You’ve Got Mail

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.

February 16, 2024

Check your mailbox, there could be an election ballot inside.

The County Clerk-Recorder’s Elections Office had until Feb. 5 to mail ballots to all registered voters in SLO County, as per the State Elections Code.

But for some voters, who may have changed their party affiliation or re-registered because of a move or voter status, could get two or conceivably even more ballots. And that’s not the only quirk in this election cycle, which will include picking a new senator, as well as presidential candidates for each party.

“Importantly,” reads an announcement from County Clerk Elaina Cano’s office, “anyone who re-registered because of a name or address change — or a change in party affiliation — might find that they end up receiving two ballots. This is because Elections Code also stipulates that voter data be submitted to the ballot printer 60 days before an election, which in this case was Jan. 5. 

“Anyone registered at that time was issued a ballot reflecting their registration as of that date. Changes to voter registration since then are reflected in updated voter data that the Clerk-Recorder provides to the ballot printer twice a week between now and February 21. Those updates trigger supplemental ballot mailings.”

If EBN readers do get more than one ballot in the mail, whatever you do, don’t cast them all. “The Clerk-Recorder recommends destroying the first ballot or bringing it in to the Elections Office in SLO or Atascadero.”

Last minute registrants should have gotten a ballot by now but sometimes things happen. “In addition to the impact of recent registration updates,” the notice said, “weather and the general process of mail delivery throughout the county mean that ballots won’t hit everyone’s mailbox on exactly the same day.”

If you haven’t yet registered to vote you need to do so before Feb. 20 to receive a mail-in ballot. Otherwise, it must be done in person at one of the two County Elections Offices or at the polls on Election Day, the department said.

The SLO Elections Office is in the Katcho Achadjian Government Center at 1055 Monterey St., and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays-Fridays. 

The Atascadero Elections Office is open through Election Day, Tuesday, March 5, and is located at 6565 Capistrano Ave., on the second floor of the County Library. It is open 8:30-4 Mondays-Fridays. Both offices will be open until 8 p.m. on Election Day, and the SLO office will be open for early voting on Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

On the ballot will be the candidates vying for the nomination of the major political parties for President, along with a slew of State Assembly, State Senate and Congress, including two seats in the Senate, one a full term and the other a partial term.

The full term is the seat vacated when long-time Sen. Diane Feinstein died in office last September. Gov. Gavin Newsom replaced her with Laphonza Butler, a Democratic organizer, who has since chosen not to seek the seat at the ballot box.

Under Election Laws, anyone the Governor appoints — whether it’s U.S. Senate, Congress, State Houses or County Supervisor — can be sworn in and serve but must win the seat outright at the next available election.

With Feinstein dying last September (and after she had said she was seeking re-election in 2024), and with Butler’s appointment, the race for the “partial term” Senate seat is likely to have a mighty short tenure. The March race will select the Top-2 for a November runoff. The winner of that race will serve out Feinstein’s current term, for just a few weeks, before the winner of the full term is sworn in, in early January 2025. 

The full term race on March 5 is also an Open Primary and the Top-2 vote getters will have a run off in November. 

This potential political musical chairs will not happen if the same person wins both races.

Ironically, that’s exactly how the Senior Senator from California, Alex Padilla, made his way to Washington. 

He ran in two Senate races back in 2020, filling the seat vacated by the now Vice President, Kamala Harris. Because of being sworn in in January 2021, Padilla faced this same dual election in November 2022 taking the remaining Harris term of just a few months and the full term for the seat that she left to run for Vice President.

Among those running for both Senate terms is Congressman Adam Schiff of Hollywood (Dist. 30). Schiff’s Congressional District race has been flooded with candidates to replace him, including Miss Universe Iraq 2017, Sarah Idan.

Also missing from the March 5 ballot for most EBN readers is a chance to vote for County Supervisor for the second straight election cycle, after Morro Bay and Los Osos were split from Dist. 2 and placed into Dist. 3 and 5 following the 2021 redistricting by the Board. The change took away the chance to vote for Incumbent Bruce Gibson when he ran for re-election in 2022.

However, that map was then overturned in 2023 by a flipped Board majority, moving the two towns back into Dist. 2, and taking away their scheduled 2024 vote in Dist. 3 and 5 respectively.

The next chance EBN readers will have to vote for a county representative is in 2026 (unless the district map gets changed again).

If readers have questions about their ballots or haven’t received one in the mail, call the Elections Office at: (805) 781-5228 or email to: elections@co.slo.ca.us.

Also, there’s a FAQ document posted by the County that answers many questions, see: slovote.com/March2024.

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