“Where’s My Ballot?” is a way of tracking your Vote by Mail
ballot every step of the process. You can sign up to receive text
messages, emails or phone calls when your ballot was mailed, when
it was received by the post office if you mailed it back and when
it was accepted by the Elections Office.
How do I sign up for “Where’s My Ballot?”
You can sign up by clicking wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov.
You can also select your preferred contact methods and language.
Once you sign up, you will receive information regarding your
ballot for all elections which you are eligible until you
Is there a cost?
“Where’s My Ballot?” is free to sign up for and to use. Standard
text message or voice rates may apply.
Do I have to sign up for “Where’s My Ballot?” to find out if my
ballot was accepted by the Elections Office?
You do not need to sign up for “Where’s My Ballot?” to find out
if your ballot was received or accepted by the Elections Office.
You can go to “My Election Info”
to check the status of your ballot.
I am having problems logging into “Where’s My Ballot?”
To login to “Where’s My Ballot?”, you need to use the exact first
name, last name, birthdate and zip code that you are registered
with. If you still have issues, you can contact us at email@example.com or
I have additional questions about “Where’s My Ballot?”?
Vote Centers will be open throughout San Mateo County starting 29
days prior to the Election. You will find Vote Center locations
on the back of your Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet or
online here. Registered
voters may vote in person at any San Mateo County Vote Center,
request a replacement ballot or drop off their voted ballot.
Vote Center Representatives will be on hand to help voters
When are the Vote Centers open for voting?
You will find Vote Center locations on the back of your Sample
Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet or online here. In addition, Vote
Centers are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. By law,
you have a right to vote if you are in line at the Vote Center by
the close of the polls.
Why was my Vote Center changed?
In California, there are no permanent Vote Centers. Locations may
change from election to election. Sometimes a facility that was
used previously may not be available for a particular election.
Changes to precinct boundaries may sometimes occur when precincts
are consolidated or realigned, especially for local elections
that are not statewide.
Can I take my Sample Ballot or my own written voting choices into
the voting booth?
Yes. It is recommended that you mark your voting choices in your
Sample Ballot and take it to the Vote Center on Election Day. You
can refer to your Sample Ballot to make your choices. Remember to
take your Sample Ballot out of the voting booth after you have
If I do not know what to do when I get to the Vote Center, will
someone help me?
Yes. Ask the Vote Center Representatives to help you with the
voting process. Vote Center Representatives cannot, however, help
you in making decisions on your voting choices.
I only speak limited English, is there oral assistance or are
written voting materials available in languages other than
Yes. In accordance with federal law, San Mateo County provides
voter registration information, election materials and oral
assistance in English, Spanish and Chinese. Additionally,
Vote Centers that have been identified as requiring oral language
assistance are staffed with bilingual Vote Center Representatives
whenever possible. Signs are posted in those locations
identifying the minority languages spoken.
Can I vote for someone whose name is not listed on the ballot?
Yes. You may vote for a write-in candidate whose name is not
printed or displayed on the ballot. Only votes for qualified
write-in candidates will be counted. Ask Vote Center
Representatives or call the San Mateo County Registration &
Elections Division at 650.312.5222 for a list of qualified
write-in candidates. Elections Officials can also assist you with
write-in voting procedures.
If a candidate that I voted for drops out of the election, can I
change my vote or vote again for a different candidate?
No. Once you vote (cast your ballot), you cannot change your vote
or vote again regardless of whether a candidate drops out before
Why don’t I see my city council/school district on my ballot?
San Mateo County’s election landscape is changing. Most scheduled
local elections will no longer occur in odd-numbered years
beginning in 2017. Senate Bill No. 415 (SB 415), also known as
the California Voter Participation Rights Act, mandates
jurisdictions with odd-year elections to move to even-year
elections by November 2022 if voter turnout falls below a
threshold established by law. The new law aims to increase voter
participation and lower costs in local elections since
even-numbered year elections have higher voter turnout. More
information can be found at Senate
Bill 415: Elections Moving from Odd to Even Years.
