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More people needed to count mail-in ballots following AB-37 bill approval

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 22:48:32-04

The bill, AB-37, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, requires every registered voter in the state of California to receive a ballot in the mail.

Mail-in voting for everyone began during the November 2020 election and was carried over to the recent recall election.

With more mail-in ballots, officials say this means more ballots will need to be counted.

“Every registered active voter will receive a vote-by-mail ballot in the mail for all elections going forward in California,” said Helen Nolan, San Luis Obispo County Deputy Clerk-Recorder.

The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office is expecting to receive more vote-by-mail ballots and have fewer people calling to request ballots thanks to the new legislation signed by Governor Newsom on Monday.

“The county of San Luis Obispo is roughly 83-85 percent permanent vote-by-mail already by choice, so this just puts a ballot in everyone’s hands,” Nolan said.

“In Santa Barbara County, over 70 percent of voters requested a ballot in the mail prior to November of 2020,” said Joe Holland, Registrar of Voters for the Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

With ballots mailed in for the previous two elections, not much is expected to change in counting the ballots.

In-person polling places will remain accessible to voters.

“80 percent of our voters already received a ballot in the mail, and for the last two elections, everybody has received a ballot through the mail,” Holland said.

Staffing remains a key dilemma with the special election ballots still being counted.

90,000 ballots have been counted out of roughly 126,000 ballots received in San Luis Obispo County.

“It’s been a gauntlet. We just finished a really tough election and then we got this one thrown on us really quickly,” said Chad Hildebrand, Systems Administrator for the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

“The fact that we’re still counting ballots two weeks later is not only indicative of the increase in vote-by-mail ballot volume but also our inability to get as many people in as we actually need,” Nolan said.

The arrival of more mail-in ballots will mean a greater need for those counting the ballots.

“I’m going to have to hire more temporary workers because the anticipated influx of ballots will mandate that,” Nolan said.

“We’ve had staffing issues and that has been a concern. We’ve just been all hands on deck and trying to do what we can do,” Hildebrand said.

“Staffing is a challenge and I anticipate it to be a challenge going forward,” Holland said.

October 14 is the deadline for election results to be certified.