SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — General Election Day, and the last day to vote in person are this Tuesday, Nov. 8. The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano has released information outlining the counting process for both election night and the days following.

For the past two weeks, the County Elections Team has been processing approximately 50,000 vote-by-mail ballots. More are expected leading up to Election Day. At this point in the election, the turnout is incredibly low, according to Cano, but they are hopeful that SLO County voters will make their voices heard.

So, how are results reported on Election Night and the days after?

Polling places close at 8 p.m. on Election Night, but it can take a few hours for all locations to transport their ballots, and weeks before the final totals are known. Ever wondered why? Here’s a quick look at what happens to your ballot after you cast it.


Election Night

  • The first results are posted shortly after 8 p.m. — these are the vote-by-mail ballots that were returned and processed prior to Election Day.
  • After that, they must wait for the first of the polling places across the county to complete their paperwork, pack up their supplies, and return the ballots — this can take more than an hour.
  • As polling places report in, their results are tabulated and compiled into countywide results.
  • The posted results are updated periodically throughout the night.
  • When all polling places have reported, the Election Night counting is done; however, there are still more ballots to count and a lot more work to do before the results become official (see below).

Ballots counted after Election Day

  • “Last Minute” Vote by Mail Ballots: Vote by Mail ballots that arrive the day before or on Election Day either by mail, returned at a polling place, or deposited in a Ballot Drop Box, are processed and counted in the days after Election Day and therefore are not included in the election night results reporting.
  • Postmarked Vote by Mail Ballots: Under California law, ballots may be counted even if they arrive after Election Day, as long as they are received by mail no later than seven days after the election and are postmarked on or before Election Day.
  • Missing or Mismatched Signature: A voter’s signature on the returned vote-by-mail identification envelope must compare with the signature(s) in the voter’s registration record. If the voter did not sign the ballot envelope or if the elections official has determined that the signature on the envelope does not compare to the signature(s) of the voter in the voter’s record, the elections official/staff will, provide the voter with the applicable notice to cure the missing or mismatched signature. This notice must be returned to the ROV no later than 2 days prior to the certification of the election.
  • Provisional Ballots: These are the last ballots counted because they must be researched and verified; it may take a few weeks, but every valid vote will be counted.

With all of these processes to do, the Clerk-Recorder’s office typically will certify the election, meaning finalize counting all the ballots, 30 days after election day.

So, what will the schedule be on a daily basis? Unfortunately, that cannot be determined. These processes are prioritized based primarily on the number of vote-by-mail returned the day before and after election day, provisional ballots cast at the polling places, conditional voter registration, signature cure letters returned by voters, staffing and other resources.

The County Election Teams works as expeditiously as possible and understands the voters, candidates and committees demands for quick results. Rest assure, they will provide updates as quickly as possible. All updates will be posted on our website