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DA's Office conducts inquiry into SLO County provisional ballot count

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Posted at 7:05 PM, Dec 06, 2022

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office says its Public Integrity Unit found no evidence of election crimes after an inquiry into the County Clerk-Recorder's reported number of provisional ballots.

The DA's Office says on November 29, it received a referral from a federal law enforcement agency that raised questions about an unexplained increase of more than 300 provisional ballots when the Clerk-Recorder updated the public after counting ballots on November 23.

The referral also alleged that election observers were "sent home" and that the additional ballots were "found" while no observers were present.

The DA's Public Integrity Unit launched an inquiry into the allegations and received the following explanation from San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano on December 2:

“The provisional ballot envelopes received by all county precincts on election night were counted, reported and their numbers were included on an excel spreadsheet utilized by my office to report the estimated figures to the SOS [Secretary of State]. However, at the time of the first report to the SOS, the excel spreadsheet did not generate "totals" for the provisional ballots for precinct numbers 101-123 and 201-220, respectively, which cumulatively equaled 327 provisional ballots. Consequently, when my office reported the estimate of total unprocessed provisional ballots to the SOS on the second day after the election, the provisional ballots for the referenced precincts were not included in that estimate. When the results of the election were updated on November 23, 2022, the provisional ballot totals for precincts 101-123 and 201-220 were captured and included in the "estimated" numbers provided to the SOS on that same day.”

In a press release issued Tuesday, the District Attorney's Office said, "The District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit has found no evidence that would contradict the explanation of a spreadsheet calculation error and therefore releases these facts to increase transparency and trust in the ongoing ballot counting by our county elections staff."

The General Election was held on November 8 and county elections officials have until December 8 to certify the results.

Cano previously reported that the final count of ballots would begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in order to meet the Thursday deadline.