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New technology speeding up ballot counting process in SLO County

Posted at 3:21 PM, May 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-29 18:21:02-04

Election Day is a week away and the clerk recorder’s office in San Luis Obispo is already accepting and counting ballots with its new, updated voting equipment.

The technology is expected to help count and process the ballots a lot faster.

Many voters like to turn in their ballots early, like Jesse Ronald from San Luis Obispo.

"I just want to be sure I get it done before Election Day. Who knows what might happen between now and then?" said Ronald.  

Many others like to wait for Election Day to submit their ballots.

"Basically, I am old fashioned. I go to my little booth, fill out my form and that’s just how I like to do it," said Trina Wilson from San Luis Obispo.

The clerk recorder’s office has already received and processed 23,000 ballots but there are still nearly 100,000 ballots left to be turned in and counted.

The ballot-counting machine can process and count 200 ballots at a time, rather than one by one.

"It’s really increased our processing power and time and speed – much quicker in terms of processing ballots," said San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong.

The upgrade cost of roughly $500,000 was paid for with federal money made available to all counties. The cost includes the construction of glass walls around the equipment for further security.

"This is a room within a room so that we maintain the transparency of our process but yet the public can’t get ahold of or touch anything," Gong said.  

The machine is already being used to count incoming ballots and the clerk-recorder recommends sending or turning in ballots early.

"About 30 years ago, I missed an election day and it’s the last one I ever missed. I always bring it in ahead of time," said Ronald Sampson from Cambria.

You can also drop off your ballot in a drop box if you bring it after office hours. The San Luis Obispo election office will also be open this Saturday.

Those who missed the deadline to register to vote or who have recently moved can still register by filling out a conditional voter registration form. That must be done in person at an elections office.

Santa Barbara County is expected to get a new tabulation machine in 2019.