BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The start of the election season is here and Kern County registered voters will soon get their mail-in ballots as the first batch was officially sent out Monday.
Executive Director of the Kern County GOP Matthew Martin says this election may get confusing starting with the ballot. Since there are so many candidates running in the statewide races, this is a 2-card ballot.
"Everybody no matter what is getting a ballot in the mail and so that can be confusing for some voters," said Martin.
"This year the ballot is going to be longer, so we are not typically used to long ballots," added Christian Romo, chair of the Democratic Kern County Party. "But don’t just fill out the front but also the back part. And also remember all elections matter, not just the state and governor races. They are all important to the people of Kern county."
You may also notice some people are listed twice, for example, U.S California Senator Alex Padilla. This is not a mistake.
"There will be a two-part series for U.S senator of California, one will be to elect someone to go to the general election for the senators race which has many people. The second is to fulfill the term that now VP Kamala Harris left early, so that is to fulfill the term from now until December," explained Romo.
You will see this in the June primary ballot and again in November.
Something else changing is district numbers. For example, previously local Congressman Kevin McCarthy represented District 23, which is now District 20 due to census redistricting.
"Just keep in mind that you may have moved districts. You may be in a new district, and you may have some new representatives representing you," continued Romo. "So do your homework. Read the sample ballots, read the voter reference guide. Go online, do all the research you can beforehand so you know you are making the right choice at the ballot box."
Some important dates to remember. Starting with May 17th. If you don’t receive your mail-in ballot by then, contact the Kern County Elections office.
If you are sending your vote by mail ballot, it must be postmarked by or on election day.
You can register to vote up to 15 days before an election which is May 23rd for this primary. Otherwise, you need a same-day voter registration.
"Don’t hold them. There are a lot of statewide and people not knowing who to vote for there," said Martin. "But don’t hold your ballots. Get them in. Especially these importance local races we have going in because it impacts our lives in major ways."
Voters who are planning to vote in person should keep their mail ballot and take it to the polls on election day. You will first have to surrender it to vote regularly. Election day is June 7th, so mark those calendars.
Meanwhile, local Democratic and Republican party leaders are combating misinformation and how mail-in ballots may help the poll worker shortage.
California recently passed legislation where every single Californian is going to receive a mail-in ballot.
Romo explains that although initially it was aimed at making it safer to vote during COVID, mail-in ballots are helping with the poll worker shortage.
"We have a really hard time getting poll workers so it is going to be very valuable and time-saving to vote by mail."
He adds sending it early will also make this election process smoother as the county has fewer volunteers.
But of course, not everyone wants to vote by mail
"And so it is important to note that if you get that ballot and you don’t want to be considered a provisional voter and you want to vote at the polls and take that with you to your polling place," said Martin. "And they will exchange that ballot and allow you to vote in person non-provisional."
It is important to know your mail-in ballot must arrive by May 17th which is next Tuesday. If you don't get one by then, you should call the elections office.