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San Mateo County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder-Elections
Shape the Future. Vote!

Official Election Site of San Mateo County

MARK CHURCH, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder

How to mark a paper ballot


Marking ballots is the same for Vote by Mail Voters, Polling Place Voters & Early Voters


how to mark a paper ballotMarking a paper ballot is the same whether you vote by mail or vote at the polls.  The ballots are the same. The only difference is how you cast your vote – in person or by mail.


  1. Remove the ballot stub from ballot; keep it - it’s your receipt.

  2. Use a black or blue ink pen to fill in the box of your choice on the ballot. To AVOID bleed through on your ballot, do NOT use a felt tip pen or a highlighter pen.

  3. If you make a mistake and you are voting by mail, you can mark an X in the spoiled ballot box on the back flap of the return envelope.  We will mail a new ballot to you, if we receive your spoiled ballot no later than 7 days prior to the election.  Otherwise, you will need to come to the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division or go to the polls. 

    If you make a mistake at the polls, see the Poll Worker on duty, give them your spoiled ballot and ask for a new one.

  4. Double-check your choices.

  5. Sign the inside back flap of the envelope and fold the signature flap over to cover your signature. (This is important! In order to count your ballot, we must match your signature on the envelope with the signature in your voter registration record.)




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Registration & Elections Division
40 Tower Road, San Mateo, CA 94402
Phone: (650) 312-5222
Fax: (650) 312-5348
Email: registrar@smcare.org


Assistance for Voters with Disabilities:

Dial 711 For Telecommunications Relay Service
Phone: 1 (888) 762-8683
Language Assistance
Phone: 1 (888) 762-8683 or 1 (888) SMC-VOTE