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San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano speaks to the media during a press event at the SLO County Government Center on July 2, 2024. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office is currently preparing for what it expects to be a very busy General Election this coming Nov. 5, 2024.

“We are already gearing up for the November election, even though it is a few more months away,” said San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano. “Typically the Presidential and General Election always brings out more voters, in addition to all of the local contests that are on, but when you add the Presidential contest, more people are inclined to turn out and vote.” 

To help inform the local media, as well as the general public, learn more about what is in store during this year’s 2024 General Election season, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office held a press event at the Katcho Achadjian Government Center in San Luis Obispo Tuesday morning.

During the nearly two-hour informational press event, Cano touched on a number of election-related topics, including the sheer volume of races that will be decided in San Luis Obispo County this year.

As of Tuesday, there will be 128 different races held within the county during the election, including many separate races for local measures, city contests, school boards, community services districts and special districts.

“There is a lot to vote on,” said Cano. “We have a lot of the jurisdictions that are putting ballot measures out there. We have all of the regular contests that are going to be on the ballot, as well as our state and federal contests that are going to be out there. There’s going to be a lot of different ballot types, and a lot of different information that’s out there, but we hope that we can condense it all into one ballot card to make it easier for folks to vote both sides of the ballot.”

Cano also went into detail about election security, a subject matter that has been a high profile topic over the past several years.

“Elections are conducted with the utmost integrity and security here in San Luis Obispo County,” said Cano. “We go through a variety of different safeguards to ensure that every eligible vote is counted and securely kept secret because it is in the voters bill of rights that voters have the right to have a secret ballot. We take that very seriously, and I think with all of our voting systems, the safeguards that the Secretary of State has placed on each one of our vendors also ensures the security of all of our voter’s votes.”

Cano added she is scheduled to speak during next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting to ask supervisors to renew a contract with the much-debated Dominion voting system, as well as the approve the purchase of new voting-related equipment, which would be funded through federal grant money.

“I will be asking for the purchase of what we call the HIPRO, which is a high speed ballot scanner,” said Cano. “That will enhance our efficiencies in counting. It is three times as fast as the scanners that we have now, and so the quicker that we are able to scan ballots, the quicker we are able to report out results, which is ultimately what everybody is excited about. In addition, we will also be asking for the purchase of three mobile ballot printers, which will allow us to print out our counters, larger sized ballots in hopes that we don’t have to go to a two-card ballot, but at least will have the opportunity to print on the larger size ballot.”

At the same time the General Election season ramps up, the County’s election center, located adjacent to the Clerk-Recorder’s office area, is undergoing an extensive renovation project.

Cano indicated the project, which began a few weeks ago in the spring, is ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed by Labor Day.

“The elections area remodel right now, the biggest improvement that we’re going to see in there is the security of our voted ballots will have its own area that will be behind closed doors with security cameras on each one of those boxes that are inside that room, instead of having the voted ballots how they used to be, accessible to members of the public who were there observing could actually walk up to these boxes of voted ballots, whereas now in the secured, ballot storage area, it will be with only a few staff members that are allowed to be in there,” said Cano. “It’s a huge project for us and for the elections area. It’s not going to add any additional space for additional staff members, but it is going to enhance our security and the overall conduct of the election.”

San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office Public Information Specialist Erin Clausen concluded the event by speaking about the department’s increased public outreach effort and new community partnerships.

“We have some new community outreach efforts, in large part because the climate has changed and now communicating with voters is different than it used to be,” said Clausen. “In the past, we can put out information about when the election is, and how to vote, and that was pretty much it, but now there’s a lot more talk about elections, a lot more emotion regarding elections. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation as well, so our goal is really to communicate with our voters clearly and concisely and consistently, and let them know that we’re the source of information locally.”

Clausen noted the office has expanded social media presence, added new printed materials, improved the department’s website, started airing public service announcements (PSAs), as well have Cano speak at gatherings for community groups and organizations.

She added the Clerk-Recorder’s Office has also reached out to local schools to build new relationships and partnerships with educational institutions, as well as other community organizations to help promote the importance of voting.

“We’re really excited about working with Cal Poly,” said Clausen. “They’ve received grant funding to research how to specifically reach out to Spanish speaking voters. We’re working with them to take their research and put it into practice and make sure that we are reaching those voters in the best possible way. Cuesta (College) is another partner that is very engaged in getting their students registered to vote. A lot of Cuesta students are in our community and stay in our community, so that’s really exciting that they’re putting that effort forward. We also get out and talk to Rotary, Kiwanis, and speaking engagements like that and bringing those people in to see us as well. High school students are another key audience. They’re going to be the future voters in our county, and, it’s really important for us that they get excited about voting right now. It can sometimes seem a little doom and gloom, so it’s fun to get them excited about the process and understand how they can have an impact locally and why they should.”

The General Election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024.

For more information about San Luis Obispo County elections, click here to visit the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office website.

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