Vote by Mail


Permanent Vote by Mail

Effective January 1, 2002, the California Elections Code allows any registered voter to become a Permanent Vote by Mail voter (Chapter 922, AB 1520, 2001 Statutes).

When an application for Permanent Vote by Mail status is received and processed by the Registration & Elections Division, all election materials including an official ballot will automatically be mailed to the voter for each election in which the voter is qualified to participate, usually within 20 days before an election. The voter no longer needs to submit a Vote by Mail ballot request for each subsequent election.


Vote by Mail FAQs

How much time do I have to return my Vote by Mail ballot?

Vote by Mail ballots must be received by the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division on or before 8 p.m. on Election Day, or be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the Friday after Election Day.

You may drop off your Vote by Mail ballot at any polling location in the county, any city hall or at any of the three Voting Centers (Redwood City, San Mateo and South San Francisco) before 8 p.m. Election Day and it will be counted.

What should I do if I think my Vote by Mail ballot will not arrive at the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division by the 8 p.m. deadline?

You may come use our 24-hour ballot drop box located at 40 Tower Road in San Mateo up until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Also, on Election Day, you may return your Vote by Mail ballot to any polling place, city hall or Voting Center in San Mateo County between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What should I do if I cannot return my Vote by Mail ballot myself and it is too late to send it in the mail?

You may authorize a relative (spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother or sister) or any person residing in the same household to return your ballot. On the return envelope, you must sign your name and print the name of the person you are authorizing to return your ballot. That person must also sign in the space provided.

If I lose the Vote by Mail ballot sent to me, can I get another one?

Yes. Call the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division at 650.312.5222 and a second ballot will be sent to you. You must sign the statement sent to you with the second ballot indicating you have lost or did not receive your Vote by Mail ballot.

You may also go to your regular polling place or San Mateo County Voting Center. You may be asked to vote a provisional ballot.

I am out of the country and the mail is slow. Can I apply earlier than the normal 29 days?

Yes. Go to this website and follow the directions. You may receive a special Vote by Mail ballot that can be sent out as early as 60 days prior to an election.

How do I qualify for Permanent Vote by Mail status?

California allows any voter to request Permanent Vote by Mail status. Simply complete the online form. You can also call 650.312.5222 and request an application from our office. A Vote by Mail ballot will automatically be sent to you for all future elections.

If I request a Vote by Mail ballot, can I change my mind and vote at my regular polling place?

Yes. But please take your ballot to the polling place or the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division and turn it in to the Vote Center Representative in exchange for the right to vote a regular precinct ballot. If you do not have your Vote by Mail ballot, you will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot at the polling place. Your provisional ballot will be counted after the Elections Officials confirm that you did not previously vote using your Vote by Mail ballot for that election.