Voting FAQs


Where do I go to vote?

On Election Day, polling places will be open throughout San Mateo County. You will find your designated polling place on the back of your Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet or online at Check My Registration/Access My Election Materials/View My Sample Ballot Pamphlet. Registered voters may vote in person at their designated polling place, request a replacement ballot, or drop off their voted ballot. Personnel will be on hand to help voters requesting assistance.

When are the polls open for voting?

Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. By law, you have a right to vote if you are in line at the polling place by the close of the polls.

Why was my polling place changed?

In California, there are no permanent poll sites. Locations may change from election to election. Sometimes a facility that was used previously may not be available for a particular election. Changes to precinct boundaries may sometimes occur when precincts are consolidated or realigned, especially for local elections that are not statewide.

Voters should always refer to their Sample Ballot booklet or go online to the Check My Registration/Voter Information page to find the location of a polling place before going to the polls to vote.

Can I take my Sample Ballot or my own written voting choices into the voting booth?

Yes. It is recommended that you mark your voting choices in your Sample Ballot and take it to your poll site on Election Day. You can refer to your Sample Ballot to make your choices. Remember to take your Sample Ballot out of the voting booth after you have completed voting.

If I do not know what to do when I get to the polling place, will someone help me?

Yes. Ask the Vote Center Representatives to help you with the voting process. Vote Center Representatives cannot, however, help you in making decisions on your voting choices.

I only speak limited English, is there oral assistance or are written voting materials available in languages other than English?

Yes. In accordance with federal law, San Mateo County provides voter registration information, election materials and oral assistance in English, Spanish and Chinese. Additionally, poll sites that have been identified as requiring oral language assistance are staffed with bilingual Vote Center Representatives whenever possible. Signs are posted in those locations identifying the minority languages spoken.

Can I vote for someone whose name is not listed on the ballot?

Yes. You may vote for a write-in candidate whose name is not printed or displayed on the ballot. Only votes for qualified write-in candidates will be counted. Ask Vote Center Representatives or call the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division at 650.312.5222 for a list of qualified write-in candidates. Elections Officials can also assist you with write-in voting procedures.

I have to work and therefore have no time to vote, what should I do?

According to California Elections Code, employees are eligible for paid time off for the purpose of voting only if they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. Employees can be given as much time as they need in order to vote, but only a maximum of two hours is paid. Alternatively, we encourage voters to sign up to Vote by Mail. Any registered voter in California can sign up to Vote by Mail by using this online form.

How do I vote if I can’t get to my polling place?

You can Vote by Mail by using this online form or by sending a request for a Vote by Mail ballot to the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division, 40 Tower Road, San Mateo CA 94402. The required information includes your name as registered, residence address, mailing address if different, your date of birth, the election which you are applying for and your signature. You may also choose to vote in person at the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division in San Mateo and Redwood City beginning 29 days before each election.