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Kern County Board of Supervisors approves use of Dominion Voting Systems in upcoming elections

“I have totally lost confidence"
Posted: 5:09 PM, Apr 06, 2022
Updated: 2022-04-29 17:06:02-04
Voting Machines Rural County

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Election ballots are being mailed out on May 9th ahead of the June 7th California primary elections. Then there are the midterm elections in November. But there is election buzz already happening this week at the Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting. At one point, Kern County's voting process was in jeopardy.

In just a couple of days, the Kern County Elections office will post the candidate list on their website. However, 23ABC was able to obtain the list early. It’s 27 pages long and the first three pages are just gubernatorial candidates.

But ahead of the elections, there was a question about the system counting those votes.

Since 2016, Kern County has been using Dominion Voting Systems to count votes. But the prepayment for the agreement with Dominion expired back on December 31st. An agreement, which if not approved, Kern County’s Registrar of Voters Mary Bedard says could have halted the elections in June.

“It’s the only equipment we’ve got. We cannot conduct the election unless we pay these licensing fees. A hand count of 100 percent, of every race, on every ballot, would take months. So you wouldn’t be able to certify in time to actually have usable results.”

Bedard adds Kern County has been using machine count in various forms for decades.

On Tuesday, the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted on an amendment to renew the agreement and move to an annual licensing fee.

However, during the open comment period of the supervisors' meeting, many of the public showed their disproval.

“I have totally lost confidence. I don’t mind losing. I just want to lose the right way,” said one resident.

“Dominion’s own CEO, Derik Kumer, explained how to alter votes in the machines, and discuss vote switching so please for the sake of our elections and our election security, do not renew this Dominion contract,” said another.

“If we do not have integrity in our voting system, we will lose our nation,” argued yet another.

Much of the concern surrounds questions raised following the 2020 elections and the use of Dominion Voting Systems machines.

Former President Donald Trump, his legal and supporters team have continued to blame rigged voting machines for changing the result of the 2020 election.

However, Trump’s legal team has not been able to substantiate any fraud allegations in court, prompting one federal judge appointed by Trump to write in an opinion, “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” 3rd Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas wrote. Bibas was appointed by Trump to the federal bench in 2017.

Former Attorney General William Barr has told the Associated Press that the Justice Department did not uncover any widespread voter fraud that could have changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Barr told the Associated Press that federal agents have followed up on numerous complaints and tips they've received, but have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

A review by The Associated Press in the six battleground states disputed by former President Donald Trump has found fewer than 475 cases of potential voter fraud, a number that would have made no difference in the 2020 presidential election. Democrat Joe Biden won Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and their 79 Electoral College votes by a combined 311,257 votes out of 25.5 million ballots cast for president. The disputed ballots represent just 0.15% of Biden’s victory margin in those states.

Many of those claims surrounded Dominion Voting Systems. Claims that helped spur on rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

However, no claims against Dominion, or fellow voting systems company Smartmatic, have ever been proven. Some on-air reporting segments by New York-based Fox News have debunked some of the claims targeting Dominion.

Both Dominion and Smartmatic have filed numerous lawsuits against some of Trump's legal team, supporters, and media companies such as Fox News and OAN.

"Lies and misinformation have severely damaged our company and diminished the credibility of U.S. elections, subjecting hardworking public officials and Dominion employees to harassment and death threats. Dominion is taking steps to right these wrongs through our judicial system," said a statement on the Dominion Voting Systems website that lists the latest legal updates.

Bedard says that the Dominion Voting Systems have even been investigated.

“Former Attorney General William Barre, both the Department of Justice and the FBI had investigated some of these claims. All of the claims as I understand it, I know the Department of Homeland Security has also investigated it, and none of the claims have been substantiated.”

Following the election in 2020, Bedard issued the following statement in regards to the claims of voter fraud:

As in every election, we have instances in which it appears that voters may have been attempting to vote twice. We will refer these to the District Attorney’s office for further investigation. They will determine if these were actually voter fraud. It does not appear that this occurred any more often this year than in past elections.

We have many processes in place to ensure the accuracy of the election equipment. Prior to each election, our office runs tests on every piece of equipment, both the equipment that tabulates the paper ballots and the ballot marking devices used by disabled voters at the poll sites to produce their paper ballots, to ensure their accuracy. In addition, we also have the Auditor-Controller’s internal audit staff perform a review of the operation of the equipment to confirm the accuracy, and the public is invited to observe this process.

After each election, in accordance with Election Code section 15360, we conduct a one percent manual tally of the votes to confirm the accuracy of the machine tabulation. In this process, one percent of the precincts are chosen at random and the votes are manually tallied to confirm the machine tabulation. This process is open to the public. We conducted our one percent manual tally during the canvass period after the Nov 3 election. No tabulation discrepancies were identified.

In the end, the motion ended up being approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

Bedard says that Kern County historically has had low voter turnout. But added that both the state and federal governments and the Kern County Elections office verify the validity of the system before each election. This includes logic and accuracy tests. Then standard tests after the elections.

“There’s what’s called a one percent. There’s what’s called a one percent manual test tally. It’s basically taking the one percent. You randomly draw one percent of all the precincts, and then you do a manual count for all of the ballots and all of the votes in those precincts compared against what the machine tabulation was to determine the variance. In our case, there’s never been any variance.”

Bedard says the concerns may come from what happened in Georgia, where they did a risk-limited audit. They recounted the votes – all by hand – because the 2020 elections for who would become president, was so close.

They ultimately confirmed the machine’s count.