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San Luis Obispo County, California

 > County of San Luis Obispo > Clerk-Recorder > Elections and Voting > Election FAQs/How to Manuals > Election Frequently Asked Questions

Election Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can vote?
A: If you are a U.S. citizen and will be 18 years old on election day, you can vote. You must register 15 days before the election to qualify to vote in that election.

Q: How do I become eligible to vote?
A: In order to be eligible to vote, first you must be a United States citizen and will be 18 years old on election day, and then you must register in the county in which you reside. By registering, you declare your residency in the State of California within the county and district of your actual physical residence.

Q: How do I change my address if I have moved?
A: If you move from your voter registration address, you must change your address with the San Luis Obispo's Election Department (805-781-5228). You can either mail your address change to the Clerk-Recorder's office, or you can update your voter information at DMV.

Q: Where do I vote?
A: You vote at your polling place in an assigned precinct, which is located in a neighborhood building, usually a school. After you register to vote, a voter information card is sent to you through the mail. Your voter information card contains your precinct number and the location of your polling place. It is important that you know your precinct number and polling place location prior to election day. If you are unsure of this information, you may check your Polling Place by visiting the Find Your Polling Place website or call the County Clerk-Recorders at (805) 781-5080.

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

Q: When can I apply for a Vote-by-Mail ballot?
A: You may apply for and pickup a Vote-by-Mail ballot beginning on the 29th day before an election and ending at the close of the polls at 8:00pm election night. The County Clerk-Recorder's address is:

    San Luis Obispo Office:
      County of San Luis Obispo Clerk-Recorder
      Elections Division
      1055 Monterey St. Ste D120
      San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
      Phone (805) 781-5228
      Fax (805) 781-1111

    North County Office:
      County of San Luis Obispo Clerk-Recorder
      2nd Floor of Atascadero Library
      6565 Capistrano Ave.
      Atascadero, CA 93422
      (805) 461-6041

You may mail or fax your request before the 29th day before the election. Actual mailing of Vote-by-Mail ballots cannot begin until the 29th day before an election. Completed applications must be received by mail or fax on or before the 7th day prior to the election. Applications for a Vote-by-Mail ballot by mail received after the 7th day before an election can not be processed.

During the last 7 days before the election, if you become ill, disabled, or find that you will be away from your polling place on election day, you may make a request in writing that a Vote-by-Mail ballot be delivered to you. You may authorize another person in writing to come to our office with your application and pick up the ballot. You may also authorize them to return your voted ballot for you.

Q: Where can I obtain an application for a Vote-by-Mail ballot?
A: You must make a request in writing. We prefer that you use the postcard application in the sample ballot that is sent to you because it has information on it that helps us to process requests faster. It is not necessary to wait for your sample ballot to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot. You may mail or fax a request in writing to the Elections Department requesting a Vote-by-Mail ballot. See next question below for information needed.

Send requests to:
County Clerk-Recorder
Elections Department
1055 Monterey St. Ste D120
San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

You may also fax your request to: (805) 781-1111.

NOTE: You may call to have an application mailed or faxed to you but, you cannot receive a ballot without making a written request.

Q: What information must be included in my application?
A: 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.

Q: How do I vote my ballot?
A: 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 your signature and address are on the return envelope. Your ballot will not be counted if there is no signature on the return envelope.

Q: When do I have to return my Vote-by-Mail ballot?
A: Vote-by-Mail ballots sent by mail or returned in person may be returned any time before election day but, must be RECEIVED by the Election Department on or before 8:00p.m. on Election night. Vote-by-Mail ballots received after 8:00 p.m. election night will not be counted.

Q: What should I do If I think my Vote-by-Mail ballot may not arrive on time by mail?
A: You may come in person to the Election Department at 1055 Monterey St. Suite D120 San Luis Obispo and drop it off any time before election day between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 6565 Capistrano Ave in Atascadero (2nd Floor of Atascadero Library) between 7:30 am to 12:30pm and1:00pm to 4:00pm.

On election day, you may return a Vote-by-Mail ballot to the Election Department or any polling place in San Luis Obispo County between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m..

Q: 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?
A: You may authorize a relative (spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother or sister) or a member of your household 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.

Q: If I lose the Vote-by-Mail ballot sent to me, can I get another one?
A: Yes. You may come into the Election Department and complete a lost ballot form. Or, you may call us for a form to be faxed or mailed. Or you can write a statement under penalty of perjury that you have either not received, lost or destroyed your ballot and would like a new ballot issued. A second ballot will be issued to you. You may also go to your regular polling place or to the Election Department and vote a provisional ballot on Election Day.

Q: If I make a mistake on my Vote-by-Mail ballot, can I get a new ballot?
A: Yes. You will need to return the ballot in person. Or if you have enough mail time, check the spoiled box on the outside of the return envelope. Draw a big circle around the box to make it clear the ballot has been spoiled. Each day that we receive ballots, the envelopes are reviewed for spoiled ballots and a new ballot will be mailed out to you the same day. Note: Per code section EC 14288 a voter shall not receive more than a total of three ballots including the original ballot in this manner.

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

Q: What if I don't meet the requirements of a "Special Vote-by-Mail voter". I will still be out of the country where the mail is slow. What do I do?
A: Suggestions:

(1) Find out if the area you will be in receives special mail service. (i.e. Express mail, Federal Express, United Parcel Service, etc.) If they do, list your mailing address on the Vote-by-Mail request to a friend or family members address. Once they receive your ballot, they can 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 in the election officials possession by the close of the polls on 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.

Q: How do I qualify for Permanent Vote-by-Mail Status?
A: State law now allows any voter to become a Permanent Vote-by-Mail Voter. You may apply by completing an application or submitting a request in writing containing the following information: Applicant's full name, applicants residence address, address where ballot is to be mailed, if different from the place of residence, and the signature of the applicant. A Vote-by-Mail ballot will automatically be sent to you for all future elections. NOTE: Failure to vote in a Statewide election will cancel your Permanent Vote-by-Mail status and you will need to reapply. If you have any questions regarding becoming a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter or would like an application sent to you, telephone our office at 781-5228.

Q: If I request a Vote-by-Mail ballot, can I change my mind and vote at my regular polling place?
A: Yes, but you must surrender your Vote-by-Mail ballot in the I.D. envelope and give it to the polling place worker before voting a regular ballot.

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

Q: Are there circumstances under which a voter can be required to vote by mail?
A: 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".