Elections

SLO County to send out record number of vote-by-mail ballots

Cindy Osgood, temporary election worker with the San Luis Obispo County Clerk’s Office prepares mail-in ballots to be sent out to voters in 2014.
Cindy Osgood, temporary election worker with the San Luis Obispo County Clerk’s Office prepares mail-in ballots to be sent out to voters in 2014. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

For the first time in its history, San Luis Obispo County is expected to send out about 100,000 vote-by-mail ballots in advance of the June 7 primary.

San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong said that this year two-thirds of the county’s 150,000 registered voters have signed up to vote by mail — the highest amount the county has ever seen.

“It’s been growing for years,” he said. “I think it was eight or six years ago that I told (retired Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald) that, ‘Wow — we are at 75,000.’ And then it was 85,000 and 95,000. I’ve always wondered when we would hit the 100,000 mark. And with the way things are going, we should easily hit and pass that this primary.”

The ballots will be sent out Monday, he said, though the county will likely get more requests for mail-in ballots as the primary approaches.

There are, of course, those people who will always like the tradition of neighborhood polling places, but I think that is definitely on the way out.

Tommy Gong, San Luis Obispo County clerk-recorder

Gong said the number of people choosing to vote by mail has been growing steadily for several years, and he anticipates that trend will continue to the point that every registered voter receives their ballot through the mail and voters use physical polling places sparingly — or not at all.

“I think voters have been getting used to the idea of having the ballot sent to them in the mail and the convenience of that,” he said. “At the same time there are, of course, those people who will always like the tradition of neighborhood polling places, but I think that is definitely on the way out.”

On the topic of polling places, Gong said voters should be aware that on June 7, the Cayucos Veterans Memorial Lions Hall will not be one of the 78 places across the county where voters can cast their votes. (The hall, which has previously served as a central polling place for the area in past election years, was temporarily closed last week to address structural problems.)

The decision to close the Veterans Hall came after election packets were printed, so it is still listed as a polling place in information being sent to voters, although the polls will be moved about six blocks away to Cayucos Community Church at 60 S. Third St., Gong said. On June 7, signs will be posted in front of the hall directing voters to the church.

Gong said another change voters should be aware of this year is that mail-in ballots postmarked on Election Day will be counted and included in the final election tally, as long as they are received within three days of the election. In previous years, mail-in ballots had to be received by Election Day.

“It’s not something I heartily promote because it is always better to get your ballot in earlier and on-time,” Gong said. “But it does help the majority of those last-minute voters and give them more opportunities to have their vote counted.”

The deadline to register and still be eligible to vote in the June 7 primary is May 23.

Those interested in registering can go online to the county’s election website — SLOVote.com — and click the “register to vote” button on the page. Registrants are then directed to an online application through the California Secretary of State’s website, which records the registration and sends it back to the county.

What’s on the local June 7 primary ballot:

  • President
  • U.S. Senate
  • U.S. House of Representatives, 24th District
  • California Senate, 17th District
  • California Assembly, 35th District
  • Superior Court judges
  • County supervisors, Districts 1, 3 and 5
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