Assistance for Voters with Disabilities

Overview

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.

eSlate Disabled Access Units

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. This system includes the Disabled Access Unit, which features audio ballot reading technology, uniquely shaped large buttons with braille descriptions, a lower overall height to permit wheelchair-based use, and technology that permits use of adaptive interface devices such as sip-and-puff and buddy buttons to control the input.  The eSlate system, including the Disabled Access Unit, is available at 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 and here. Elections staff are trained to provide assistance at any of our voting sites.

Accessible Vote by Mail System

In 2017, the County of San Mateo introduced an Accessible Vote by Mail system, which 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. 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. Visit Accessible Vote by Mail page for more information about the Accessible Vote by Mail system.

ADA Accessible Vote Centers

Through site visits and cooperation from various facilities throughout San Mateo County, all voting locations are fully ADA accessible to voters with disabilities under ADA Title II and in compliance with guidelines set by the Secretary of State of California.

Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee

In 2015, the Registration & Elections Division founded the Voting 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 here.

How to Vote

For voters with disabilities, the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division offers four options:

  1. Request to have a Vote by Mail ballot delivered to the voter’s home by staff.

  2. Request that the Disabled Access Unit, also called the Mobile Voting Center, be brought to a convenient location during the early voting period for the voter to cast an electronic ballot privately and independently.  

  3. Request the Registration & Elections Division to arrange for free transportation to and from the voter’s closest Vote Center, including during the early voting period.

  4. Access an Accessible Vote by Mail ballot from a computer by going to  www.smcacre.org/check-my-registrationaccess-my-election-materials, calling 650.312.5222 or emailing registrar@smcare.org to request a link to their ballot be emailed to them.

Appointments are required for the first three options, and service will be available during the early voting period beginning 29 days prior to an election and on Election Day. Service appointments can be scheduled between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, and staff will remain onsite to provide assistance if requested. Voters who contact us Monday through Thursday will receive service the following day or sooner. Requests made on Fridays will receive an appointment for the following Monday or sooner if possible. Special accommodations may be arranged for service outside established hours.

Other Information

Voters and prospective voters with disabilities may contact the Registration & Elections Division at 888.762.8683 or email registrar@smcacre.org with any questions or to request assistance, including registering to vote, modifying voter registration, and requesting the early voting services described above.