A practical voters guide for peace of mind

May 19, 2022

Stew Jenkins


As I walk door-to-door campaigning for San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder a lot of voters ask how their mail-in ballots work, or how they can vote at a polling place the way that they are used to doing. Simple answers would give voters peace of mind.

Here’s a helpful short guide for citizens casting their votes in a traditional polling place.

Polling place voters need to know that traditional voting is banned unless the voter surrenders their vote-by-mail ballot to the poll workers [May 6, 2022, California Secretary of State Memorandum # 22101]. Only after you surrender your mailed ballot is the polling place able to give you a traditional ballot to mark and slide into the ballot box.

One voter asked, “You mean I’m giving my blank ballot to the poll workers? How do I know they won’t vote it and put it in the ballot box?”

The voter’s question is not unreasonable. There is an easy, practical answer that demeans neither the polling place workers nor the voter’s question. All the voter need do is ink a line diagonally on all four pages of their ballot and write “surrendered for a polling place ballot.” No one could vote the surrendered ballot, and the polling place ballot will be issued. This simple guarantee of voting integrity protects poll workers from suspicion.

If a voter fails to surrender their vote-by-mail ballot, poll workers are supposed jump through hoops (slowing the line) to see if the VBM ballot was received. Or the poll worker is supposed to give the voter a “provisional ballot” to fill out and seal in a provisional ballot envelope. The provisional ballot is left in an envelope to be counted later if certain conditions are met.

There are 60 polling places listed in San Luis Obispo County, and the poll workers want to help you vote – but are required to follow these rules.

Here’s a helpful short guide for citizens to cast their votes by mail:

Voters who want to mail in their ballot have asked questions too. “Do I mail in the first sheet for the June election, and save the second sheet for the November election?”

No, the June Primary election has a really, really long ballot, because there are so many candidates for U.S. Senate, Governor, and many of the other state offices like Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction. There are four pages covering the front and back of two sheets this year.

Local San Luis Obispo County offices don’t even show up until the fourth page of this long ballot, on the back of the second sheet.  You might want to start on the last page with the local county offices that are closest to you, and work your way up through state and federal contests.

Vote, then mail both sheets.

Be sure to put both marked primary ballot sheets in the return envelope, sign your name in the red box on the outside, and date it on the red line below that. Put it in the mail so it will be post marked on or before June 7, 2022 (election day); or turn in your mail-in-ballot (in your signed-sealed envelope) at one of the 60 polling places or 18 “official drop boxes” listed on a one-page sheet sent to you with your ballot.

If you have someone else turn in the ballot, you still have to sign and date the envelope at the red box area, but have the person turning it in sign the other side of the ballot envelope and state their relationship to you.

Be sure to vote this year, no matter who you vote for. It is the only way you have to gain peace of mind knowing you’ve had a hand in directing your local, state and national government.

Stewart David (Stew) Jenkins has practiced election law in San Luis Obispo County for 43 years, and is a candidate for SLO County Clerk-Recorder on the June 7 Primary Ballot. For more information log onto StewJenkinsSLOClerkRecorder.org.



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A good read before the fact, not after it’s to late. Thank you and I will vote and remind others.

Peace of mind in politics? That’s rich. Politicians are delusional bordering on sociopathy.

This is particularly true in this county.

If you think your vote will be stolen, then just don’t bother voting! ;)