SLO County prosecutor looks into increased ballot count

December 7, 2022

SLO County Clerk Recorder Elaina Cano


The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit conducted an inquiry into concerns about the County Clerk-Recorder reporting an additional 332 provisional ballots several weeks after the election. In response, Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano promptly explained it was human error, according to a county press release.

On Nov. 29, a federal law enforcement agency sent a written referral alleging potential election crimes occurring during the counting of ballots to the District Attorney’s Office.

The referral raised questions about an unexplained increase of more than 300 provisional ballots that were announced when the clerk’s office updated the public after counting ballots on Nov. 23. The referral alleged that election observers were “sent home” and it was while no observers were present that the additional 300 or more provisional ballots were “found.”

In response to the inquiry, Cano explained the apparent discrepancy between the two reported totals of provisional ballots as an error when using a spreadsheet to total the ballots.

“The provisional ballot envelopes received by all county precincts on election night were counted, reported and their numbers were included on an excel spreadsheet utilized by my office to report the estimated figures to the Secretary of State (SOS),” Cano Reported. “However, at the time of the first report to the SOS, the excel spreadsheet did not generate ‘totals’ for the provisional ballots for precinct numbers 101-123 and 201-220, respectively, which cumulatively equaled 327 provisional ballots. Consequently, when my office reported the estimate of total unprocessed provisional ballots to the SOS on the second day after the election, the provisional ballots for the referenced precincts were not included in that estimate.

“When the results of the election were updated on November 23, the provisional ballot totals for precincts 101-123 and 201-220 were captured and included in the ‘estimated’ numbers provided to the SOS on that same day.”

The District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit did not find evidence that would contradict Cano’s explanation, according to a press release. It recommends full transparency about the facts and process when questions are raised in order to ensure the public trust in local elections.

“The District Attorney’s Office Public Integrity Unit’s primary goal is to increase the public’s level of trust and confidence in local government and elected and appointed officials through investigative oversight and enforcement when evidence is sufficient for prosecution,” according to the press release.

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Does the County-Clerk Recorder’s Office have the same difficulty in recording marriages, births and deaths? Are such records misplaced, uncounted, unrecorded and never made official? Do we all need to confirm if we are actually married or divorced, that our children have proof of their birth, or that our elderly parents really died?

The absence of clear, simple, straightforward, safeguarded, correct & exact ballot processing and tabulation protocols is unacceptable. The process must be rich in security, full of redundancy, always accurate and foolproof. It is time for a full overhaul of the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

Along with voting pamphlet mistakes, an example of poor proofreading at the “Clek-reorders’ … geesh

BTW, my money is on Jones winning by 178 votes. What say you?

They found 332 extra ballots weeks after the election and no funny business was found?… unbelievable….

I feel bad for the Clerks office – their total transparency and owning of mistakes is rewarded by angry hecklers accusing them of everything from stupidity to treason. What’s the point of being truthful if people want to hear a lie.

The issue is that Cano is not transparent. She refused to discuss the issue until the DA told her they had opened an investigation. She claims she is overwhelmed by records requests, but those requests only occur because she refuses to provide documents or info without a fight.

Truth must be present at the beginning, not the end.

“Treason?” Hmmm…

I believe I read and heard terms like, “sloppy” and “incompetent” used. I could be wrong but don’t recall reading or hearing “treason?”

I don’t trust anything Cano says! We have a inept County Clerk-Recorder.

Elections should be certified long before Thanksgiving, all of this holiday drama has become very divisive. We can certainly go back to a fully manual election process and yield a count by the next day. Absente ballots, only when necessary, additionally we senior’s have to choose which Medicare option is available during this same period, every year, until it gets complicated enough enabling others to take their money, talk about elder abuse too! Tis the season for what?

Most clamoring for “next day” results for elections fail to realize that historically this was never the case. In the last couple decades we have become accustomed to much quicker results because of electronic communication (telephones reporting precinct results). Next day results have always been a myth.

Our Founding Fathers never thought next day elections were even possible. In fact, throughout most of our nations history we waited weeks for results. The Safe Harbor rules requiring a date by which elections are certified were a result of delayed election results coming in from the far reaches of states and territories . The dates were set weeks out for one reason; to assure all votes cast were counted and the voter not disenfranchised because of their rural location. Requiring speed over accuracy is an argument for voter disenfranchisement.

There is no historical argument to made for next day results. Just the opposite in fact.

You are correct, because riding a horse, or buggy, 150 miles to drop off the collected ballots was not a quick endeavor.

Which means NOTHING in this day of instant calculations and tabulations. Voting sites are no longer one or two between far-flung towns, but in your own neighborhood. Even if we still had manual balloting (dear Lord, please bring them back), a legion of on-site ballot counters and election observers can safely and correctly count the votes.

However, someone took advantage of the Covid lock-down and the US Mail system, by perverting the absentee ballot system, and allowing anyone to anonymously mail in ballots willy-nilly, and apparently at any time before the certification date…and too often, beyond that. Absentee voters are required to have identification and residence proof in the clerk’s office. Mail-in voters……do not.

Has anyone else noticed, that counting ballots has become more and more complicated, convoluted, and controversial since the computerized machines were introduced to “replace” people?

Cano “suddenly discovering” over 300 votes in simply inexcusable. Even if her story were true, then it reflects terribly on her office to conduct a fair and honest count.

A champion of voter technology I see. Yet you insist we must march to an old school voting booth to cast a ballot. Seems a bit inconsistent.I hate to tell you but mail in ballots have the same signature verification process as an absentee ballot. All votes cast are verified to the information on the official voters rolls.

And yet, I repeat myself:

“Has anyone else noticed, that counting ballots has become more and more complicated, convoluted, and controversial since the computerized machines were introduced to “replace” people?”

I beg to differ, as I am old enough to remember results for MOST elections resolved in 24-72 hours following Election Day.