I have to work and therefore have no time to vote, what should I
According to California Elections Code, employees are eligible
for paid time off for the purpose of voting only if they do not
have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. Employees
can be given as much time as they need in order to vote, but only
a maximum of two hours is paid. Alternatively, all registered
voters will receive a Vote By Mail ballot. Ballots can be dropped
off through the mail, at any Vote Center, as well as at Ballot
Drop Off Box locations.
How do I vote if I can’t get to a Vote Center?
ALL registered voters will be mailed a Vote by Mail ballot
beginning 29 days prior to Election Day. You can complete the
ballot and return it by mail in the included postage-paid
envelope. You can also drop off your completed ballot at ANY
Vote Center or Ballot Drop Box Location.
You also can go to any Vote Center to
cast your ballot in person either on paper or on a ballot marking
Please note – there is no online voting. You
have a choice of either completing your Vote by Mail ballot and
returning in the mail or dropping it off OR voting at a Vote
If you do not receive your Vote by Mail ballot by 20 days before
the election, contact the Registration & Elections Division by
text or phone at 650.312.5222 to request another ballot.
At least 18 years of age on or before the next election
Not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction
Not declared mentally incompetent by court action
How do I register to vote?
You can fill out a voter registration form available at all post
offices, city halls, most public libraries, Department of Motor
Vehicles (DMV) offices and most governmental agencies. Once you
sign the form, just drop it in the mail. Postage is prepaid.
If you move, change your name, or wish to change your political
party affiliation, you must re-register to vote.
The deadline to register to vote for any election is 15 days
prior to Election Day. After the deadline, you can still register
conditionally and vote at any Vote Center in San Mateo County.
Your vote will be counted once you’re confirmed as an eligible
I just moved to California, when can I register to vote?
You can register (or re-register) at any time, but you must be
registered 15 days prior to an election to be eligible to vote in
that election. After the deadline, you can still register
conditionally and vote at any Vote Center in San Mateo County.
Your vote will be counted once you’re confirmed as an eligible
In presidential elections, special rules apply to new residents.
Can I register to vote at my business address or can I use my
P.O. Box number?
You are only eligible to register to vote using your place of
residence. You are only eligible to vote in the contests in the
jurisdictions where you live (e.g., congressional, state
assembly, state senate, municipal, judicial, county,
school and/or special district offices). However, Safe at Home participants can use a
free P.O. Box instead of a home address.
You may use a business address or a P.O. Box as a mailing address
to receive voter information materials and ballots.
I registered at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Why
does the County say I’m not registered?
A number of citizens who thought they had registered at DMV
offices are not actually registered. Although they checked the
box on the DMV form indicating they wanted to register to
vote, many forgot to complete the attached voter
registration form. A voter registration form must be
completed, signed and received by the San Mateo County
Registration & Elections Division in order to become a registered
Must I register with a specific party?
No. California law states that an individual may select “No Party
Preference” when registering to vote.
What are the qualified political parties?
The qualified political parties in California are: the American
Independent Party, the Democratic Party, the Green Party, the
Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom Party and the
Republican Party. California law permits you to register and
select the “No Party Preference” option indicating that you are
not affiliated with any party. This is the same thing as a
nonpartisan voter, an independent voter, or a “Decline to State”
Can I change my political party affiliation?
Yes. If you wish to change your political party affiliation you
must re-register at least 15 days prior to an
election. After the deadline, you can still register
conditionally and vote at any Vote Center in San Mateo County.
Your vote will be counted once you’re confirmed as an eligible
If I didn’t vote in the last election, do I have to re-register?
No. Generally, you are registered to vote as long as you live at
the same address.
How can I find out if I am registered to vote?
