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.
Registered voters with disabilities may:
- Request 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 at any time. 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 or at any Vote Center. Voters can go online to www.smcacre.org/MyElectionMaterials and enter their information to find a link to their ballot or voters can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650.312.5222 to have a link to their ballot emailed to them.
- 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.
- Request that Elections Division staff bring an accessible version of the County’s electronic voting machine to a convenient location, 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.
- 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.
Options 2 – 4 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. Option 1 is available anytime, day or night, during the 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 888.SMC.VOTE (888.762.8683) or email@example.com.