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SLO County is short election workers 

The June 5 primary elections are less than a month away. And while many voters have already mailed their finished ballots, others are waiting to vote the old-fashioned way: at the polls.

But those polls need to be manned, and San Luis Obispo County is currently short on workers. County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong told New Times he needs the community's help filling vacant poll positions, especially in North County.

click to enlarge WORK FOR DEMOCRACY SLO County is short poll workers for the June 5 primary elections—especially in North County. Email elections@co.slo.ca.us to get involved. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • WORK FOR DEMOCRACY SLO County is short poll workers for the June 5 primary elections—especially in North County. Email elections@co.slo.ca.us to get involved.

"I can't say why exactly," Gong said.

Primary elections are typically more challenging than general elections to recruit poll workers, Gong said, due to summer vacations and end of school year activities. But he added that this year's shortage is more glaring in light of a statewide voter trend toward mail-in voting. In the 2016 general election, 70 percent of SLO County voters mailed in their ballots.

"There used to be such a focus on Election Day, but now with the conveniences we provide, [voters] don't have to be in the county on Election Day," Gong said. "People are just not cognizant as much of the date of the election. They're just receiving their ballot in the mail and planning their vacation schedule. That's what I think is happening."

Gong noted it may be the last primary election with this issue. In 2020, California will start holding primaries in March instead of June. The state is also shifting to a new election model that emphasizes early voting and reduces the number of precincts.

Interested poll workers can go online for an application or email county staff at elections@co.slo.ca.us. Workers need to complete a training prior to the June5 election. The job pays a $100 stipend. Community organizations and nonprofits can also participate in "Adopt a Poll," where their members work together at one or more precincts, donating their collective stipends to a charitable cause. ∆

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