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Pismo Beach City Council candidate says SLO County voter guide error is likely hurting his chances

Angel Russell
One of SLO County's ballot drop-off boxes.

It has now been over a week since voter information guides with several errors were mailed out to parts of San Luis Obispo County.

The SLO County Clerk-Recorder says it has corrected the faulty ballot guides, but one affected candidate worries the mistakes may have already caused irreversible harm to his campaign.

Kevin Kreowski is a candidate for Pismo Beach City Council this November. He and Lucia Mar Unified School District candidate Ashley Smeester had their candidate statements left out of their local voting guides, while another candidate's statements were printed twice.

Kreowski said with only a few weeks until the election, the omission felt like a huge blow to his campaign.

"I would say because we're at the 11th hour, and in today's day and age with the mail-out and mail-in [voting], people make a decision as soon as it hits their counter. And if you leave out something that is important like that, that really hogties a candidate," he said.

SLO County's June 7, 2022 primary election ballot materials.
Benjamin Purper
SLO County's June 7, 2022 primary election ballot materials.

The county clerk-recorder’s office sent out corrected voter information guides after discovering the error, and the full statements are available online.

Kreowski said that may not be enough.

“I think more should have been done to let the registered voters know that there was a mistake, and to try to rectify it," Kreowski said.

County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano apologized for the errors, which she says happened during the printing process by a third-party company after her office had already proofread the original guides.

According to Cano, the errors happened when the pages “were being assembled into the booklet, which caused one statement to be printed twice, while omitting the other.”

There was also an error in the ballot itself, which incorrectly identified how much property owners would be taxed in Measure C-22, a bond measure that would fund schools in the San Luis Coastal School District.

The ballot had a percentage sign where the word “cents” should have been, which Cano called a “typographical error” on the part of both the clerk-recorder's office and the printer.

She said the office provided the correct symbol to the printer, but did not realize when the printer sent back the first proof that the symbol had been incorrectly changed, which then become the basis for subsequent proofs.

Cano said she feels her office took all the appropriate measures afterward to correct the mistakes, but she understands the frustration they caused for candidates.

"That's a part of their campaign efforts, and when that doesn't go as smoothly as expected, then there's a lot of disappointment — and I sincerely apologize for that," Cano said.

Despite that disappointment, Kreowski said he hopes the attention given to this issue will help bring more awareness to local politics.

“This is where you raise your kids, where you grow up, where you retire — it's important," he said.

The clerk-recorder’s office said it has used the same printer and proofing process for years without incident, but they plan to put additional precautions in place for future elections.

The correct guides are available online here. The general election is November 8.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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