The California Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) is landmark legislation which fundamentally transformed the manner in which elections are conducted in the State of California. San Mateo County is proud to be one of 15 counties authorized by the State to conduct elections under the law. The June 5, 2018 Statewide Direct Primary Election was the first election held under the California Voter’s Choice Act.
The California Voter’s Choice Act changes the traditional polling place election model to an All-Mailed Ballot - Vote Center model with ballot drop-off locations. The primary goal of this legislation is to expand accessibility and voting opportunities for all voters, particularly those with disabilities and language minorities.
The California Voter’s Choice Act requires all counties conducting elections under the Act to prepare a draft Election Administration Plan (EAP) and after public comment, an Amended Draft EAP for the administration of elections under the law.
In an effort to continually improve the VCA elections model, the law requires the Chief Elections Officer to hold additional public hearings within two years of conducting the first election and every four years thereafter, to consider revisions to the EAP.
The Registration & Elections Division amended the 2018 EAP to incorporate proposed changes from community groups and stakeholders following the November 6, 2018 Statewide General Election.
The Draft EAP for 2020-2024 was a collaborative effort prepared in consultation with our community partners and stakeholders. It incorporated many of the recommendations obtained from our public hearing held December 10, 2019 with our language and disability communities and the general public. The public hearing was in the Board Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City.
With the posting of our Draft EAP, the public was provided a 14-day comment period. Following the comment period, an Amended Draft EAP incorporated additional feedback and was once again, followed by a comment period. Upon conclusion of the comment period, the County’s Final EAP for 2020-2024 was formally adopted and submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the January 2020-January 2024 Election Administration Plan required changes for the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election. A Supplement to the EAP for the November election was written. The Registration & Elections Division followed the Election Administration Guidance under COVID-19 by the California Secretary of State (revised 8/27/2020). As state and local public health orders are modified, we will take all possible steps to ensure the safety of workers and voters. Training and outreach was mainly by online meetings instead of in-person.
Assembly Bill 860 provided the framework for the SOS guidance. Due to the pandemic, counties:
- Provided universal access to our Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM) system.
- Extended the deadline to receive Vote by Mail ballots postmarked on Election Day to the 17th day after Election Day.
- Began the processing of Vote by Mail ballots on the 29th day before the election.
All of the above were specific to the November 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election.
A new Supplement to the EAP has been prepared for the September 14, 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall Election and the November 2, 2021 Special Election. Senate Bill 152 provided changes for these elections which will expire at the end of 2021. These include:
- Universal access to our Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM) system.
- Deadline to receive Vote by Mail ballots postmarked on Election Day is the 7th day after Election Day.
- The processing of Vote by Mail ballots on the 29th day before the election.
The Registration & Elections Division is optimistic that we will be able to follow our standing Election Administration Plan in 2022.
The VCA Process
All registered voters in San Mateo County will be mailed their ballot 29 days before regularly scheduled elections. You can choose from 3 different ways to return your voted ballot:
You can vote and mail your ballot in the postage-paid return envelope on or before Election Day.
You can return your voted ballot to a secure Ballot Drop-off Box. Voters will find Ballot Drop-off Boxes throughout San Mateo County starting 29 days before the election.
Vote Centers look and feel like polling places, but provide additional services and options for voters. You can go to any Vote Center in San Mateo County to:
- Vote on an accessible Ballot Marking Device
- Vote on a paper ballot
- Access election materials in a range of languages
- Receive assistance from staff fluent in English, Spanish, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Burmese, Hindi and Japanese
- Drop off your ballot
- Receive a replacement ballot
- Register to vote or update registration information through Election Day
Vote Centers will be located throughout San Mateo County.
Be Part of the Process
Help ensure your community knows how, when and where to vote. Check the website for updates.
Contact us: 650.312.5222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Polling Place and Vote Center Elections between 2014 and 2020