With four days until Election Day, voting in-person is now an option.
23 polling places opened in San Luis Obispo County and 35 opened in Santa Barbara County Saturday for the first day of in-person voting.
Within the first hour and a half of opening Saturday morning, there were 286 voters at the voter service centers in San Luis Obispo County, according to election officials.
“The voter service centers were set up so that a voter could go to any location to vote and be open for four days of voting," SLO County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong said.
Some voters are taking advantage of the traditional voting method.
“I’ve always felt the need to go to actually to the polling place and have that responsibility as a U.S. Citizen and a voter to physically do it," said Brian Golden, a San Luis Obispo voter.
Other voters are relying on the vote-by-mail option this election.
“I like voting by mail because it allows the convenience of being able to vote on my own and also with COVID-19, I wanted to make sure I was doing it the safest way possible, so for me that was voting by mail," said Annie Secrest, a San Luis Obispo voter.
According to Gong, more than 100,000 vote-by-mail ballots have already been returned and more are on the way.
Many locations that previously served as polling places are not being used this election.
To help with new technology and equipment used for voting this election, the County Clerk-Recorder's Office established a command center.
COVID-19 brings many new challenges to voting this year and the team of election volunteers say they have been working to keep up with constant changes.
“I think that we’re improving, it’s just a big learning curve for everybody this year," said Marilyn Blake, the voting service center coordinator.
In addition, voters can now drop off their ballots without having to leave their cars.
Several voter service centers offer a drive by drop-off option for those who have filled out their ballots, signed, and dated them.
"They can just place them in the ballot box and then we hand them an 'I voted sticker' and they’re on their way," said George Fisher, a SLO County election volunteer George Fisher said.
The voter service centers in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties will be open Saturday, October 31st through Monday, November 2nd from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Election Day, they will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To avoid long lines on Election Day, Gong recommends people vote during the non-peak hours on Nov. 3rd, which are mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Curious about where to return your Vote-By-Mail Ballot? Drop your ballot:— County of SLO (@CountyofSLO) October 30, 2020
✔️ In the mail (postmarked on or before Nov. 3)
✔️ At one of the 19 ballot drop boxes in SLO County
✔️ At one of 23 voter service centers in SLO County
For more information visit https://t.co/hzZJQxHpgG. pic.twitter.com/XRMYXneg5m
For a full list of Voter Service Centers and Vote-by-Mail Ballot Drop Offices for San Luis Obispo County, click here.
For locations for polling places in Santa Barbara County, click here.