Go to the “Check My
Registration/Access My Election Materials/View My Sample Ballot
Pamphlet” page. You will be asked to type in your house
number, zip code and birth date to check the status of your voter
registration and find other important information. You can also
call the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division at
650.312.5222 and ask one of the staff to check and see if you are
Can I obtain registration information about another individual?
Yes. However, access to this information is restricted. The
Elections Code has very strict guidelines as to the permissible
uses of voter information.
I became a new citizen after the registration deadline. Can I
still register and vote?
Yes. Persons who become citizens after the close of registration
can only vote at the Elections Office up to the seventh day prior
to an election. New citizens must present a Certificate of
Naturalization and declare that they have established residency
in San Mateo County.
Can an ex-felon register to vote and be eligible to vote?
Yes. An ex-felon can register to vote and is eligible to vote in
elections if he/she is not currently in prison or on parole for a
What is Conditional Voter Registration?
During the period of 14 days up to and including Election Day, an
individual may go to the office of their county Elections
Official or designated satellite location to conditionally
register to vote and vote a provisional ballot. This process is
called Conditional Voter Registration (CVR).
In order to conditionally register, the individual must first
complete an affidavit of registration (also known as a voter
registration card). The voter is then given a CVR provisional
ballot to vote.
Once the county Elections Official processes the affidavit of
registration, determines the individual’s eligibility to
register and validates the individual’s information, the
registration becomes permanent and the CVR provisional ballot
will be counted. This process occurs before or during the
You do not need to pay for postage, or place any stamps, on the
ballot return envelope that comes in the Official Ballot
package. The postage for the ballot return envelope has
been paid by the San Mateo County Registration & Elections
How much time do I have to return my Vote by Mail ballot?
Vote by Mail ballots must be received by the San Mateo County
Registration & Elections Division on or before 8 p.m. on Election
Day, or be postmarked on or before Election Day and received
within 17 days after Election Day.
You may drop off your Vote by Mail ballot at any voting location
and participating jurisdiction office before 8 p.m.
Election Day and it will be counted. Visit www.smcacre.org/vote-center-locations
for more information.
What should I do if I think my Vote by Mail ballot will not
arrive at the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division
by the 8 p.m. deadline?
We encourage voters who are concerned with voting on-time to
vote as soon as possible. Every election has a month-long voting
period allowing early voters to mail their ballots back and track
on to verify if their ballot was received and counted. Voters may
also vote early at a Vote Center or drop off their voted
ballot at an outdoor ballot drop box.
What should I do if I cannot return my Vote by Mail ballot
myself and it is too late to send it in the mail?
You may authorize any person to return your ballot. On the return
envelope, you must sign your name and print the name of the
person you are authorizing to return your ballot. That person
must also sign in the space provide.
If I lose the Vote by Mail ballot sent to me, can I get another
Yes. Call/Text the San Mateo County Registration & Elections
Division at 650.312.5222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and
a second ballot will be sent to you. You may also go to a Vote
Center. The deadline to request a replacement mail ballot
is 7 days before Election Day. Otherwise, you must go to a Vote
Center in person.
I am out of the country and the mail is slow. Can I apply earlier
than the normal 29 days?
Yes. Go to this website and
follow the directions. You may receive a special Vote by Mail
ballot that can be sent out as early as 60 days prior to an
I will be in another state during the election. How can I get a
one-time ballot mailed to me there for this election if
I’m not a military or overseas voter?
Voters who are traveling out of state during the election, can
request a one-time Vote by Mail ballot
to be sent to a temporary mailing address (the address where
they’ll be during the election). Voters can request this ballot
via phone, email, or on our website here.
How do I qualify for Permanent Vote by Mail status?
Under the California Voter’s Choice Act, all registered voters in
San Mateo County will automatically receive a ballot in the mail
for statewide or federal elections.
California also allows any voter to request Permanent Vote by
Mail status. Simply complete the online form. You can
also call 650.312.5222 and request an application from our
office. A Vote by Mail ballot will automatically be sent to you
for all future special elections.
