County’s absentee ballots pour in

Almost 43,000 voters in Tuesday’s special state Senate election have already turned in their vote-by-mail ballots, the county clerk-recorder said Wednesday, and San Luis Obispo County could surpass its turnout for the June 22 primary election.

With a week to go, 42,786 residents have returned vote-by-mail ballots, according to Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald. That is just 3,793 fewer than the number of absentee ballots submitted in the special primary in June to pick the next state senator for the 15th District.

In that election, 11,961 voted at the polls, as opposed to absentee. The vote total was 58,469.

What the numbers add up to is this: It is possible that as many as two-thirds of those casting ballots in San Luis Obispo County for the Tuesday election already have done so.

“My educated guess is that the number of ballots we have returned now represents between 60 and 70 percent of the total turnout,” Rodewald wrote The Tribune in response to a question.

Four candidates are seeking to fill the 15th District state Senate seat vacated by Abel Maldonado when he became lieutenant governor in May.

They are Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, Democrat John Laird, Libertarian Mark Hinkle and independent Jim Fitzgerald.

Blakeslee narrowly missed capturing the seat outright in June. He garnered 72,248 votes, or 49.40 percent of those cast. He needed to get 50 percent to win.

The four have a debate scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Paso Robles. Sponsored by Vision Unida and the Latino Outreach Council of San Luis Obispo County, the event will be at the Paso Robles Public Schools boardroom at 800 Niblick Road.

The 15th District extends over five counties: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara.