California Will Allow Some Voters to Prepare Ballots at Home in Upcoming Recall

Vote by Mail (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty)
Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty

The State of California will allow some voters to prepare ballots at home during the recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom, through technology the state first adopted in the 2020 election to help disabled voters and speed up the voting process.

The system includes two different options. One is called “Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail (RAVBM),” which allows voters to fill out their ballot online, print it out on their own printer, and submit it by mail or at a polling location. The RAVBM system must be requested by the voter.

Another option, available in Los Angeles County, is the Interactive Sample Ballot (ISB), in which voters fill out a sample ballot online, then print or display generate a “poll pass” with a QR code, which they can take to be scanned by a “Ballot Marking Device” at a polling place to record a vote.

Interactive Sample Ballot (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News / L.A. County)

The Interactive Sample Ballot system, as described in the sample ballot mailed to all registered voters by Los Angeles County for the 2021 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

According to the California Secretary of State, the RAVBM system was developed for the November 2020 election. It is apparently being used again for the Newsom recall on Sep. 14 — as is the practice of sending mail-in ballots to every registered voters, instead of merely those voters who request a ballot. (That practice was extended through 2021 by a law enacted in February, as it was becoming clear to all that there would likely be enough signatures on petitions to force a recall election for the governor.)

The Secretary of State’s office notes that there were “four certified RAVBM systems” for the November 2020 vote: “Five Cedars Group Alternate Format Ballot v5.2.1, Democracy Live Secure Select 1.2.2, Dominion Voting Systems Dominion ImageCast Remote 5.10A, and Los Angeles County Voting Solution for All People Interactive Sample Ballot 2.5.” Though RAVBM is designed for voters with disabilities, “any voter” could request to use it in 2020.

L.A. County produced a video for the 2020 election showing how RAVBM ballots can be returned by mail:

L.A. County also produced a video showing how the Interactive Sample Ballot and the “poll pass” system work:

A sample ballot sent to L.A. County voters says the ISB system is designed to simplify voting for all voters because of the “large number of candidates [43, other than the governor himself] appearing on the ballot” in the recall election.

Katy Grimes of the California Globe notes that voters in California are asking questions about the RAVBM system, including “Can you print out more than one ballot? How are these verified and by whom?”

In response to the question “How secure are RAVBM systems?”, a FAQ page at the Secretary of State website says: “California has one of the most strenuous testing and certification programs in the country to ensure that your private and independent ballot is secure.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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