Vote-By-Mail

Who can use this service?

Any registered voter in San Luis Obispo County may request a Vote-by-Mail ballot or apply for Permanent Vote-by-Mail status.

Is there a charge for this service?

This service is provided free of charge.

What is the process?

Step 1: How to Apply for a Vote-by-Mail Ballot

You may request a Vote-by-Mail ballot beginning on the 29th day before an election one of the following ways:

  • Print, complete and return a Vote-by-Mail Application.

  • Complete and return the Vote-by-Mail Application on the back cover of the sample ballot sent to each registered voter who is not a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter.

  • Appear in person at the Clerk-Recorder office in San Luis Obispo or Atascadero.

  • Submit a written request to the Clerk-Recorder’s Office via mail, fax or email. The request must state the following:
  1. Voter's Name
  2. Residence Address
  3. Address to which the ballot should be sent, and
  4. Voter's signature
  • Request by phone. Only the registered voter may apply for a Vote-by-Mail ballot over the phone.

 

Address:  1055 Monterey St., Suite D120, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93408

Phone #:  (805) 781-5228

Fax:          (805) 781-1111

Email:       Elections@co.slo.ca.us

 

Vote-by-Mail ballot requests must be received no later than 7 days prior to the election in order for the ballot to be mailed to the voter.  After that date the voter must appear in the Office of the County Clerk-Recorder and complete an application indicating the reason they cannot appear at the polls on Election Day.

Step 2: How Apply to be a Permanent Vote-by-Mail voter

You may apply one of the following ways:

  • Print, complete and return a Permanent Vote-by-Mail Voter Application
  • Submit a written request to the Clerk-Recorder’s Office via mail, fax or email. The request must state the following:

Applicant's full name,

Applicant's residence address,

Address where ballot is to be mailed, if different from the place of residence

Signature of the applicant.

Becoming a permanent vote-by-mail voter, you will receive your ballot in the mail before every election you are entitled to vote. If you do not vote in four (4) consecutive statewide general elections, you will need to reapply for permanent vote-by-mail status.

Please Note: Vote-by-Mail ballots are mailed out approximately 29 days before each election. If you are away from your residence/mailing address during this time, please be aware that the Post Office is prohibited by law from forwarding election materials. Your ballot will be returned to this office if you have a forwarding order on file.

If you have any questions regarding becoming a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter or would like an application sent to you, contact the Clerk-Recorder's Office.

Address:  1055 Monterey St., Suite D120, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93408

Phone #:  (805) 781-5228

Fax:          (805) 781-1111

Email:       Elections@co.slo.ca.us

Step 3: Returning a Vote-by-Mail Ballot

In order for a ballot to be counted it must be:

  • Postmarked before or on Election Day and be received in the Clerk-Recorder’s office no later than three days after Election Day

  • Returned by the voter personally to any polling place in the county by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day

  • Returned to the County Clerk-Recorder's office no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day

We recommend that voters mail their ballots one week prior to Election Day to ensure that the ballot will be received in time to be counted. 

The voter may authorize a designated family member or someone living in the same household to return the voted ballot to any polling place in the county or to the County Clerk-Recorder's Office. This authorization is located on the vote-by-mail ballot envelope.   

Step 4: How to check the status of your Vote-By-Mail Ballot

To determine the status of your vote-by-mail ballot please use the Voter Status Lookup.

When and where is this service offered?

This service is available anytime throughout the year at the Clerk-Recorder office in San Luis Obispo or Atascadero during regular business hours except during County-observed holidays.

Location, directions and hours of operation

Click on location name to show hours of operation, directions and phone information

Clerk-Recorder San Luis Obispo Office

Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

1055 Monterey Street Suite D120 San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

Tel: (805) 781-5080

Fax: (805) 781-1111

Clerk-Recorder North County Office

Monday-Friday 7:30am-4:00pm

6565 Capistrano Avenue 2nd Floor Atascadero Library Atascadero, CA 93422

Tel: (805) 461-6041

Fax: (805) 461-6044

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people vote by mail in San Luis Obispo county?

The number of people voting by mail in this county has increased steadily over the years. Of those who voted in the most recent major elections, about 70% voted by mail. See the voter turnout and vote by mail history document for more details.

Who may vote with a Vote-by-Mail ballot?

Any registered voter in San Luis Obispo County may apply for and vote a Vote-by-Mail ballot.

What information must be included in my application for a Vote-by-Mail ballot?

Vote-By-Mail Ballot Applications should have your printed name, your residence address in San Luis Obispo County, the address to which the ballot is to be mailed (if different than your residence), the name of the election, and your signature.

How do I vote my Vote-by-Mail ballot?

