Politics & Government

Tuesday's primary election: what you need to know

Cuesta College student Paul Boes votes Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Luis Obispo.
Cuesta College student Paul Boes votes Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Luis Obispo. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Tuesday is Primary Election Day

Poll hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Find your polling place: Your polling place may have changed since the last election. See the back of your sample ballot or look online at slovote.com.

No electioneering: It’s illegal to electioneer within 100 feet of a polling place on Election Day. That includes no campaign signs, buttons, clothing or other materials.

Vote-by-mail: It’s too late to mail your ballot now. Take it to the Clerk-Recorder Office in San Luis Obispo or Atascadero before 8 p.m. Tuesday. Or take it to any polling place on election day between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Election results: County elections will be posted at slovote.com. Or go to The Tribune website, sanluisobispo.com

Questions: Contact the Clerk-Recorder Office by calling 805-781-5228, emailing elections@co.slo.ca.us or going online to slovote.com

As candidates make their final frenzied pitches to voters before Tuesday’s primary election, county Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald and her staff also are gearing up for the big day.

Even after two decades as San Luis Obispo’s top election official, Rodewald said she still gets nervous in the busy hours before the polls open.

“It’s always exciting, trepidatious, butterflies in the stomach, all those things, anticipating what’s going to happen on election day,” Rodewald said.

Still, it’s the voters who star on election day.

Rodewald said 150,302 voters countywide are registered to vote in the primary: 50,231 Democrats; 59,420 Republicans; 33,382 with no party preference; and 7,269 with minor parties.

Rodewald has been preparing for the primary for months. The last training sessions for election workers were Friday and Saturday and supplies are being delivered Sunday, she said.

About 900 people will work the polls countywide. The clerk-recorder office staff of about 25 people will be aided by another 20 county employees Tuesday night. Rodewald expects to post the first returns shortly after 8 p.m. on the election website, slovote.com.

“We’ll have final numbers, if all goes well, by 11,” she said. “For sure, by midnight.”

Her office sent out mail-in ballots to 94,000 voters, but just 28,702 had been sent back by Friday, Rodewald said.

Voters need to get those mail-in ballots to the Clerk-Recorder Office by 8 p.m. Tuesday to be counted. If the ballots haven’t been mailed by now, voters should hand-deliver them either to the Clerk-Recorder Office before 8 p.m. Tuesday or take them to any polling place on election day.

“We’ll probably count every mail-in ballot we receive as of Monday” on Tuesday night, Rodewald said. “Anything turned in Tuesday will be counted later.”

That’s right. Not all votes are counted on election night. Mail-in ballots turned in on election day, provisional ballots, and ballots with write-in votes are counted later, probably by Friday, Rodewald said.

One write-in candidate has qualified for the primary — Paul Phillips, who is running for district attorney along with Tim Covello and Dan Dow. Phillips filed his candidacy papers too late to get his name on the ballot, so his supporters will need to fill in a bubble and write his name on the ballot.

Counting those votes is “incredibly time-consuming,” Rodewald said because they are counted both by hand, to check what name was written, and by machine to count the other votes cast on that ballot.

Candidates in the primary must capture more than 50 percent of the vote or the top two votegetters face off in the Nov. 4 general election.

That means several two-candidate races probably will be decided Tuesday.

In the District 2 county Board of Supervisors race, voters will pick between incumbent Bruce Gibson and challenger Muril Clift.

In Morro Bay, voters will decide between incumbent Jamie Irons and Carla Wixom.

In the DA’s race, voters may well choose a new top prosecutor unless Phillips succeeds in the unlikely task of getting enough write-in votes to prevent Covello or Dow from winning a majority.

Several races could continue to November:

The District 4 supervisor race, where Mike Byrd, Lynn Compton and incumbent Caren Ray have spent an unprecedented amount of money for a South County campaign; two seats on the Morro Bay City Council being fought over by John Headding, incumbent Nancy Johnson and Matt Makowetski; and the county clerk-recorder seat, where Ann Danko, Tommy Gong and Amanda King are vying to replace Rodewald, who retires at the end of the year.

Local voters will also vote in the 35th District state Assembly race between incumbent Katcho Achadjian and Heidi Harmon, although the primary is essentially a dress rehearsal since the two automatically face each other in the Nov. 4 general election.

Local voters also will choose among nine candidates in the 24th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives now held by Lois Capps. The top two votegetters in these races will go to a runoff in November.

Statewide races on the ballot are for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, insurance commissioner, state board of equalization and state superintendent of public instruction.