Contra Costa County kicks off Certified Election Observer Program

A group of Observers listen to a presentation by Contra Costa County Elections Staff. Photo: CCC Elections

“We’re an open book” – Registrar of Voters Kristin Connelly

By Dawn Kruger, Civic Outreach and Engagement Specialist, Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department

Making good on its commitment to accountability and transparency, the Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department today welcomes members of the public into its fourth class of the Contra Costa County Certified Election Observer (CEO) Program. The program is open to applicants from the public—anyone can apply to future cohorts. During this election cycle, ten CEOs will participate in a rigorous series of classes and tours at Elections Division headquarters.

“Our county is home to one of the safest, most secure and transparent election systems in the nation,” says Kristin Connelly, Contra Costa Registrar of Voters. “We’re not just saying that—we’ve been recognized by our peers. We ensure all residents can see how we work. That’s why the Certified Election Observer Program is so important—it offers an in-depth look at democracy from start to finish.”

Launched in 2022 and held in advance of every election, Contra Costa County’s CEO program won an Honorable Mention Award from the United States Election Assistance Commission. The program aims to open the elections process up to more county residents and help the community become well-versed in the many steps the county takes to ensure transparency and integrity.

This election cycle’s cohort will start with a comprehensive review of the voter registration process and an introduction to the Department’s leadership. Next, CEOs will participate in poll worker training classes. They will also get a facility tour featuring a detailed review of the public logic and accuracy testing process, where staff confirms that all voting equipment is functioning properly. On the day before the March 5 Presidential Primary Election, they will review the mail-in voting and ballot scanning process. This process consists of collecting ballot envelopes from official drop boxes and the postal service, verifying voters’ signatures against registration records, extracting and scanning ballots, and tabulating the vote.

On March 18, midway through the counting process, CEOs will witness Provisional Ballot processing and ballot review, including resolving damaged or ambiguous ballots. Then, they will watch the 1% manual tally, where officials conduct an audit by hand-counting a random sample of ballots to ensure that the tabulators have counted the votes correctly. Upon completion of the program, CEOs will receive a certificate of achievement at a Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting in April.

“Our office has many opportunities for community participation,” says Dawn Kruger, Civic Outreach and Engagement Specialist. “You can become a poll worker, host a voter registration event, invite us to your organization for a presentation, learn more about how elections work by visiting our website, or engage with us on Social Media.”

Contra Costa County will host another cohort of CEOs for the fall Presidential General Election. Residents interested in receiving a presentation or observing the election process can email Those who wish to become a poll worker can visit Voters can track the processing of their own ballot by signing up for California Ballottrax at

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