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SLO County completes third day of ballot counting 

Counting ballots for the statewide primary races is a slow and steady process.

Starting at 9 a.m. on June 14, around 20 employees worked studiously at the elections office in the San Luis Obispo County Government Center, the silence punctured only by the rustle of ballots and the wheeling in of yet another rack of unprocessed votes.

click to enlarge 'CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC' Bruce Gibson, the incumbent 2nd District Supervisor, said he remains "cautiously optimistic" that he will emerge victorious with more than 50 percent of the votes for his seat. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • 'CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC' Bruce Gibson, the incumbent 2nd District Supervisor, said he remains "cautiously optimistic" that he will emerge victorious with more than 50 percent of the votes for his seat.

By 4:30 p.m., the group's pace had slackened. With drooping faces and less-nimble fingers, they flipped through the remaining boxes of ballots. At 5 p.m., the team had counted a little more than 8,000 ballots.

"It's definitely a marathon," said Deputy Registrar Melissa Lile. "We're tired, but this work is really important to us. It's accuracy over speed."

Lile and the county Clerk-Recorder's Office need to process and count the votes by July 7—30 days after polls closed for the primaries. The votes will be certified by July 15.

While processing takes place daily, counting occurs a few days over the week. The next count will be on June 17 at 9 a.m., and as always, members of the public will be allowed to observe the canvassing and adjudication procedures.

According to the June 14 poll counts, voter turnout inched forward from 25.03 percent to 29.45 percent. Three county districts—2nd, 3rd, and 4th—seemed set to receive a blue wave of supervisors, namely Bruce Gibson, Dawn Ortiz-Legg, and Jimmy Paulding.

But while Ortiz-Legg and Paulding hold comfortable majorities over their opponents well beyond 50 percent, Gibson's tally is a little less cozy. If his lead dips below 50 percent, he will face the next-highest contender in the November runoffs.

On June 7, initial numbers showed Gibson receiving close to 53 percent of the vote. After the next count on June 10, it reflected 53.19 percent. When counting ceased on June 14, Gibson's numbers receded to 52.55 percent.

"I'm certainly looking forward to finding out if we're in the runoff in November or not," Gibson said. "I remain cautiously optimistic that the trend here seems likely that we will take more than 50 percent of the vote. I'm not declaring victory by any stretch at this point. We are waiting patiently to get the final tally from the clerk."

Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano is in the running for her current appointed role. She leads the roster of three clerk-recorder hopefuls and has recused herself from all ballot counting during this election.

Some of her opponents were among the handful of observers gathered to watch the canvassing process on June 14, including Stew Jenkins, who'd received 15.32 percent of the votes by the end of the day, and Sherry Martinez—representing Republican James Baugh, the third clerk-recorder candidate. Baugh received 18.3 percent of votes, while Cano had received at 66.39 percent. Δ

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