County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong is asking voters to participate in his San Luis Obispo County 2021 Voter Survey so he can make recommendations, informed by voter input, to the County Board of Supervisors about future county election processes.
Gong’s office says the county is at a crossroads regarding how to conduct future elections after a major shift in the way the county handled elections in 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The county conducted the March 2020 primary using typical Election Day polling places. But in the November general election, all voters received mail-in ballots, as required by the state, and voters were allowed to cast their votes in person over four days at any of 23 voter service centers throughout the county.
Both the March 2020 primary and November general election set county records, including the highest number of registered voters and the highest number of vote-by-mail ballots. Nearly 94% of voters mailed their ballots in the 2020 general election.
Gong’s office says a possible recall election later this year could see either a return to polling places or a continuation of voter service centers, which are more expensive to operate because of increased technology requirements.
In a press release, Gong said, “I want to hear from voters how they would like elections to be conducted. I also want to increase public confidence in elections, so this survey will give voters a chance to voice their concerns or provide any input.”
The survey asks respondents how they prefer to vote, including in-person options and mail-in ballots. It also invites respondents to explain why they prefer the options they choose.
In addition, the survey poses questions about participants’ level of trust in the County Elections Office and in the accuracy of ballot counting.
Gong says he will present early results of the survey at the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting on May 4, when he will also present the differences between polling places and voter service centers. Then in June, at the county’s budget hearings, Gong plans to present the final survey results and his recommendations about how the county should move forward with conducting future elections.