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SLO County ballot counting continues

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Jun 14, 2022

One by one, hand-sorted, separated and sectioned off, the ballot counting process is a monotonous one.

"The process all and in itself is about accuracy and not necessarily speed," explained San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano.

The undertaking is a very involved one, but let's start from the beginning.

On May 9, every active, registered voter in San Luis Obispo County (approximately 186,000) was sent a Vote-By-Mail ballot

May 18, election staff began processing the ballots already turned in.

June 6, the day before the primary, approximately 46,000 ballots had been received.

And on June 7, Election Day, 2,366 voters turned out at the polls.

The total number of all ballots received by the clerk-recorder’s office by that evening was 48,000.

"We send them out 29 days ahead of the election in hopes that a majority of them come back before Election Day," Cano said.

The week before the election, only around 18 percent of ballots sent out had been returned.

On Election Day, voters turned up in numbers. There were more VBM ballots turned in in a 24-hour period than there were on any other day in the 28 days leading up to Election Day.

"From the beginning, we receive the ballots via the mail drop boxes, etc. They're scanned in so their signatures are captured. They are then signature checked. Once they are checked, they are opened via our opener in the cold room. They then come out here and this is where they unfold them. They are looking for stray marks, stains, or rips in the timing line. Once they are processed, they are flattened and given to the counters," explained Shannon Negrete, Administrative Services Officer.

Putting the brakes on the process also has to do with the sheer manpower available. It takes a village of volunteers to willingly surrender days of their life to finish each of those tedious tasks.

"It takes a lot of hands to do this. There’s a lot of processing that goes into it. This is just one step," said a volunteer.

This year, the ballot was two cards, meaning the number of cards to be processed, counted, and adjudicated is all doubled.

San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano could not give an estimated date when they would be finished. Right now, they're taking it day by day. The process is open to the public so if you'd like to observe, you are more than welcome to.

For any discrepancies found on ballots like mismatched signatures, workers are reaching out to those voters to ensure they have the opportunity to fix it and have their vote counted.

After Tuesday's count, the SLO County Clerk-Recorder's Office reports it has a total of 34,768 ballots left to process. The next count is scheduled to take place on Friday.