§11-108  Counting of mail-in ballots; validity; ballots included in recounts; certification of final tabulation.  (a)  Ballot processing for tabulation may begin no sooner than the eighteenth day before the election.  In the presence of official observers, counting center employees may open the return identification envelopes and count the ballots; provided that any tabulation of the number of votes cast for a candidate or question appearing on the ballot, including a counting center printout or other disclosure, shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed to the public until after the closing hour of voting or after the last person in line at a voter service center desiring to vote at the closing hour of voting has voted, as provided in section 11-131, whichever is later.  All handling and counting of ballots shall be conducted in accordance with procedures established by the chief election officer.

     (b)  The initial tabulation of ballots shall be completed no later than 6:00 a.m. on the day following an election day.

     (c)  Any ballot the validity of which cannot be established upon receipt shall be retained by the clerk and shall not be commingled with ballots for which validity has been established until the validity of the ballot in question can be verified by the clerk.  No ballot shall be included in an initial tabulation until the clerk has determined its validity.  The clerk shall make reasonable efforts to determine the validity of ballots within seven days following an election day.  No ballot shall be validated beyond the seventh day following an election.

     (d)  Any initial recount provided by law shall include only ballots verified for the purpose of the initial tabulation.  In no event shall a recount of an initial tabulation include ballots the validity of which could not be verified by 6:00 a.m. on the day following an election day.

     (e)  No election result shall be certified pursuant to section 11-155 unless all ballots verified as valid by the clerk within seven days following an election day have been added to the final tabulation.  Recount of a final tabulation shall be as provided by law. [L 2019, c 136, pt of §2; am L 2021, c 213, §23]