San Luis Obispo County experienced record-breaking voter turnout in the 2020 election, as 88.35% of registered voters in the county cast a ballot this election.
“The turnout this year was just off the charts,” County Clerk Recorder Tommy Gong said.
About 83% of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2016 election — the second highest turnout in county history.
Every registered voter in California received a mail-in ballot this year, due to COVID-19. Mail-in voting accounted for 152,741 votes. About 95% of voters in San Luis Obispo voted by mail — another record shattering statistic.
The amount of in-person voters dropped to 9,874 , compared to the 41,000 that voted in-person in 2016.
Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center was open for four days for in-person voting and only saw 171 votes cast this year. Not as much in-person voting occurred among students, with most sending in mail-in ballots registered with their hometown, according to Gong.
Both Democrats and Republicans of San Luis Obispo had to adapt their “Get Out the Vote” campaigns to accommodate for COVID-19 precautions.
The San Luis Obispo County Republican Party mailed out lots of information to their voter base, called and texted people directly, and emailed information through MailChimp, which was new to the organization, according to San Luis Obispo Republican Party Chairman Randall Jordan.
“On both sides I think the Get Out the Vote was on overdrive for this election,” Jordan said.
Get Out the Vote refers to efforts across all political parties to encourage people to vote in elections.
The Cal Poly Democrats also worked virtually to encourage registration and voting. They hosted phone banking, held virtual events with candidates they endorsed, and performed literature drops in student neighborhoods.
“I think [the high voter turnout] is a testament to how much people care,” Ca Poly Democrats Co-President Rob Moore said. “I think it’s a testament to how much the events of the world right now are either frightening or empowering people.”