Public Welcome to Observe Opening & Processing of Vote by Mail Ballots for the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election
Public Invited to Observe Voting Systems in Action

New Site Press Release

Contact: Mark Church, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder
Alternate: Jim Irizarry, Assistant Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder

(Redwood City, CA) Beginning Tuesday, October 13, the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division’s authorized staff will begin opening and processing returned Vote by Mail ballots for the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election.

Election officials may open the return envelopes containing voted mail ballots beginning 29 business days before Election Day. Operating hours for opening and processing will be daily, Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. or until all ballots are processed for the day, until the Official Canvass is complete.

For each ballot, an election official will compare the voter’s signature on the outside of the envelope to the signature on the voter’s original registration application or other updated signatures on file.

The ballot is separated from the envelope to preserve secrecy. The envelope is saved for the mandatory retention period, and the ballot is digitally scanned. The tabulation of the scanned ballots will not be reported until the close of voting at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Those interested in observing the process may come to the Registration & Elections Division office at 40 Tower Road, San Mateo at any time, or make prior arrangements by contacting Elections Supervisor Michael Lui at 650.312.5238 or Observers will receive a copy of the Election Observer Program Guidelines, which specifies observer rights, responsibilities and limitations, and a copy of the Vote by Mail Processing Procedures.

Registered voters may use the “My Election Info” link at to verify when ballot materials were mailed and when the Registration & Elections Division received their voted ballot.

The last day for registered voters to request a ballot to be mailed to them for the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election is Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Voted mail ballots can be returned in one of the following ways:

  • Mail your ballot in the POSTAGE-PAID ENVELOPE. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, November 3, 2020, and received by the Registration & Elections Division no later than Friday, November 20, 2020.
  • Drop off your ballot at any Official Ballot Drop Box located throughout the county.
  • Or drop off your ballot at any Vote Center daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. before Election Day and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

A full list of Vote Center locations can be found online at and select “All Vote Center Locations” or at

November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election – COVID-19 Prepared

All Vote Centers comply with San Mateo County Health Department and CDC COVID-19 safety standards. Voters are expected to wear masks and adhere to all social distancing requirements. For more information on the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election, please call 650.312.5222, visit or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @smcvote.

The Registration & Elections Division also offers a toll-free hotline, 888.SMC.VOTE (888.762.8683), to assist voters in any language.