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Minor changes coming to voting system for next election in SLO County

Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 22:23:37-05

Some more options are in the works when it comes to how we vote in San Luis Obispo County.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors discussed adopting a new voting process that some board members say could be the future of voting.

It essentially restructures elections around mail-in ballots.

At least five counties have it so far. San Luis Obispo could have it, too, but probably not for the 2020 election.

The new system allowed under Senate Bill 450 would mail ballots to every registered voter.

Instead of the county opening the standard 78 polls on Election Day, there would be 20 vote centers, like mini clerk-recorder offices, that would open up 10 days before Election Day.

It would cost more than $400,000, so the Board of Supervisors said ‘no.’

County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong offered up a second option at a cost of over $160,000 that included opening four satellite vote centers before Election Day, in addition to the regular 78 polling places on Election Day itself.

Ultimately, the board decided to keep things as is but add 15 drop-off centers around the community for mail-in voters.

“Nobody has to do anything different with this,” said Supervisor Adam Hill. “It’s just going to give you options of where you can drop it off if you don’t want to put it in the mail or if you forget to put it in the mail or if people in your community are saying, ‘hey, let’s all come together and turn these in.'”

“Those who go to the polling place are very used to going to the polling place so it was my concern, it was also the concern of many of the other supervisors, that you not change that process in the middle of what we’re anticipating will be our largest-ever election,” said County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong.

Gong adds that the drop-off locations will save the county return postage they’re now required to pay.

To implement the drop-off centers, it’ll cost around $15,000 to $20,000.

Around 130,000 people in San Luis Obispo County vote by mail. The goal is to work toward the new system that those five counties are already utilizing.

Voter turnout in SLO County for the last presidential election in 2016 was about 83 percent, according to Gong.