After 18 days, the recount of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors’ District 4 race is complete — and it was identical to the original ballot count.
After re-tallying ballots from 23 precincts and five mail ballot precincts, the recount confirmed that Arroyo Grande City Councilmember Jimmy Paulding won the District 4 seat with 10,769 votes to incumbent Lynn Compton’s 10,130 votes.
“There was zero discrepancies,” County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano told The Tribune soon after the results were released. “We were 100% accurate.”
Paso Robles resident Darcia Stebbens requested the recount to motivate the county to improve its election process, she told The Tribune on July 20.
“We’re just concerned citizens trying to improve the system,” she said.
Though the recount was 100% accurate, Stebbens this week said she’s still skeptical of the vote-by-mail election process.
In addition to being worried about the machine-counted ballots, she said she’s worried about the integrity of the ballots themselves — such as someone filling out another voter’s ballot.
She said she requested the recount so she and the SLO County Citizens Action Team could take a look at the ballots. The team formed to support the recount.
“We’ve been able to gather a lot of information,” Stebbens said, while declining to share what information they found.
Stebbens said she’s concerned with the cost and time it takes to count mail-in ballots. There’s also more opportunities for people to vote with the wrong ballot with mail-in voting, she said.
“It’s not a great system, and it has a lot of vulnerabilities,” Stebbens said. “We want it to change.”
Next Wednesday, the group is meeting with county staff about additional “relevant materials” they requested, and to discuss technology concerns in the election process, Stebbens said.
“We’re not crazy people,” Stebbens said. “We want the process to be secured.”
As the person who requested the recount, Stebbens must cover the cost of the process. As of Thursday morning, she had deposited $53,130.73 with the county, Cano said.
Stebbens has only paid the estimated cost of the recount. The Clerk-Recorder’s Office will spend the next two weeks calculating the official cost of the count by reviewing staff time cards and materials used over the past 18 days.
If the recount ends up with a higher price tag than Stebbens’ deposit, she will have to pay the county the additional money.
If the final cost is less than Stebbens’ deposit, the county will refund her the extra, Cano said.
Cano said she’s grateful to her staff for their hard work during the recount.
“I’m so proud of this entire team and my temporary election workers who endured so much stress and pressure just to have to be observed,” Cano said. “Even though the observers were respectful, it’s not an easy way to do your job when somebody is constantly looking over your shoulder.”
She said she hopes the accuracy of the recount restores people’s trust in the election process.
“I hope that people take away the fact that our systems and our processes are accurate,” Cano said. “I hope that they start to regain some trust with the process. I hope they see how transparent we really are.”