Politics & Government

County voters mull lengthy mail-in ballots for Nov. 4 election

After a slow start, the number of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 4 election that have been filled out and returned is on a fairly normal track as of Wednesday, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said.

Rodewald said her office sent out about 95,000 ballots countywide starting Oct. 6 and about 17,000 — or 18 percent — of those have been returned so far.

Last week, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office was getting about 1,000 to 1,500 ballots per day. But this week, it has received up to 3,000 daily.

“Next week, we expect to see that number jump again as we get closer to the election,” Rodewald said.

The reason for a bit of a sluggish start may be that this year’s ballot is a lengthy one, with a lot of issues for voters to weigh, Rodewald said. The ballot includes state and local measures and bond issuances in addition to state and local races for political office.

“I think (the initially slow rate of return) is because of the length of the ballot and there are some propositions,” Rodewald said. “There are local measures in just about every area of the county, there are school bond measures, and several races for people to consider. It’s just a lot for people to ponder.”

Voters have been presented with large amounts of information to study and may be taking their time to learn about the issues before making their decisions.

“They have several pages of reading on issues if voters are looking at the issues in depth,” she said. “We expect to see mail-ins continue to increase every day.”

Rodewald said that so-called “top of the ticket” candidates tend to drive voter participation and this year are unlikely to prompt the kind of turnout seen during a presidential election year.

The overall voter turnout in 2012, the last presidential election, was nearly 80 percent. In non-presidential election years, the overall voter turnout typically is around 60 to 70 percent in general. In 2010, 69 percent of county voters weighed in.

For a mail-in ballot to be counted, it must be received by the county Clerk-Recorder’s Office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Rodewald advises against mailing a ballot after Oct. 30. Instead, bring the ballot to her office. On Election Day, mail-in ballots can be taken to any polling place in the county by 8 p.m.

For information on the Nov. 4 election, visit slovote.com.