If I request a Vote by Mail ballot, can I change my mind and vote
at any Vote Center?
Yes. If you have not already cast your ballot for the election,
you may visit a Vote Center to obtain a replacement ballot or
vote in person. Your previously issued ballot will be void upon
the issuing of your replacement ballot or when you vote in
When are Vote by Mail ballots processed?
Vote by Mail ballots are processed as they are received in the
mail or picked up from the ballot drop boxes. The earlier a
ballot is mailed or placed into a drop box increases the
likelihood that it will be included in the Election Night posted
What is the California Voter’s Choice Act? How will it change the
way I vote?
The California Voter’s Choice Act fundamentally transforms
elections to an All-Mailed Ballot – Vote Center Model. California
Governor Jerry Brown signed this landmark law on September 29,
Under the law, ALL registered voters will be mailed a Vote by
Mail ballot beginning 29 days prior to Election Day, regardless
of whether you have signed up as a Vote by Mail voter or not.
Over 200 traditional neighborhood polling places countywide will
be replaced by 45 Vote Centers along with 34 Ballot Drop-off
In addition to mailing back their voted ballot, voters can also
go to ANY Vote Center to cast their ballot in person either on
paper or use a ballot marking device. You can also drop off your
ballot at ANY Vote Center, Ballot Drop-off Location or any
participating City/Town Hall in the county.
When is the first election that San Mateo County will conduct
under the California Voter’s Choice Act voting model?
San Mateo County has been selected by the State Legislature as
one of 14 pilot counties statewide authorized to conduct
elections under the California Voter’s Choice Act starting on
January 1, 2018.
On September 12, 2017, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
authorized the Chief Elections Officer to conduct the
June 5, 2018 Statewide Direct Primary
Election as the first election to be held under the
California Voter’s Choice Act.
Will all elections be conducted by this new model in the future
in San Mateo County?
This new model will affect all regularly scheduled elections.
Special elections occurring on other dates may operate
differently depending on the request of the jurisdiction(s)
calling an election.
What services will be provided to voters with disabilities?
San Mateo County engages the disabled community in every aspect
of an election, from voter education to accessible voting
options. The Sample Ballot & Official Voter Information Pamphlet
is provided in an accessible format that is screen-reader
friendly. Each Vote Center will be equipped with multiple
Disabled Access Unit eSlate voting machines and have multilingual
staff to assist in English, Spanish, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese
or Hindi. Facsimile ballots will also be mailed to voters those
precincts who receive facsimile status and who requests the
Voters with disabilities will be able to vote privately and
independently through our Accessible Vote by Mail (AVBM) system.
AVBM Voters may mark an electronic ballot in a screen-reader
accessible format and then print and return their ballot in a
postage paid envelope.
What services will be provided to the non-English preference
All information that is provided in English, including official
ballots, will also be available in Spanish and Chinese as
required by Section 203 of American Voting Rights
Act. Additionally, facsimile ballots in Filipino, Japanese
and Hindi will be displayed at all Vote Centers as required by
Elections Code Section 14201. Bilingual staff members are also
available at all Vote Centers. Facsimile ballots will also be
mailed to voters in precincts who receive facsimile status and
who request the language.
Why are we changing the way we vote? What’s wrong with the
The Hart-InterCivic voting system, purchased in 2006, has served
San Mateo County well, but it has reached the end of its useful
life. In addition, on February 27, 2019, the California Secretary
of State (SOS) advised all Registrar of Voters that any legacy
voting system not meeting the current state certification
standards would be decertified effective August 27, 2019. Our
Hart-InterCivic voting system was one of those systems.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved a contract to
lease a new voting system, called Democracy Suite, from Dominion
Voting Systems, Inc., on July 9, 2019. The Democracy Suite system
was used for the first time in the November 5, 2019 election.
