Assistance for Voters with Disabilities


Assistance for Voters with Disabilities

The Registration & Elections Division has a long-standing commitment to working with voters with disabilities to help them exercise their right to vote. This page provides general information about these efforts, and voters are encouraged to contact us with specific requests for assistance using the contact information below.

In 2006, the County of San Mateo purchased and implemented a direct recording electronic voting system, the Hart InterCivic eSlate voting system, enabling voters with disabilities to vote privately and independently for the first time. This system includes the Disabled Access Unit, which features audio ballot reading technology, uniquely shaped large buttons with Braille descriptions, a lower overall height suited for wheelchairs and technology that permits the use of adaptive interface devices such as sip-and-puff switches and buddy buttons. The eSlate system, including the Disabled Access Unit, is available at all Vote Centers throughout the County, including during early voting and on Election Day. Voters with disabilities may also contact us to schedule a time at the location of their preference during early voting to vote using the Disabled Access Unit.

You may learn more about the eSlate’s many features here. Vote Center Representatives are trained to provide assistance at any of our voting sites.

Through site visits and cooperation from various facilities throughout San Mateo County, all voting locations are ADA accessible to voters with disabilities under ADA Title II and in compliance with guidelines set by the Secretary of State of California.

In 2015, the Registration & Elections Division founded the Voter Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC), a committee designed to provide guidance and information on accessibility matters related to the conduct of elections. You may read more about the VAAC’s role below.

For voters with disabilities, the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division offers four options:

  1. They may request to receive an Accessible Vote by Mail Ballot. The Accessible Vote by Mail system allows voters with disabilities, overseas voters, military personnel and military spouses to vote privately and independently by accessing and marking an electronic ballot in a screen-readable format on any computer. Voters using this online system will log in and download their ballot to a computer, mark their choices, and then print the ballot. The ballot must then be returned to the Registration & Elections Division via mail, drop-off box or any Vote Center.
  2. They may request to have a Vote by Mail paper ballot personally delivered to their home at a convenient time by Elections Division staff, who will assist them in marking and returning the ballot.
  3. They may request that Elections Division staff bring an accessible version of the County’s electronic voting machine to a convenient location such as their home to cast an electronic ballot privately and independently. This system includes audio ballot reading technology, uniquely shaped large buttons with Braille descriptions, a low height to permit wheelchair-based use, and use of adaptive interface devices such as sip-and-puff and tactile input switches to control the input. The Elections Division staff will set up the equipment and be available to assist the voter during the process.  
  4. They may request that the Elections Division staff arrange free transportation for the voter to and from a Vote Center during the early voting period, where the County’s accessible electronic voting machine may be used by the voter.

These options are generally available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week during the early voting period starting 29 days before the election. Voters who contact the Elections Division Monday through Thursday will receive service the following day or sooner. Voters who contact us on Fridays can schedule an appointment for the following Monday or sooner if possible. Special accommodations can be made for service outside established hours.

To use any of the options listed above, registered San Mateo County voters may contact the Registration & Elections Division at 650.312.5222 no later than the day before the desired voting date in order to schedule assistance. (Please note that there is a deadline for enrolling in the standard Vote by Mail program or to register to vote, but voters who are already registered in San Mateo County may request the four options listed above during the entire early voting period.)

These options only apply to San Mateo County registered voters. Other voters should contact their County elections official for assistance.

If you have questions or to schedule one of the options listed above, please contact the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division at 650.312.5222 or


eSlate Accessible Voting

The eSlate voting device is a fully accessible device that allows all voters to cast their ballot secretly and independently. The eSlate meets HAVA accessibility requirements and was the most user-friendly device tested by the San Mateo County Elections team. The company that makes the eSlate worked with organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind, the National Organization on Disability and the American Association of People with Disabilities to ensure that the eSlate system meets the most stringent requirements for accessibility by all voters.