Regardless of which candidates and ballot measures voters choose this November, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong said this year’s general election is remarkable. San Luis Obispo County has seen a surge in the number of registered voters.
“We shattered our voter count record,” Gong said. “And we sent out 130,000 vote-by-mail ballots—10,000 more vote-by-mail ballots than 2016’s presidential election.”
In terms of voter registration, Gong said, it feels a bit more like a presidential election year than a midterm cycle.
“It’s certainly an elevated election compared to other governor elections,” Gong said.
And party preferences in San Luis Obispo County have shifted a bit in past years, too.
According to California’s most recent voter registration records, San Luis Obispo County is home to nearly equal numbers of registered Democrats and registered Republicans.
This year, about 34 percent of voters are registered Democrats, and 36 percent of voters are registered Republican. In 2016, San Luis Obispo’s voters split 35 percent Democrat, 38 percent Republican.
Many of the remaining voters—roughly a quarter of all voters—have no party preference listed.
Across California, three-quarters of eligible adults are registered to vote. That’s a slight increase from 2016, too.
And San Luis Obispo county beats the statewide average, with about 80 percent of eligible voters registered.
To translate all those registrations into cast ballots, Gong has a few tips. For registered voters who can’t get to the polls, it’s not too late to get a mail-in ballot, he said.
Voters can request a ballot over the counter at the County Clerk-Recorder’s office at 1055 Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo. Then, voters casting ballots by mail need to be sure to sign and send their ballots in by November 6.
For anyone mailing a ballot in on November 6, Gong said voters should bring their ballots into a post office rather than dropping it at a mailbox.
“We highly recommend that voters take their ballots to the counter to request a circle date stamp, so that it shows November 6 on the date of the stamp,” Gong said.
For voters headed to the polls, Gong said, peak voting times will require more patience—early morning, lunchtime, and just after 5 pm. It’s best to arrive prepared, he said, with a sample ballot of your choices filled out.