April 1, 2011

Contact: Mark Church, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder
Alternate: David Tom, Elections Manager

(Redwood City, CA) The upcoming May 3, 2011 Consolidated Local Special Election is a historic election for San Mateo County as it will be the first time that everyone in the county will vote by mail.  No polling places will be open for voting. Five voting centers will be open for in-person voting on the accessible eSlates.  Both Elections Offices will serve as Voting Centers during the 29-day period before the election. Three additional Voting Centers will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week of April 25-29.  These centers will be located at the Millbrae Community Center, the Half Moon Bay Library and the Galleria Room at Serramonte Del Rey. City Halls throughout the county will provide ballot drop-off boxes between April 4 through May 3 during regular business hours. (Hours and days of operation vary city to city.)

“I want to get the word out to every voter in the county—there will be no polls open on Election Day. The Vote by Mail packet that they will get in the mail this week contains an official ballot, a postage paid return envelope and a Voter Information Pamphlet for this election. When a voter is ready to vote, he/she should ‘mark it and mail it,’” Mark Church, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder advised.

“For the voters who wait until Election Day to make up their mind and vote, two Voting Centers (San Mateo’s located at 40 Tower Road and Redwood City’s located at 555 County Center, 1st Floor) will be open for dropping off voted ballots or in-person voting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters can also drop off a voted ballot at any city hall in the county but it must be done during their regular business hours,” Church noted.

“Voting by mail is a very convenient method of voting; it gives a voter the flexibility of voting on their own schedule from the convenience of their own home,” Church noted.  “I believe that once voters have the opportunity to try it, many more will sign up.”

Of the 340,838 eligible registered voters in San Mateo County, 46% percent or 158,967 are already signed up as permanent Vote by Mail voters. The growing popularity of voting by mail in California has been widely reported.

With the passage of Measure U in November 2010, voters gave the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors the option to call an all-mail countywide special election to fill a board seat if one became vacant mid-term. In December 2010, the board called a special election to give voters the chance to elect the next member of the board to fill the vacant seat in District 1 and exercised the newly granted option to conduct this countywide special election by mail. Since that time, the three school districts, the Ravenswood City School District, San Carlos School District and the Jefferson Union High School District have also placed measures on the May 3 ballot.

Conducting this countywide special election by mail will save taxpayers about $500,000, or 30% of the cost of a regular election. The savings will result from the fact that no time, money or effort will be spent to secure polling places, test hundreds of pieces of voting equipment, hire, train and compensate poll workers, deliver and secure voting equipment to hundreds of locations, and unpack and account for the materials after election day. 

Another savings will come from the consolidation of the traditional voter pamphlet into a Vote by Mail packet. Ordinarily, every voter is mailed a Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet and then nearly half of the voters are mailed a Vote by Mail packet. In this election, all voters will receive one packet that contains everything—an official ballot, a postage-paid return envelope, and the voter information ordinarily contained in the voter pamphlet (e.g., candidate statements, measure information, voting instructions and voter resources thus saving postage, paper and resources).

“Combining the Official Voter Information Pamphlet & Sample Ballot into a single Vote by Mail packet will be a sea change for half of the county’s voters who don’t currently vote by mail,” Church noted. “I want to encourage voters to put the Vote by Mail Packet in a safe place so that when they’re ready to vote, it will be easy to find and easy to vote.”

The Official Voter Information Pamphlet helps to educate voters by publishing voluntarily submitted candidate statements, ballot measures and related arguments and rebuttals, and helpful voting information. The Official Voter Information Pamphlet is also posted on the Elections web site, www.shapethefuture.org, by choosing the Check My Registration/Election Information button on the homepage. Visually impaired voters may request a copy of the county’s Official Voter Information Pamphlet on audiotape by calling 650.312.5222.

The federal Voting Rights Act ensures that all voters have language accessible election information. Voters in San Mateo County can request election materials in Chinese or Spanish at anytime.

“We ask voters to return their voted ballots no later than April 26 to ensure that the United States Post Office has enough time to deliver ballots to the Elections Office on or before Election Day. By law, we cannot accept or count ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day, even if the date of postmark is before the date of the election,” Church explained.

For more information regarding the upcoming Consolidated Local Special Election, check the Elections web site, www.shapethefuture.org, call the Elections Division at 650.312.5222 or email registrar@smcare.org.

The press release is displayed in its original format. San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder & Elections website now resides at www.smcacre.org

Related Contacts

Mark Church

Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder and Chief Elections Officer
555 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063-1665Get Directions

Jim Irizarry

Asst. Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder & Asst. Chief Elections Officer
555 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063-1665Get Directions