Why did San Mateo County choose the Democracy Suite voting system
The new Dominion voting system, called Democracy Suite, is a
state certified, fully integrated voting system platform
providing the highest degree of election security and
transparency to the voting public. Dominion has a proven track
record in California, operating successfully in at least 40
Democracy Suite key benefits:
Voting security – certified by the California SOS; complete
How was the Dominion Democracy Suite system chosen?
On January 24, 2019, the Registration & Elections Division
released a detailed Request for Information (RFI) package to
qualified voting system vendors. During the 30-day RFI period,
three qualified vendors responded to the RFI.
These vendors were:
Dominion Voting Systems, Inc.
Election Systems and Software, LLC
All vendors underwent a rigorous competitive screening process
including detailed proposals, on-site demonstrations and a
critical review by our voting advisory committees and staff. Our
advisory committees are the Voting Accessibility Advisory
Committee (VAAC), Language Accessibility Advisory Committee
(LAAC), Voter Education and Outreach Committee (VEAOC).
Upon evaluating the proposals and considering input from our
advisory committees, our Voting System Selection Committee,
comprised of staff members, unanimously recommended the selection
of Dominion Voting Systems.
Is the new voting system easy to use?
Yes. The new Ballot Marking Tablets are easy-to-use touchscreens
and are designed to be highly intuitive.
At a Vote Center check-in station, you will be issued an
Insert the card into the base holding the Ballot Marking
Adjust the font size and screen contrast as needed; you may
change the language from English to Spanish or Chinese
To advance to the next contest, touch the “Next” button at
the bottom of the screen
Once satisfied with the selections made, touch the final
“Print Ballot” button
Your ballot will print in your voting booth. Take the ballot
and deposit it in the Ballot Box
I am a voter with accessibility needs. Will staff be there to
help me use this new system?
Yes, staff will be there to help you. However, Democracy Suite
enables new options for accessible voting and the system is
designed to help you vote privately and independently.
The Ballot Marking Tablet assists voters with visual impairments
by presenting the ballot in audio format during an Accessible
Voting Session. Headsets provide voters with audio instructions
to perform all actions, such as selecting language, adjusting
volume and speed of ballot, and reviewing, editing or changing a
An Audio Tactile Interface (ATI), a handheld device that is used
by a voter during an Accessible Voting Session, is used to
navigate through and make selections to the voter’s ballot.
Has raised buttons of different shapes and colors, with
Braille numbers and letters
Can be operated with one hand
Includes two 3.5 mm headphone jacks, one for headphones and
one for assistive devices like jelly switches, paddles or sip and
The new voting booths are designed for accessibility. The Ballot
Marking Tablet screen can be tilted to support viewing from
either a standing or seated position.
How can I be sure the Ballot Marking Tablets are working
Before any vote is cast, the Ballot Marking Tablets are tested to
make sure they work as expected. This process, known as Logic &
Accuracy (L&A) testing, ensures that votes are counted as
they have been cast. Comprehensive system testing and validation
are conducted before every election. After the election, the
Registration & Elections Division conducts a post-election manual
tally of the votes cast, that serves as an audit to validate the
results before they are made official. There are many other
security features—both in the process and in the equipment and
software—built into the election cycle.
How do I know my vote was properly recorded?
The Ballot Marking Tablet prints a ballot, showing the voter’s
selections. After printing a ballot, a voter can review the
ballot to confirm the selections made are listed properly.
Does the Ballot Marking Tablet have a paper trail?
Yes. The ballot is printed directly from each Ballot Marking
Tablet booth. Voters deposit their ballots in a Ballot Box.
Ballot Boxes are returned to the San Mateo County Registration &
Elections Division, where central scanners count the paper
ballots and tabulate votes. As ballots are reviewed during the
canvass, the system creates a complete audit trail documenting
how each ballot was interpreted and tallied.
In the case of a recount, the Registration & Elections Division
is required by state law to use the paper record as the official
What if a recount is necessary?
If a recount is necessary, the paper ballots are counted and
How do I know my votes are private?
