Voter Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below is a list of voters' commonly asked questions. If you don't find what you need here, or if you need additional information, please contact our office at (805) 781-5228. A comprehensive list of questions can also be found on the California Secretary of State's web site here.
Voter Registration and Pre-Election Questions:
Who can register to vote?
- To register to vote in San Luis Obispo County, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- A resident of San Luis Obispo County
- At least 18 years old before or on Election Day
- Not currently serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony
- Not found to be mentally incompetent by a court
- More information can be found on the California Secretary of State's web site.
- NOTE: Eligible 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote here. The voting age will not change, but those who pre-register will automatically be registered to vote when they turn 18.
What is the last day to register to vote in the March 5, 2024 Presidential Primary?
- The last day to register to vote for the March 5, 2024, election is February 20, 2024 (February 19, 2024, is the official deadline; however, it falls on a federal holiday, so the deadline moves to the next business day). PLEASE NOTE: Mailed registration forms must be postmarked by 2/20/23.
- Conditional Voter Registration allows eligible citizens to register and vote on the same day. The 14-day Conditional Registration period runs From February 21 through Election Day, and is only available in person at our offices in SLO and Atascadero.
- If you aren't registered by February 20, you can vote a provisional ballot at any polling place on Election Day (7:00 am - 8:00 pm), or at our offices in SLO and Atascadero. Our offices will also be open for voting on Saturday, March 2, from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm. Your provisional ballot will be counted once our office has determined that you were indeed eligible to vote.
How can I register or check my current registration status?
- You can check your voter registration status here and register to vote online here.
- You can complete and return a Voter Registration Card (VRC), which may be picked up at any post office, city hall, or library, or in our elections office in SLO or Atascadero during business hours.
How do I change my address?
- You can re-register to vote online or by completing a Voter Registration Card in our office.
- You can fill out a Voter's Action Request Form in our office.
- If you are updating your physical address and it remains within SLO County, you have the option to email [email protected] or send a mailed letter to our office. The email or letter must include: your full name, date of birth, and residence address currently on your registration; also, let us know if this is a mailing address change or a physical address change or both.
How do I change my name or political party preference?
When will my Vote-by-Mail ballot be sent to me?
- VBM ballots for the March 5, 2024, election will be sent to all currently registered SLO County voters no later than February 5, 2024.
Questions Related to Voting:
Where is my polling place?
- Beginning 29 days prior to the election (February 5, 2024), you can look up your designated polling place online.
- The address of your polling place will be printed on the instruction sheet within your mailed Vote-by-Mail ballot packet. The stub on your VBM ballot will also include this information.
When are the polls open?
- Polling places will be open 7:00 am - 8:00 pm on Election Day. If you choose to vote in person at the poll, you will be eligible to do so as long as you are in line to vote before 8:00 pm.
- You may also choose to vote in person at our elections offices in SLO and Atascadero beginning February 5, 2024, during business hours (8:30 am - 4:30 pm). The SLO office will also be open for voting on Saturday, March 2, from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm.
When are VBM ballots due?
- If mailed, VBM ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day, which is March 5, 2024, and received in the Clerk-Recorder’s office no later than 7 days after Election Day.
- A VBM ballot may be returned by the voter personally to any official ballot drop box, polling place, or Vote Center in the state by 8:00 pm on Election Day.
- A VBM ballot may be returned to the County Clerk-Recorder's Office in SLO or to the Atascadero Elections Office no later than 8:00 pm on Election Day.
I never received or lost my VBM ballot. Can I get a new one?
- A replacement VBM ballot can be requested at either our SLO or Atascadero office through Election Day during business hours. If the request is made in person, you will receive your replacement ballot at the time you submit your application. The deadline to have a replacement ballot mailed is 7 days prior to the election. After that date, you must come in person to one of our offices.
- You can also download a copy of the application to print and complete before coming into the office, or you may print and mail it to the Clerk-Recorder's Office in SLO, fax it to us, or email it to [email protected].
Can I track my ballot to make sure that it has been counted?
- Yes! You can track your ballot through BallotTrax here. You'll be able to track your ballot's life cycle from initial mailing to being counted.
I returned my VBM ballot but it is not showing as being counted. Why is this?
- Your VBM ballot will not show up as counted until we have verified the signature on the return envelope. It may be in our office but the signature hasn't yet been checked.
- We ask you to wait a week after returning your VBM ballot before asking us to investigate to allow time for the signature-checking process.
What contests are on the ballot? Why is a certain contest not on my ballot?
- Contests on your specific ballot are based on your residence address.
- Contests on your specific ballot are also based on your political party preference (what you indicated when registering).
I am registered as independent. Can't I vote for any U.S. Presidential candidate?
- In California, independence from a political party is called “No Party Preference.” If you are registered as NPP, your ballot in the primary election will not include presidential candidates. Certain political parties do allow NPP voters to request one of their party ballots for primary voting – this is called “cross-over voting.”
- Parties allowing cross-over voting in the March 5, 2024, Primary include: the American Independent, Democratic, and Libertarian parties. If you would like to vote for a candidate from the Green, Peace and Freedom, or Republican party, you must re-register with that specific party.
- More details about NPP and cross-over voting can be found here and on the CA Secretary of State's web site here.
I am unsure how I signed my name when registering, or my signature has changed over time. Will my VBM ballot still count?
- Your signature on the VBM return envelope is compared to all signatures that we have on file from your prior registrations and prior VBM return envelopes.
- When we are signature-checking your VBM return envelope, we are not looking for an exact match, but rather for enough similarities that a reasonable person can say that the signature on the VBM return envelope was made by the voter and not by another person.
- If your signature has changed (for example, due to a new name or illness/injury), you can re-register to vote by filling out a Voter Registration Card and signing with your new signature.
- If you are unable to sign your signature (for example due to an injury or illness), you can make a mark (X) on the signature line and have a witness sign the witness line.
I made a mistake on my ballot. How do I correct this?
- If you marked the wrong oval on a contest, you can clearly cross out the mistake and fill in the oval for the correct choice.
- If you have a small tear or stain on your ballot and your intent is still clear for your voted contests, you can still submit your VBM as is.
- If you need to replace your VBM Ballot, please refer to the answer regarding lost VBM ballots above (you will need to complete an application for a replacement).
I signed my spouse's/friend's/another person's VBM envelope. What do I do?
- If you or someone else accidentally signed the wrong envelope, you can cross out the signature that should not be on the return envelope and sign with the correct signature in the red box if there is room, or above or to the right outside the red box if necessary.
I opened my VBM return envelope after sealing it. Can I tape it back up and send it?
- Yes. If you can secure your VBM ballot in the return envelope with tape, you may still return it for your ballot to be counted.
Why did I receive a second VBM ballot?
- You more than likely received a second VBM ballot because you re-registered to vote during the VBM mailing period (or a few weeks prior), and your new registration includes a change of name, address, or political party preference.
- Please contact elections at (805) 781-5228 or by email at [email protected] and provide your name, date of birth and residence address if you believe you did not re-register to vote during this period.
I was mailed a VBM ballot for a person who does not live at my address or is deceased. What do I do?
- You can write “Return To Sender” and the reason ( “Deceased,” “No such person at this address,” “No longer lives here,” etc.) on the outside of the unopened envelope and put it back in the mail. When we receive the VBM ballot in our office we will investigate and take the appropriate actions.