Although dozens of voters dropped off their ballots throughout the day on Friday at the San Luis Obispo County Government Center, clerk-recorders in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties say the early voting numbers are still pretty low.
Jeanine Rands showed her civic commitment by capturing her ballot drop-off with a selfie.
“It’s important to vote. It’s our duty," said Rands. “If we complain or are not happy about what is happening, it's because you haven’t voted.”
Barbara Luis felt ready to have her vote counted after doing her own research.
“I like to take a look at all the races for one thing,” explained Luis. “I don’t just vote one way or another. I take a look at the issues, I take a look at the candidates who are running, what they would like to do, and what I want.”
For many, early voting is about convenience.
“It’s been a while since I have gone in on the day,” said Matthew Leal, who already turned in his ballot. “It's just easier to research in advance and just fill it out in the evenings because I have kids, so once they are sleeping or if they do finally get to sleep.”
Clerk-recorders say non-presidential primary elections tend to have a lower voter turnout.
“This is your chance to select your state representatives, your U.S. Congressional representatives and your local representatives,” said Melanie Foster, Deputy Director for the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder's Office. “This is where your vote has the most power.”
The Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder reports that out of 235,000 registered voters, only about 35,000 have turned in their ballots.
According to the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder, about 34,000 ballots out of 185,000 registered voters have been returned.
“Normally, we’d have about 70,000 to 75,000 ballots returned at this point,” added Foster.
County officials say it is not just a San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara issue.
“Numbers are down across the state. We are actually doing better than the statewide average, which is hovering around 9 to 10%,” said Foster.
It is hard to tell exactly why many are not voting.
“It could be confusion over the mail-in, it could be voters have never seen in our county a two-card ballot. That can be very intimidating to try to look into all of those candidates,” said Foster.
But the clerk-recorders in both counties are extending hours on Saturday, hoping more people participate.
“You can drop it in any vote-by-mail drop boxes that are located across the entire county. You can come into the office and drop it directly to our staff,” said Foster.
The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Offices will be open on June 4, 2022 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Those locations are:
- 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo
- 6565 Capistrano Ave., Atascadero
The Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder Offices will also be open during that window at all three locations:
- 401 E. Cypress St. Lompoc
- 511 E. Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria
- 4440-a Calle Real, Santa Barbara