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Preparing to vote this November

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Preparing to vote this November
Posted at 4:02 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 21:21:26-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — On Thursday the Kern County Elections office told 23ABC they are on track and prepared for the upcoming election. Mary Bedard, Kern County Clerk, said all active registered voters will receive a vote by mail ballot this year.

According to Bedard about 72% of voters in Kern County vote by mail. The vote by mail ballots will be sent out to voters starting October 5.

Bedard also stated that the vote by mail process is secure.

"We've really got a very secure process. California has a lot of controls and we're use to this. We've always had a lot of voters in the last several elections - being a majority of the voters - vote by mail," said Bedard.

She also encouraged residents to vote early. When voters are ready they can drop off their ballots in person at the County Administration Building or in the mail, no postage is required.

However, those voters still wanting to go to the ballot box in person will have that option.

"We will still have as many poll sites as we had in March. So, voters are still free to go to a poll site and vote on election day if they choose to," said Bedard.

According to the elections office 400 election poll workers have been confirmed to volunteer this November. Typically there are almost 2,000 poll workers but Bedard said the elections office isn't concerned about getting more volunteers. However, if there aren't enough poll workers she said the elections office will have to work with the County Administrative Office to get additional workers.

"Potentially we could require county employees to work it since they are considered disaster workers, emergency workers...all county employees. We would rather not have to do that and we would like to get a lot of volunteers from the community but if it comes down to it that's what we're working on with the county," said Bedard.

The elections office also told 23ABC that half of vote by mail ballots are dropped off in person on election day at a poll site or the elections office. Currently the election office is working on a process to create drop off locations in outlying areas before election day. The office is also looking at setting up a curbside drop off option so voters can stay in their cars.

Inside polling locations protocols will be in place. The elections office has been working with the Kern County Public Health Department and the state to ensure proper social distancing and sanitizing measures. The elections office told 23ABC that polling locations will not require voters to wear masks.

However, Bedard said, "We would strongly encourage voters to wear masks. We will not require because we cannot deny people the right to vote but we will have separate protocols in place for someone who is unable to wear a mask."

23ABC reached out to the California Secretary of State Office about the guidance the county has received on face mask requirements. Sam Mahood, press security for California Secretary of State Alex Padilla responded by saying:

"Voters without masks will not be turned away, but they may have to use alternative voting stations that may force them to wait longer. They will also be slowing down the check-in process for their fellow citizens.
Elections officials are asking voters to respect public health guidelines and respect their fellow voters. There is a lot of work being done to ensure physical distancing measures are implemented at voting locations, and that face coverings and hand sanitizer are available to voters and poll workers."