set. Remember to scan one batch of 10 mailers at a time and be sure to click “Save” at the end of each batch.

When all the mailers in the entire set have been preprocessed, it is time to prepare the ballots and begin reconciliation.

048. Ballot Preparation and Reconciliation

After all the ballots in a set have been preprocessed, both team members will work together to prepare the ballots for proper storage in security cases.

In addition, the team must also reconcile the number of processed ballots with the number of voters (B envelopes) entered into VERIS. These counts must be equal. The Ballot Count Worksheet is used for this purpose.

It is the responsibility of the Ballot Officer to complete the Ballot Count Worksheet, although collecting the necessary information is a collaborative effort.

049. Preparation of Ballots

After a complete set of ballots has been preprocessed, remove the ballots from the B envelopes. Place the FOLDED ballots in the cardboard box labeled “Ballots”. Place the mailers with empty B envelopes in the “Mailers with Empty B Envelopes” table box.

Ballots must be flattened and counted before reconciling. After reconciliation, the flattened ballots will be stored in ballot security cases. Both team members will help to complete this task.

Ballot Unfolding

To prepare ballots for reconciliation and storage:

  1. Remove ballots carefully from the ballot collection box and unfold.

  2. As ballots are unfolded, carefully inspect for the following issues: tears, slices, damaged or missing code channel marks, crimped top or bottom edge, smudges, or foreign material. Set aside damaged ballots by clipping together so they remain segregated from the other ballots.

  3. Back-fold the crease on each fold in the ballot. A few ballots can be back-folded at once. Do not over-bend the ballot, as this may cause it to bend in the opposite direction, weakening the fold or creating an additional fold.

  4. Roll up the longest side once, perpendicular to the creases.

  5. Put the ballots in the same orientation and with the fold lines “nested.”

050. Reconciliation

The reconciliation procedure includes a number of steps. After preprocessing a set of ballots:

  • Count the number of emptied* B envelopes (in mailers) accumulated for that set. Remember also to account for any mailer that may have included two B envelopes.
  • The ballot officer records the total number of empty B envelopes in the appropriate section of the ballot count worksheet. Ensure that this count is placed in the appropriate CD field.
  • Count the flattened processed ballots.
  • The ballot officer records the total number of processed ballots in the appropriate section of the ballot count worksheet.

  • Compare the number of empty B envelopes with the number of processed ballots. Resolve any discrepancy.

  • If necessary, recount ballots and empty B envelopes.

  • If the number of empty B envelopes is greater than the number of ballots, check the B envelopes for ballots that may have been left inside.

  • If the number of ballots is greater than the number of empty B envelopes, check the mailing envelopes for notations indicating multiple ballots inside. Also check the “Not Processed” table box for processed envelopes.

  • Discuss any remaining discrepancy with the preprocessing shift leader.

  • The ballot officer also records the number of mailers placed in the Not Processed table box for each set.

  • Only after the numbers reconcile,take the flattened ballots to the shift leader.

  • Rubber band the mailers with B envelopes together. On the top envelope, write the date, count, team number and set number. Keep the banded bundle to the back of the “Mailers with B Envelopes” table box.

Each individual team will complete a ballot count worksheet for all sets of ballots preprocessed during a shift. At the end of the shift, the Ballot Officer must also add up each column to calculate the team’s daily grand totals.

Remember: Accuracy is essential!

051. Conclusion

We have covered the major information you need to be a successful CAP preprocessor.

  • What CAP preprocessing is

  • Types of voter submissions

  • How to review and evaluate all types of voter submissions

  • How to use VERIS to check in voters

  • End of shift functions, to include preparing ballots for storage and reconciling all counts on the Ballot Count Worksheet

More detailed information is available in the Preprocessing Officer manual.

052. Review and Final Reminders

Let’s take a moment for a quick review and some final reminders.

053. Mini-Review

  • What are the three basic components of a voter’s submission? Outer mailer, B Envelope, Ballot

  • What do the colored stripes on the front of mailers signify? The Congressional District (CD) in which the voter resides

  • Is a witness signature required on a B envelope for November 2020? No

  • If the name on the B envelope is different from the name on the preprinted address label, what do you do? Place mailer with all contents in the “Not Processed” table box.

  • What are some ‘material omissions’ on a B envelope? No name, no or incomplete address, missing voter signature

054. Mini-Review

  • What is necessary to process an ID Required Mailer? An “ID Verified” sticker affixed to the mailer by Office of Elections staff prior to preprocessing. The “ID Verified” sticker indicates that the voter’s ID was reviewed and approved.

  • You will require two sets of logon credentials. What are they? Fairfax County and VERIS

  • Can batch scanning be used for email ballots? No, batch scanning requires a scannable bar code. Email ballot mailers do not have bar codes.

  • The VERIS Officer must verbally confirm three pieces of information to the Ballot Officer. What are they? The VERIS Officer must verbally confirm 1) the voter’s name (as read from the computer screen), 2) that the voter’s ballot status has been updated to “Pre-Processed”, and 3) that the changes have been “Saved”.

  • After a set of envelopes has been successfully saved in VERIS, what happens next? Both team members work together to remove the ballots from the B envelopes, to unfold and flatten the ballots, and to reconcile the counts between ballots and B envelopes.

055. Final Reminders

Download a copy of the preprocessing manual and study it.

Be on time – we need two team members present to preprocess ballots.

If you can’t work, call us immediately.

If you have any doubts or questions about a B envelope, about the process, about VERIS, about anything, CALL THE SHIFT LEADER.

Use your reference materials – don’t guess.

Bring everything you might need for the entire shift.

056. Congratulations

Congratulations! You have completed the online class for CAP Pre-election Ballot Processing.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 703-324-7739 or email us at CentralAbsentee@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Thank you.