Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: It only works if voters vote

When the governor set the June 22 special vacancy election with less than 60 days notice, I knew that my staff and I would be faced with unprecedented challenges in conducting two countywide elections within 14 days of each other.

Now that we are less than a week away from the June 22 special election and are continuing to work on finishing the final certification of the June 8 election, I can say that the staff of the County Clerk-Recorder’s office has so far weathered these challenges with long hours and a dedicated commitment to reach the finish line.

We could not have accomplished what has been done to date without the help of many others in our community. The poll workers who serve on Election Day have willingly stepped in to work another long day and ensure that the voters can cast their ballots June 22.

Many of our polling places have rearranged schedules to accommodate our use on election day. A call for help to my fellow department managers was answered with more than 50 volunteers from other county departments who have assisted during the week and on weekends to ensure that we are as ready for June 22 as possible.

However, there is one large component whose participation is paramount to a successful election. The efforts of my staff and all of those who have assisted us to get to June 22 will be for naught without the help of the voters of San Luis Obispo County in the following ways:

Make sure you know where your polling place is on election day: It is very likely that your polling place has changed from the place where you voted June 8, since many of our usual polling places were not available for June 22. Check the back of your sample ballot to make sure you know where you are voting on Election Day; call our office at 781-5228, or go to the polling place look-up feature on the Clerk-Recorder’s website at www.slocounty.ca.gov/clerk.

Here you can find directions to your polling place, as well as pictures depicting the polling site, the path of travel to the location where the polls are set up and any accessibility features at the website.

Return your vote-by-mail ballot: There have been nearly 90,000 vote-by-mail ballots issued for the June 22 election, and as of June 15, more than 37,000 have been voted and returned.

Vote-by-mail ballots must be received by 8 p.m. June 22 to be counted and can be turned in at any polling place on election day or to the County Clerk-Recorder’s office. If you are going to mail the ballot, please do not delay to ensure it is received in time to be counted.

Most importantly, vote and encourage your friends and families to do the same. Special vacancy elections such as the June 22 election have a notoriously low voter turnout. The average voter turnout in the 96 special elections held statewide over the last 20 years was 24.7 percent, and most recently, a special election in the 72nd State Assembly District (Orange County) garnered just 15.6 percent voter turnout.

San Luis Obispo voters should be proud of our special election participation, as the voter turnout for the 1998 special vacancy election for the 22nd Congressional District was more than 52 percent, the highest of any election in the last 20 years.

I urge all voters to be a part of the “village” that makes up our wonderful county and to maintain the San Luis Obispo tradition of civic participation and turnout to vote June 22.

Julie L. Rodewald is the clerk-recorder for San Luis Obispo County.