Public Welcome to Watch as Elections Office Opens and Processes Vote by Mail Ballots for November 8 Election
The process begins October 28

Archive Press Release

Contact: Mark Church, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder

Alternate: David Tom, Deputy Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder

Redwood City, CA – On Friday, October 28, authorized staff of the San Mateo County Elections Office will begin opening and processing returned Vote by Mail ballots for the November 8, 2011 Consolidated Municipal, School and Special District Election, and will continue daily until all signature-verified Vote by Mail ballots are processed. The public is invited to observe.

“This is a very exciting time to visit,” stated Mark Church, San Mateo County’s Chief Elections Officer and Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder. “Right now, nearly every functional team responsible for election administration is fully engaged. We are filling requests for Vote by Mail packets. We are training election officers and field support staff and packing voting equipment and supplies for 208 polling places. We are verifying signatures on voted mail ballots, and we are processing new voter registrations mailed on or before October 24,” Mr. Church explained.

Beginning seven business days prior to an election day, state law allows election officials to open the return envelopes containing voted mail ballots, after verifying each voter’s signature on the outside of the envelopes. During this period, only two processes may be executed. First, the  envelope may be opened and the ballot may be separated from it. Next, the ballot may be digitally scanned, capturing the voting marks into the scanning system’s digital memory. However, voting marks may not be tabulated (counted) or reported until after the polls close at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, which is the deadline for physical receipt of voted mail ballots.

The tabulation results from the mail ballots that will be scanned during this period will be reported to the public at 8:05 p.m. on Election Day, as the first report of the evening’s series of reports of semi-official results issued every half hour, accumulating results from polling places until every precinct is accounted for. Mail ballots dropped off at a polling place on Election Day will be counted during the Official Canvass which begins after the polls close and continues for up to 28 days until completion of the required auditing and certification process.

53 percent (178,207) of San Mateo County’s voters routinely vote by mail. This large pool of potential voters and the seven-day head start on mail ballot processing yields a substantial first report of voting results on Election Night.

November 1 is the deadline to request a Vote by Mail ballot to be delivered by mail. This mandatory cut-off date ensures enough time for outbound and return postal deliveries between the Elections Office and the voter. After November 1, voters may obtain a ballot in person at the two Elections Office sites, at 40 Tower Road in San Mateo (weekdays from 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., and Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) and at 555 County Center, First Floor, in Redwood City (weekdays from 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.).

Observers of this initial phase of Vote by Mail processing should plan to arrive at the Elections Office no sooner than 9:00 a.m. on Friday, October 28. Processing will continue daily until every signature-verified mail ballot that was received before Election Day has been processed for tabulation on Election Night.

Persons interested in observing this or any other election process should make prior arrangements by contacting Narda Barrientos, Elections Supervisor, by phone at (650) 312-5365 or by e-mail to For driving directions or other information about the election, visit the official website at

The press release is displayed in its original format. San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder & Elections website now resides at