Nothing in the system can connect you to the selections you
The Voter Card that you insert into the Ballot Marking Tablet
has no information about you; it merely includes which ballot
style you will use, determined by the address of your residence.
The Ballot Marking Tablet does not record how you voted; it
simply sends your selections to the printer.
The ballot that you print, after making your selections,
includes no information linking you to your ballot.
This means that there is no identifying information recorded with
your vote. Therefore, it is impossible to trace your vote.
What if I change my mind or make a mistake after I have touched
the “Print Ballot” button?
Using a Ballot Marking Tablet, a voter can change any vote at any
time until the final “Print Ballot” button is touched. Up to that
point, simply touch the selection you made to deselect that
choice. Then make your new selection, by touching the appropriate
box. The earlier vote is erased and the new vote is recorded.
Follow the onscreen instructions for guidance in making changes
to your ballot before you print your ballot.
If you realize you made a mistake after your ballot is printing,
please contact a Vote Center Representative for assistance.
What if I want to skip a contest?
It is your decision and right to choose not to vote in any
contest. To skip a contest, touch “Continue” at the bottom right
of the Ballot Marking Tablet. That will take you to the next
contest. After you have voted in the last contest on the ballot,
a warning screen will tell you if you have skipped a contest or
voted for fewer than the maximum number of selections in a
contest. You will have an opportunity to change your votes and to
vote in previously skipped contests.
What if I accidentally vote twice in a race? Will my vote be
The Ballot Marking Tablet will not allow you vote twice in the
same contest unless the contest allows two or more options. The
system is programmed to help make the entire voting experience
intuitive and smooth, providing assistance if needed. Prompts
will appear on-screen if more options are available. If you
change your mind and deselect one of your choices, you can then
make another choice.
How do I know that my vote has been cast?
Unlike our previous voting system, your vote is not cast until
you deposit your ballot in the Ballot Box. After you have printed
your ballot, be sure to deposit your ballot in the Ballot Box
before leaving the Vote Center.
If the power fails or if there is a machine failure, will my vote
No. If the power fails while you are voting, the selections you
have made will not be lost on the Ballot Marking Tablet, due to
the battery backup. A Vote Center Representative will assist you
in printing your ballot during a power outage or if another
Is it true that voter registration lists are used to select
citizens for jury duty?
Yes. California State Statutes require that lists of registered
voters be provided to the Jury Commissioner to be used for jury
Why am I receiving multiple jury summons?
The Jury Commissioner selects jurors from lists provided by the
Department of Motor Vehicles and the County Voter Registration
Unit. If your name appears differently on your driver’s license
and voter registration file, you may receive multiple notices. To
remedy this situation, complete a new voter registration form
with your name printed as it appears on your license and return
it to the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division
at 40 Tower Road, San Mateo. You may also re-register online
If I cancel my voter registration, can I be certain that I will
not get a summons for jury duty?
No. It has no effect on future jury duty summons. The Jury
Services Division requests a list of all active voters. The law
also requires that lists of licensed drivers, obtained from the
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), be made available to the Jury
Are there circumstances under which a voter can be required to
Vote by Mail?
If a city or district chooses to have a special election, it may
choose to have it held by mail. The Registration & Elections
Division office at 40 Tower Road in San Mateo will serve as a
Vote Center for those who wish to vote in person, need a
replacement ballot, would like language assistance or to use our
accessible Ballot Marking Tablet.
The County of San Mateo has added a translation feature developed by Google Translate to assist web visitors in understanding information on this website in a variety of foreign languages. Please be aware that Google Translate, a free third party service which the County does not control, provides automated computer translations that may not give you an exact translation. The County cannot guarantee the accuracy of translations through Google Translate so translations should not be considered exact and only used as a rough guide. Anyone relying on information obtained from Google Translate does so at his or her own risk. The County disclaims and will not accept any liability for damages or losses of any kind caused by the use of the Google Translate feature.