Due to all of the media hype about voter fraud and rigged elections, members of the 2016-2017 Kern County Grand Jury visited the Kern County Elections Office and met with Kern County Elections Chief Karen Rhea to go over the entire voting process.
Playing the "Devil's Advocate", the Grand Jury asked many questions trying to find some possible way in which voter fraud could be committed. Every possible scenario that was asked was met with a complete and logical process to prevent fraud. Most of the questions involved the use electronic voting machines and mail-in ballots.
The Grand Jury discovered that the voting machines are "stand alone", meaning they are never connected to the internet. The order in which the names appear on the ballot also change from district to district, thus eliminating the chance of the voting machines being pre-programmed to select a particular candidate.
For mail-in ballots, the signature on the envelope must match the signature on file. For instance, if someone has died, and someone else attempts to casts that person's ballot, the signature on the ballot envelope must match the signature on file, otherwise the ballot is not opened or counted.
When the signature does not match, it is reviewed by up to 6 different elections personnel, each with more experience, to determine if the signature is valid or not. If a ballot is determined to be fraudulent, the case is turned over to the District Attorney's office for prosecution.
The entire vote counting process is completed by Elections Office personnel and is video recorded to insure the integrity of the count. On election night, staff members from both political parties are invited to observe the counting process, along with members from the Kern County Grand Jury and anyone else from the public who is interested in attending.
The staff at the Elections Office deserve our respect and appreciation for the long hours they put in every election. There are many times staff members work 14 straight days, putting in 12 to 14 hours per day. By the conclusion of the visit, the Kern County Grand Jury was confident in the accuracy and integrity of the election process here in Kern County.