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SLO County sees record number of registered voters as state rolls out new ballot tracker

Posted: 6:40 AM, Feb 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-26 13:50:22-05
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Heading into Super Tuesday, California and San Luis Obispo elections officials are seeing a record number of registered voters.

In CA, about 26 million people are registered to vote. About 16 percent of those voters are casting ballots by mail and already, 11.5 percent of mail in ballots have been turned in.

That percentage is even higher in San Luis Obispo County, where Clerk and Recorder Tommy Gong says about 25 percent of the mail in ballots have been returned.

SLO County has a record 176,343 voters registered for this Primary election, which exceeds the last record high set in 2018 by about 4,000 registrations. Gong said most, about 82 percent of registered voters in the County, are casting mail-in ballots.

The County has long offered a digital tracking service, which has been allowing voters to follow their ballot to the elections office since 2010.

"Our ballot would show the ballot was issued to the voter, it would show if it was returned to the office, and if it was challenged, the reason that it was challenged. and a voter can call and follow up with us," Gong said.

But for those about to drop a ballot in the mail box, there's a new digital tracking service offered by the Secretary of State's Office called Where's My Ballot.

"It's an extra bonus, I guess it's a test to see if our data will match up," Gong said. "Our data - when we receive a ballot, we put it through our system to say it's returned. That info in turn goes up to the statewide data base and the statewide data base is what's utilized for the Where's My Ballot application."

This new service, which is available in 25 California counties, is a sort of bonus made possible by the state legislature this year to expand ballot tracking to more counties.

Here in SLO County, only 800 voters are registered with the state tracking service to date. But Gong estimates that number will increase closer to the November election.

Santa Barbara does not offer the Where's My Ballot tracking service.

Newly implemented legislation allows California voters to register on election day at any polling office.

Gong said the County election's office will offer special hours Saturday so prospective voters can register and avoid election day lines.