More San Luis Obispo County residents are registered to vote in the upcoming June 7 presidential primary than ever before.
County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong said following Monday’s deadline to register to vote in the primary, the county has 155,804 registered voters — an all-time high for a presidential primary.
“It’s just hopping, as far as voter interest is concerned,” Gong said. “We’ve never had — in my career at least — a presidential primary show as much voter interest in the registrations.”
Republicans still outnumber Democrats, but voter interest seemed to be running higher among Democrats, with a nearly 9 percent jump in registered Democrats compared to a 3 percent increase in registered Republicans since the last presidential primary.
It’s just hopping, as far as voter interest is concerned
Tommy Gong, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder
Gong said registration applications have been flowing into the office at a quick pace: At its peak, the office received about 1,300 online applications and a few hundred paper applications a day.
“We saw it building up, with the voter interest being shown early on in this election cycle, even months ago,” Gong said. “But since then, they’ve been flooding in daily, even on Monday.”
The previous record for voter registrations during a presidential primary was 147,276 in 2012. According to county voter turnout records, the all-time peak number of local voter registrations during a primary was in 2009, for a special statewide primary to vote on a series of budget ballot measures. It also included open seats in the state Senate and U.S. Congress, though not for representatives of this area. During that primary, there were 156,514 local registered voters on record.
As the number of registrations grows, so does the number of registered Democrats and Republicans in the county: during the 2012 presidential primary, there were 50,369 registered Democrats and 58,906 registered Republicans. As of Monday, there are 54,851 Democrats and 60,772 Republicans registered.
Republicans also outnumbered Democrats in four of the county’s seven cities, plus its unincorporated areas. San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and Grover Beach all reported more Democratic voters than Republican.
The number of “No Party Preference” — also know as “decline to state” — voters in the county has also increased from 29,103 in 2012 to 31,543.
Only the number of Green Party registrations has declined in the past four years, falling to 915 voters this year from 1,356 in 2012.
Beside registrations, Gong said the number of mail-in ballot requests has also continued to skyrocket. So far, the county has sent out more than 106,000 vote-by-mail ballots, which is 10,000 more ballots sent than in any previous election. The deadline to apply by phone or online to receive a mail-in ballot is Tuesday, to allow for time for the ballot to be sent out before the primary.
Applications can be mailed to 1055 Monterey St., D120 or faxed to 805-781-1111. Voters can also request a ballot over the phone by calling 805-781-5228. Vote-by-mail ballots are still available after Tuesday, but only in person at the County Clerk-Recorder’s office.