By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to reject a vote by mail only election model on Tuesday following a divide primarily between Republicans and Democrats.
At the meeting, Democrats said vote-by-mail ballots along with vote centers open for 10 days would increase voter participation by providing more flexibility in terms of where and when people vote. Republicans voiced concerns that adoption could open the door to voter fraud and it would take away the right of people to vote at the polls.
In the vote by mail model, more than 100 polling places would be replaced by 20 vote centers which would be open for 10 days before election day. Voters could then either mail in their ballots or drop ballots off at a center or a ballot drop-off box.
Supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson, both Democrats, wanted the board to move forward and adopt the vote by mail only ballot model. Hill compared not doing so to restricting women and non-whites from voting.
Republican Supervisor Debbie Arnold said the county has already made voting easier through online registration, preregistration for 17 year olds, registration at the DMV, and the ability to drop your ballot at any polling place in California on election day.
“To take away the polling stations, not a fit for our county,” Arnold said. “In our county, it is not broken.”
Republican supervisors Arnold, John Peschong and Lynn Compton voted against moving towards the vote by mail ballot model.
Supervisor John Peschong then made a motion to instruct staff to increase voter outreach and education and to have staff look into the feasibility of placing vote by mail ballot drop-off boxes throughout the county. The motion passed 4-1 with Hill dissenting.