Vote Using Accessible Vote-by-Mail System

Accesible Voting

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: On June 18, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 860, which requires California counties to mail ballots to all registered voters for the November 3, 2020, Consolidated General Election and permits all voters to use a remote accessible vote-by-mail (AVBM) system to access their ballots. Accordingly, the Department of Elections will mail ballot packets and open its AVBM System to all registered San Francisco voters starting 29 days before the November 3 election.

If you plan to access your ballot via the AVBM System, we invite you to explore this page and to contact the Department of Elections with any questions.

To learn more about the voting options available to City voters in the upcoming election, we invite you to visit Ways to Vote.

Introduction to the AVBM System

The Accessible Vote-by-Mail (AVBM) System allows voters to mark screen readable vote-by-mail ballots using common internet-connected devices, such as computers or tablets, and is compatible with personal assistive technology such as screen readers, head-pointers, and sip and puffs. For security reasons, the AVBM system does not store or transmit votes over the internet. After marking an AVBM ballot, a voter must download and print the ballot and return the ballot printout by mail or in person in a timely manner, just as vote-by-mail voters who use official paper ballots must do.

Accessing the AVBM System

Previously, the AVBM System was limited to voters with disabilities and military and overseas voters. New law permits any registered voter to access the system for the November 3, 2020, Consolidated General Election.

San Francisco’s AVBM System will be open from October 5, 2020 through 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, 2020.

To access a ballot through the AVBM System, visit sfelections.org/access, and input your birthday, house number, and ZIP code.

Voters can access the AVBM System using common operating systems, including Windows 8.1 and 10, and MacOS Sierra, High Sierra and El Capitan; and common browsers, including Edge 14+, IE 11, Firefox 56+, Chrome 61+, and Safari.

The System is compatible with common screen readers, including Windows Narrator, JAWS 16+, NVDA 2017+, and Voiceover.

For AVBM questions or technical support, please call the Department of Elections between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may also email questions to the Department at any time (please allow at least 24 hours for a response):

Marking Your AVBM Ballot

Once logged in to AVBM portal, voters can read or listen to voting instructions, connect an assistive device such as a head pointer or sip and puff, or adjust the font, contrast, and language settings as desired. After marking and reviewing ballot selections, a voter will need to print the ballot.

If your computer is not connected to a printer, you may save your marked ballot as a PDF to print elsewhere. For example, you can save your marked ballot to a USB drive and print it later at a public library or a friend’s house.

Returning Your AVBM Ballot

The easiest way to return an AVBM ballot printout is to use the official ballot return envelope enclosed with vote-by-mail packets that all registered voters will receive in October (see Method A).

If you do not have the official return envelope, you can request a replacement by contacting the Department. From October 30 to November 3, when it is too late to mail a replacement envelope, you can request the envelope at a voting center or use two plain envelopes (see Method B).

To be counted, you must return your ballot on time! Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3 (check collection times if you use a blue USPS mailbox to mail your envelope on November 3), and received by the Department by November 20, 2020. Ballots returned in person must be dropped off no later than 8 p.m. on November 3. See ballot drop-off hours and locations in San Francisco (coming soon).

Method A. Return your AVBM ballot printout using the official ballot return envelope enclosed with the vote-by-mail packet you received in the mail:

  1. Place your ballot printout into your official ballot return envelope.
  2. Complete all applicable sections on the return envelope.You must sign the envelope for your ballot to be counted! (The official return envelope features signature line punch-outs to assist voters with visual impairments in locating the signature field. The envelope also provides instructions on how voters unable to sign may substitute a witnessed mark for a signature.)
  3. Peel away the self-sealing strip to seal the envelope and return it by mail (postage-paid) or in person to any voting center or polling place. All 588 polling places throughout the City will be open for vote-by-mail ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. You may also authorize another person to drop off your ballot for you.

Method B. Return your AVBM ballot printout using two plain envelopes:

  1. Place your ballot printout into a plain envelope, then seal the envelope.
  2. Write “Official Ballot –To Be Opened Only by the San Francisco Department of Elections” on the front.
  3. Enclose a Ballot Return Form (PDF), along with your ballot envelope, in a 2nd envelope.
    1. To return your ballot by mail, place a stamp on the outer envelope, and mail it to:
                          San Francisco Department of Elections
                          1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
                          City Hall, Ste. 48
                          San Francisco, CA 94102
    2. To return your ballot in person, visit any voting center on or before Election Day or polling place. All 588 polling places throughout the City will be open for vote-by-mail ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. You may also authorize another person to drop off your ballot for you.

Both Method A and Method B will allow the Department to conduct the required signature comparison on the envelope with the signature in your voter registration record while protecting the secrecy of your ballot during processing. If your signature has changed since you last registered to vote, be sure to reregister with your new signature as soon as possible.

Tracking Your AVBM Ballot

Voters can track the status of their ballots as they move through the process by using the Voter Portal or calling (415) 554-4375 or toll-free (866) 325-9163.

Once you return your AVBM ballot printout, you can track it through the following steps:

  1. The Department is in receipt of your voted ballot
  2. The Department has verified the signature on the return envelope (or on the Ballot Return Form, if you return your form in two regular envelopes)
  3. The return envelope has been accepted and is ready to be opened
  4. The Department has removed the ballot from the return envelope
  5. The Department has counted the ballot.

Voters can also choose to receive automatic notifications on the status or their ballots via email, SMS (text), or voice call. Visit wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov to sign up for this service.