Due to the current public health pandemic, the Kern County Clerk Mary Bedard is proposing that all voters receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November election.
The Kern County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday to discuss switching to mail ballots, but the idea was shut down by a majority of the board.
The item caused a widespread debate. Those in favor of voting by mail said it’s a convenient way to vote, while ensuring the health of the public. But for others, it sparked concerns.
Supervisor Mick Gleason said, “I believe that voting and dropping a ballot in the box is a foundational element and principal of being an American.”
During Tuesday's meeting, all but one supervisor voted against the item. However, Leticia Perez, voted in favor. She said to Bedard, “it appears as though there is no support to do what you are asking, which is truly astonishing to me. But I don’t get to make the decisions up here”
The biggest concern for the majority of the public was voter fraud, something the District Attorney’s Office agrees with. Cynthia Zimmer with the DA's office said, “we have received numerous complaints of voter fraud. We have received about 150 accusations of voter fraud since 2016.”
County Clerk Mary Bedard disagrees, saying that Kern County already has 70% of its voters casting ballots by mail and it has yet to become an issue, adding that there is more control (in some ways) when it comes to vote by mail. She said, “there has never been in Kern County [in my experience] any kind of widespread voter fraud.” She added, “since we compare the signature on the return envelope with the signature on file and confirm that they match, vote by mail is an extremely secure method of voting.”
23ABC reached out to Political Analyst, Allen Bolar about mail-in-ballots and the potential for voter fraud happening. Bolar said he’s been studying to see if there’s been an up-tick in voter fraud in states that have used mail in ballots as a alternative to in-person voting during this health pandemic. He said, “I've seen no evidence in increased voter fraud, and I see no increase in partisan impact, which I think is another concern that people have”
23ABC reached out to the individual Board of Supervisors but have yet to hear back. County Clerk Mary Bedard declined to speak following the decision.