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Here’s why it's taking so long to process the June 7 election

Benjamin Purper

The San Luis Obispo County Primary Election was held June 7 and the results are still being processed. It isn't expected to be certified until July because, according to SLO County Clerk Recorder Elaina Caino, processing vote-by-mail ballots takes a while.

“For vote-by-mail ballots, when they are returned, they go through this processing stage,” Caino said.

This year, the San Luis Obispo County Clerk Recorder’s Office received 48,000 vote-by-mail ballots within 24 hours on Election Day.

Caino has recused herself from ballot processing as she was up for election in the Primary, but she explained how the counting works.

She said every single vote-by-mail ballot has to be scanned through their system to identify signatures. Then the ballots are sent to the processing board which separates the ballot from the envelope and examines each one for identifying marks or damage.

Once that review is complete, the ballots are put into batches of 200, which can then be counted. The results are then published incrementally in the days and weeks following Election Day.

“It’s a very time consuming process to compare the signatures, to review the ballots, to count the ballots and then to adjudicate them. That all takes a lot of time,” Caino said.

She said the Clerk Recorder’s Office was caught up with counting ballots prior to June 7 because they had only received about 15 percent of the 185,000 ballots sent to voters in SLO County. But voters turned out on Election Day, lengthening the process.

“We received more vote-by-mail envelopes and ballots within that 24-hour period of the Election Day than the 28 days prior to Election Day,” Caino said.

She said the initial results that are released on Election Night are only from vote-by-mail ballots that were already counted and same-day poll ballots. Caino said this is also why it’s important not to call the results of the election until all votes are counted and certified.

“The races are certainly not called at any point and even now — we still have over 40-thousand ballots remaining to count,” Caino said.

The results of the June 7 Primary Election will be certified by no later than July 7. You can visit our website or the SLO County Clerk-Recorder’s website for updated election information as it becomes available.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.