UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder's office has added 197 ballots to the total of those left to be counted from Tuesday’s general election, bringing the new total to 30,109, according to a news release issued Thursday.
The remaining ballots will begin to be tallied Friday, the county's next scheduled counting day, and updated election results are due by the end of the day, officials said. The totals could tip the balance of several close races.
The new sum for uncounted ballots accounts for vote-by-mail ballots that were "inadvertently omitted from the count released (Tuesday)," according to the statement.
The ballots are from all over San Luis Obispo County, Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said. "They were turned in at the polls and were on a bottom shelf in our cabinets and did not get noticed until we did our double-check this morning," she added.
Elections staff is now checking signatures and preparing the leftover vote-by-mail ballots for counting Friday.
Staff is also working on ballots that need duplication for contests that have close races, according to the news release. Ballots need duplication when they couldn't be read by the counting machines because they were damaged, such as being torn, Rodewald said.
Staff uses a device that duplicates the votes from the damaged ballot to a new ballot. Staff also assigns serial numbers to both ballots so it can be verified that the ballot was duplicated correctly, she added.
Original story: Thousands of ballots cast in San Luis Obispo County still need to be counted, Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said Wednesday.
The 29,912 outstanding ballots could ultimately tip the balance of the Clerk-Recorder’s unofficial election night results released early Wednesday morning.
That means some local races such as the City Council and school board races in Paso Robles are still up in the air. In the council race, only 44 votes separate Fred Strong and challenger Jim Reed for the second seat while a mere seven votes separate Chris Bausch and Tim Gearhart on the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board.
The uncounted ballots represent vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling places Tuesday as well as provisional ballots and damaged ballots.
Vote-by-mail ballots take more time because they have to be pre-processed before they are counted — including entering that the ballot has been returned to protect against double voting and verifying the voter's signature against the signature on file in the Clerk-Recorder’s Office, according to county officials.
Provisional ballots represent those who voted with a new home address or opted to re-do a ballot, while damaged ballots are ones with stray marks or tears.