It’s been 25 days since the primary election was certified in San Luis Obispo County but counting is still going on.
After closing the last box on July 7 and certifying the election, it wasn’t long before ballot counters in San Luis Obispo were reopening all of those same boxes.
San Luis Obispo County resident Darcia Stebbens requested a manual recount of the ballots in the District 4 Supervisor election. The certified results of that race showed Jimmy Paulding unseating Lynn Compton by 639 votes.
"You have to keep in mind that we had 85,000 ballots returned but you double that when you talk about the two cards, so 170,000 ballots we have to sift through in order to find and pull out all of those that are specific to District 4," explained Elaina Cano, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder.
It's a monotonous process. Each box gets reopened, split up, sorted, and separated.
Once they have only District 4 ballots in their pile, they get rechecked to make sure there is the correct amount.
From there they head to a new box, sectioned off by precinct, waiting to once again get checked and counted.
"The process is so involved. There’s check after check after recheck after check. That’s why there are four of us doing the same job here to make sure we all get it right," said Rochelle Friedman, a temporary election worker.
At the instruction of the recount requester, the ballots are being manually checked, opting for a hand count rather than the original machine method and so far they’re spot on.
The only discrepancy was a single vote that was off. After recounting the entire box once again, the missing vote was found in the opponent’s stack. They attribute that to human error.
"You’ve got two people — one person calling it, one person viewing it — and the observers behind them and between the five of them, they all missed it," Cano said.
While such a simple task, sometimes it gets hard.
"Its easy to do. That’s when you’re doing the same thing over and over again, it becomes kinda a blur, so you really have to pay attention to the simplest things and that just proves it wasn’t a machine, it was a human," Friedman said.
Stebbens can and has exercised her right to challenge ballots she feels should not be counted. So far, none have qualified for disqualification.
32 boxes down and 184 to go.
The County Clerk-Recorder could not give an estimate on when the recount will be finished but says there’s still a long road ahead. There is no deadline by which the recount needs to be completed.