QUESTION: We are getting duplicate ballots from owners who want to change their vote. Some attorneys say the first ballot received counts and others say the two ballots cancel each other.
ANSWER: The first ballot counts. Although California's Election Code allows absentee voters to retrieve their ballot and cast a new one, no such provision was adopted in the Davis-Stirling Act. In fact, the opposite was adopted. The Act specifically provides that once ballots have been received by the Inspector of Elections, they are irrevocable. (Civ. Code § 5120(a).)
No Cancellation. Therefore, the second ballot does not cancel the first ballot. If the Inspector allows a second ballot to invalidate the first, then the first ballot has been "revoked" by the second, contrary to statute. The Inspector of Elections should instead mark any subsequent ballots as "invalid" and put them in a separate pile where they remain unopened.
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