People can drop off their ballot or vote in-person through Nov. 3

NORTH COUNTY — Sixteen-year-old Ella Mitchell was excited to be working at the Voter Service Center inside the Frontier Building of the Paso Robles Event Center on Oct. 31.

“It’s a good experience and a great way for me to learn how it works,” said Mitchell, who attends Paso Robles High School. “I wish I could vote, but I’m not old enough. This is something that I can do and still make a difference.”

She’d been there since 9 a.m. when the center at 2198 Riverside Ave. opened for the first of four days of operation along with more than 20 centers across San Luis Obispo County, where people can vote in-person or drop off ballots. Each center is open daily through the end of Election Day, Nov. 3.

Centers are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Monday and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. People can vote in-person or drop off their ballot at any Voter Service Center in the County.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Mitchell said she learned of the opportunity to work at the voter service center after seeing a social media post.

“I saw it on Facebook and thought it sounded fun,” she said. “I usually volunteer with clubs, but there hasn’t been much of that this year.”

She is already looking forward to doing it again and recommends that other people do it.

“This is a great way to get yourself out there,” Mitchell said. “It’s been really fun.”

Voter Service Center Coordinator Barbara Strong said they were pretty busy at the Paso Robles location when they opened and that it was steady for most of the morning.

“We are doing what we need to do,” said Strong, who has been working elections for several years. “People have been friendly and great. No problems.”

There are 23 Voter Service Centers throughout San Luis Obispo County, including eight in the North County — three each in Atascadero and Paso Robles and one in Templeton and Heritage Ranch.

A steady stream of people dropped off their ballot or voted in-person at the Voter Service Center at the Atascadero Library on Saturday, Oct. 31. Photo by Brian Williams

The Voter Service Center at the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office upstairs at the Atascadero Library, 6565 Capistrano Ave., was adopted by the Creston Community Center. Susan Branche was the coordinator.

San Luis Obispo County offers “Adopt a Poll” to community organizations and nonprofits. The program allows the local nonprofit organization to provide volunteers that will serve as poll workers and have their proceeds combined to benefit the affiliated organization or charity.

Branche, who has been helping at polls for 30-40 years, said this is a win-win situation.

“The Creston Community Center benefits,” Branche said. “We have not been able to do many of our fundraisers this year due to COVID. Having this really helps. And we make sure people have an opportunity to vote in-person.”

Branche said there had been a steady stream of people coming inside to vote but that most were using the dropbox in front of the library.

“Almost everyone has made a comment about how great it is that we are here,” Branche said. “People have been great, following all of the COVID guidelines.”

Masks and social distancing are being enforced at each Voter Service Center. People are encouraged to bring their pens and to vote before Nov. 3. Workers are sanitizing equipment after each use.

North County has seven of the 19 ballot drop box locations in SLO County — Atascadero Library, Creston Library, Paso Robles City Library, San Miguel Library, Santa Margarita Library, Shandon Library and the Templeton Community Services District office.

SLO County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong said last week that more than 100,000 ballots had been cast in the County, which is about 55 percent of all registered voters.

Voters who’ve lost their mail-in ballot may also fill out a new ballot if officials determine they haven’t already voted. Unregistered voters may fill out a provisional ballot at a Voter Service Center.

All ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, or, if mailed, have a Nov. 3 postmark date. Mail-in ballots postmarked Nov. 3 will be accepted for up to 17 days after Election Day.