County Reports Smooth, Record Election

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

December 18, 2020

The County Clerk-Recorder’s Elections Office has closed the books on the November 2020 Presidential Election, entering one for the record books that despite a sea of change in how Californians casted their ballots, avoided issues that have thrown other states’ elections into dispute.

“VBM [vote by mail] voting went exceedingly well,” County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong told Estero Bay News. “We definitely had voters voting much earlier than ever before. [There were] No duplicate ballots sent, etc.”

Gong certified the election results on Nov. 25, taking the results to County Supervisors Dec. 15 for the official certification.
“The official canvass procedures include counting all vote-by-mail and provisional ballots turned in at the polls,” Gong explained in a news release, “balancing the number of voters who signed the voter service center rosters to the number of ballots cast, and completing a 1% manual tally to ensure the voting machines counted correctly.”

The California election saw a fundamental change in the voting as for the first time ever, all registered voters in the state were sent an absentee ballot, rather than the usual method wherein a voter must request in writing to have a ballot sent to their home address.

This was done ostensibly because the Governor’s coronavirus pandemic response still has a shelter-at-home mandate. Also, nearly half the election volunteer workers from the March Primary Election declined to participate in the November Election, which the Governor also changed into a 4-day voting period (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) instead of the traditional single election day.

The County also had nearly half of its March polling sites decline to participate in November due to fears of the virus. And many polling sites that remained, had to be changed to someplace large enough for social distancing among the voters.

In response, the County put out ballot drop boxes at various locations around the County, mainly County library branches.
“The 2020 Presidential General Election is one for the ages,” Gong said. “With unprecedented circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, all voters in California were sent vote by mail ballots and fundamental changes were made to precinct operations to maintain a safe voting environment across the state.

“Many other counties throughout the state suffered devastating wildfires and public safety power shutdowns. With much political unrest throughout the nation, this election was among the most divisive and the most closely watched in the modern election era. Yet counties, large and small, performed admirably despite the challenges they faced.”

Gong said his staff deserves credit for the smooth election. “I give all the credit to my staff members, fellow County departments for their assistance, consultants, and numerous election workers for making this election exceedingly successful.”
The election saw records set. There was a record-breaking number of registered voters — 184,050 — along with an record number of ballots cast — 162,615, the most votes ever in the County’s history.

The County also topped the all-time turnout percentage with 88.35%, breaking the previous record of 83.14% set in 2008 when ex-President Barack Obama was on the ballot.

That put San Luis Obispo County among the Top 5 California counties with for highest voting percentage. SLO was among the Top 12 counties in the 2012 and 2016 Presidential Elections, according to Gong.

The votes by mail also set records with 93.3% of people sending in ballots (152,741). Just 9,874 voted in person.
Gong reported no major hiccups happened such as computer crashes nor burst water pipes at the Government Center to interrupt the count, as occurred in other states.

And while there were some close races, including the race for Morro Bay Mayor, Gong said no one demanded a recount. The official results are posted online at:

You May Also Like…