Overview of Results Reporting
Election results may take up to thirty days to finalize. Find out why below.


Election Night

Results are not final at the end of election night due to the large number of ballots still to count. About 85% of all ballots are expected to be Vote by Mail ballots. In the 2018 elections under the Voter’s Choice Act model, 40-45% of all Vote by Mail ballots were received on Election Day and the three days after that. None of the Vote by Mail ballots received on Election Day will be included in election night reports. This means that the election night results may be significantly different from the final results.

The first results report will be released at 8:10 p.m. on election night. This report will include Vote by Mail ballots received in the mail by the Monday before Election Day and Vote by Mail ballots returned at Vote Centers and Drop Boxes by the Sunday before Election Day.

Starting at 9:00 p.m., the results from Vote Centers will start to be reported. Results will be updated every half hour until all Vote Center ballots have been counted. Vote Center ballots will be returned to the Registration & Elections Division for scanning. Vote Centers are spread across the county and may only close after every voter in line at 8 p.m. has cast their ballot. Due to this, ballots will continue to arrive and be counted until well past midnight.

When all Vote Center ballots have been counted, the Final Election Night Report will be posted.

Official Canvass

During the days and weeks following Election Day, the remaining ballots are counted. These ballots include Vote by Mail ballots received on Election Day and the three days following along with any conditional voter registration ballots and provisional ballots. Under California Elections Code, the Elections Office can count Vote by Mail ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than three days after Election Day.

On the evening of Wednesday, March 4, an updated report on the number of ballots received will be posted on smcacre.org. This number will include Vote by Mail ballots, conditional voter registration ballots, and provisional ballots.

On Thursday, March 5, updated results will be posted at 4:30 p.m. Results will be updated every weekday from March 6 to March 13 at 4:30 p.m. The Registration & Elections Division is shifting to minimal staffing for COVID-19 mitigation. In compliance with the order from the County Health Officer, the Elections Division located at 40 Tower Road in San Mateo will be closed to the public effective Tuesday, March 17 as a precautionary measure. The Registration & Elections Division will continue to process all ballots as normal. The election will be certified no later than April 1, 2020, within the statutory deadline. The next results report will be the official Statement of the Vote. Election results are not final until all eligible ballots are counted.

All Vote by Mail ballot envelope signatures must be verified, extracted from their envelopes, then scanned before the results can be reported. Conditional voter registration and provisional ballots must be researched before the voter’s eligibility can be confirmed and the provisional ballot counted.

Vote by Mail ballots can be “challenged” for a number of reasons, such as the signature on the ballot envelope not matching the voter registration record, or because the voter didn’t sign the ballot envelope at all. A voter whose ballot has been “challenged” due to a signature issue can verify their signature until 5 p.m. on March 30, 2020.

One Percent Manual Tally

The one percent manual tally is a legally required election canvassing procedure that takes place after the polls have closed on Election Day to ensure the accuracy of the vote before the official results are certified. The procedure begins with the randomized selection of precincts from Vote Centers and batches of Vote by Mail ballots through a dice roll using three ten-sided dice. Ballots will then be tallied by hand to verify the reported results. For each contest not included in the one percent manual tally, an additional voting precinct or batch with that contest will be tallied.

Certification of the Election

The results are expected to be certified on April 1, 2020.