Special election cost San Luis Obispo County half a million

The June 22 special primary election to fill a vacant state Senate seat will cost between $450,000 and $500,000, county Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald has estimated.

Another special election to decide the outcome of that same race is scheduled Aug. 17. There is no dollar estimate on that election yet.

In a report that Rodewald will present to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday certifying the June 22 election results, Rodewald said the county found ways to reduce costs, such as consolidating precincts.

She thanked the 650 people who covered polling places and said she is “especially grateful of the efforts from other county departments assisting … to conduct two statewide elections within two weeks.”

The special primary took place two weeks after the June 8 statewide primary.

The election became necessary in the 15th state Senate District when incumbent Abel Maldonado, who was slightly more than halfway though his term, accepted an appointment as lieutenant governor from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger chose the dates of the special elections despite complaints from registrars of voters and boards of supervisors in all five affected counties that it would unnecessarily force them to spend money they don’t have. The expense for the five counties combined is in the millions of dollars.

Two of the four candidates, Democrat John Laird and independent Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo, asked that Schwarzenegger consolidate one of the two elections with the November general election, but the governor chose not to.

Another candidate, Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, said he will try to get the money back for the counties from the state.

Libertarian Mark Hinkle is the fourth candidate.

In her report to supervisors, Rodewald said $175,000 of the half-million dollars will come from the general fund and the remainder from “unanticipated clerk-recorder revenue and expenditure savings.”

Blakeslee finished first in the five-county tally but fell short of the 50 percent he needed to win outright. He took 49.40 percent to 41.81 percent for Laird, 5.89 percent for Fitzgerald and 2.9 percent for Hinkle.In San Luis Obispo County, he won big, with 57.63 percent of the vote, followed by Laird with 32.68 percent, Fitzgerald with 7.19 percent, Hinkle with 2.3 percent, and write-ins at 0.2 percent.

In the county, nearly 61 percent of those who voted cast their ballots by mail. There were 58,591 ballots cast, and 35,664 of them were mailed, according to Tommy Gong, assistant clerk-recorder.