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.
The Secretary of State’s website enables you to fill
out a voter registration form online. The online form uses your
signature on file with the DMV. If you have no DMV signature, you
can print out the form and mail it in.
When must I re-register to vote?
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 at the San Mateo County Registration & Elections
Division, 40 Tower Road, San Mateo. Your vote will be counted
once you’re confirmed as an eligible voter. Other satellite
locations may be designated.
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. However, 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.
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.
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
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 by
the Friday after Election Day.
You may drop off your Vote by Mail ballot at any Vote Center in
the County, any city hall or at any of the four Voting Centers
(Redwood City, San Mateo, East Palo Alto, and South San
Francisco) before 8 p.m. Election Day and it will be
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?
You may come use our 24-hour ballot drop box located at 40 Tower
Road in San Mateo up until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Also, on
Election Day, you may return your Vote by Mail ballot to any Vote
Center, Ballot Drop-Off Box location, or city hall in San Mateo
County between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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 a relative (spouse, child, parent, grandparent,
grandchild, brother or sister) or any person residing in the
same household 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 provided.
If I lose the Vote by Mail ballot sent to me, can I get another
Yes. Call the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division
at 650.312.5222 and a second ballot will be sent to you. You must
sign the statement sent to you with the second ballot indicating
you have lost or did not receive your Vote by Mail ballot.
You may also go to any Vote Center.
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?
California 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 any Vote Center in the County to obtain a
replacement ballot. Your previously issued ballot will be void
upon the issuing of your replacement ballot.
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 39 Vote Centers along with 26 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 on the voting machine. 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 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 will be used for the first
time in the November 5, 2019 election.
Why did San Mateo County choose the Democracy
Suite voting system from Dominion?
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 CA
SOS; complete audit trail
How was the Dominion Democracy Suite system chosen?
On January 24, 2019, the 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
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 activation
Insert the card into the Ballot Marking Tablet
Adjust the font size and screen contrast as
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”
Your ballot will print in the 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 without assistance.
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 write-in selection.
An Audio Tactile Interface (ATI), a handheld device that is used
by a voter during an Accessible Voting Session, is used to
navigate though and make selections to the
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 correctly?
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’s printed ballot lists 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
Yes. The ballot is printed directly from the Ballot
Marking Tablet. Voters deposit their ballots in the
Ballot Boxes. 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
In the case of a recount, the Registration & Elections
Division is required by state law to use the paper
record as the official vote tally.
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 voted.
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
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 unselect 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
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 problem arises.
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.
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?
Yes. There are circumstances under which a voter can be required
to Vote by Mail. If a precinct has fewer than 250 registered
voters on the 88th day before an election, that precinct can be
declared by the Elections Official to be a “Mail Ballot
Precinct.” All Mail Ballot voters are notified of the change in
status and mailed an official ballot.
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.