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Community expresses concern over Kern County vote counts

Voting (FILE)
Posted at 6:20 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 00:16:41-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Community members went before county supervisors this week to express concerns about the speed of counting ballots and the update of vote counts in Kern County.

It's been more than a week since California's midterm primary election was held and while the election office is still undergoing the counting process some community members say they believe there is work that needs to be done.

Vince Maiocco says that Orange, Tulare, and a variety of other neighboring counties have pre-determined dates and times on their website. He says he is concerned about voter metrics and information being made available to the public in a timely manner.

“Why does our election office take so long to update and post the vote count? Why does the election office not have a detailed itinerary of when and what times future vote counts will occur?”

However, Mary Beddard, the auditor-controller clerk for the Kern County Elections office says that the update was done as required.

“We update during the night on election night as it is required. The first update has to be within two hours of the close of polls. Most counties update between 8 and 8:30 and that is when we did our first update and after that we update at least every two hours which is required. So we had an update prior to 10, prior to midnight and then our final was before 1.”

Meanwhile, Tom Pavich, Kern County coordinator for the Election Integrity Project California says during the gubernatorial recall election last year observers who were verifying signatures were within one foot of the computer monitors so they could see signature comparisons. However, he says during this primary election, that wasn't the case.

“For some reason this year that procedure was changed and the monitors were moved seven and a half feet from where we were sitting and we have to look through a glass to do that. When our observers complained that they couldn’t see well enough, we were told that we could bring binoculars as a solution.”

Pavich says that while he did bring binoculars for signature verification it was difficult to go from binoculars to regular eyesight, write notes and go back to viewing signatures through the binoculars again saying this solution was not practical.

Bedard says that putting the monitors up on the wall in front of the observers was done simply as a COVID measure in 2020 and was also done in the recall of 2021 however she says it was never meant to be a permanent solution.

Bedard adds that going into the election Kern County did not have a lot of the equipment other counties use to make them better prepared for the mailing of ballots to all active registered voters.

“The only way for us to ensure that voters do not vote twice is to require that they surrender their mail ballot. For voters who do not surrender their mail ballot, we do require that they vote provisionally. That is a requirement from the secretary of state’s office."

Bedard says new equipment was purchased with state grant money and although it was not able to be implemented prior to the primary election it's expected to be ready in time for the general election.

“At that point, we will no longer have to require that voters surrender their mail ballots and therefore our provisional numbers should go down.”

Bedard says the vote by mail count should be done earlier next week and the provisional ballots are set to be looked at shortly after.