Follow the directions included with your Vote-by-Mail ballot. Use black or dark blue ink pens or a #2 pencil to fill in the oval next to the candidate or measure on which you are voting. DO NOT use red or light colored inks. Ballots marked with red or light colored inks CANNOT be read by the tabulating machines. Place your voted ballot in the return envelope provided. Be sure you sign and print your residence address on the return envelope. Your ballot will not be counted if there is no signature on the return envelope.

When do I have to return my Vote-by-Mail ballot?

The following guidelines provide due dates for returning your Vote-by-Mail ballots:

  1. When returning it by mail:  Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day. If you are not sure your vote-by-mail ballot will arrive in time if mailed, bring it to any polling place in the State of California between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
  2. When returning it in person to a polling place or one of our offices:  Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
  3. When dropping it into one of our ballot drop boxes:  Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered to a ballot drop-off location must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
What should I do If I think my Vote-by-Mail ballot may not arrive on time by mail?

You may mail your ballot with a postmark on Election Day. The Elections office must receive that Election Day postmarked ballot within 3 days of the election in order for it to be counted. If you think your ballot may not arrive within 3 days, you have these additional options for returning your ballot:

  • Before Election Day, you may return a Vote-by-Mail ballot in person to the Clerk-Recorder Election Department at either of our offices (locations and hours shown on this page).
  • On Election Day you may return a Vote-by-Mail ballot in person to any Clerk-Recorder Election Department or polling place in the State of California between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
What should I do if I cannot return my Vote-by-Mail ballot myself, and it is too late to send it in the mail?

You may authorize any person to return your ballot. On the return envelope, you must sign your name and print the name of the person you are authorizing to return your ballot.

If I lose the Vote-by-Mail ballot sent to me, can I get another one?

Yes. You may:

  1. Come into the Election Department and complete a lost ballot form.
  2. Call us for a lost ballot form to be faxed or mailed to you. Fax, email, or mail the completed form to us.
  3. Go online and complete the lost ballot form and fax, email or mail the form to us.
  4. Write a statement under penalty of perjury that you either did not receive, lost, or destroyed your ballot and would like a new ballot issued. Fax, email, or mail the statement to us.

A second ballot will be issued to you once the completed lost ballot form or statement is received and processed. You may also go to your regular polling place or to the Election Department and vote a provisional ballot on Election Day.

If I make a mistake on my Vote-by-Mail ballot, can I get a new ballot?

If you have made a mistake on your ballot, please call our office at (805) 781-5228 to receive instructions on how to get a replacement ballot. Note: Per Election Code §14288 a voter shall not receive more than a total of three ballots, including the original ballot, in this manner.

I am out of the country and the mail is slow. Can I apply earlier than the normal 29 days?

You may apply for and receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot earlier than 29 days if you meet the requirements of being a "Special Vote-by-Mail voter" listed below.

EC 300(b) "Special Vote-by-Mail voter" means an elector who is any of the following:

  1. A member of the armed forces of the United States or any auxiliary branch thereof.
  2. A citizen of the United States temporarily living outside of the territorial limits of the United States or the District of Columbia.
  3. Serving on a merchant vessel documented under the laws of the United States.
  4. A spouse or dependent of a member of the armed forces or any auxiliary branch thereof. See Voting - Military and Overseas Citizens for more information.
What if I am out of the country and mail is slow, but I don't meet the "Special Vote-by-Mail Voter" requirements?

Suggestions:

  1. If the area you will be in receives special mail service. (i.e. Express mail, Federal Express, United Parcel Service, etc.), list your mailing address on the Vote-by-Mail request to a friend or family members address. Once they receive your ballot, they may use the appropriate express mail service to get your ballot to you. Remember to use the same service to return the voted ballot to the elections division. Your voted ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than three (3) days after Election Day.
  2. If the area doesn't have special mail service, maybe a town close to where you are located might have that service. Or maybe a friend or relative that might be joining you could bring the ballot.
If I request a Vote-by-Mail ballot, can I change my mind and vote at my regular polling place?

Yes, but you must surrender your Vote-by-Mail ballot in the I.D. envelope and give it to the polling place worker first. The worker will then process you as a poll voter. This will not remove your Permanent Vote-by-Mail status, if applicable.

If you are unable to surrender your Vote-by-Mail ballot, you may still cast a provisional ballot at your polling place. Provisional ballots are held for processing until it can be determined that you have not also voted by Vote-by-Mail ballot.

Are there circumstances under which a voter can be required to vote by mail?

Yes, if a precinct has fewer than 250 registered voters on the 88th day before an election, that precinct can be declared by the elections official to be a "Mail Ballot Precinct".  Ballots will automatically be mailed to these voters 29 days in advance of the election. The ballots may be returned by mail, in person at our offices, or dropped off at a polling place on Election Day.