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Voter information in Kern County delayed due to staffing changes

Posted at 6:06 PM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-14 11:13:08-05

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — On Wednesday, 23ABC reported that the county did not have access to information on our local election measures that are on the March ballot.

The elections department reached out to 23ABC again and says the delay of information is due to a change within its department.

California's Primary Election is less than three weeks away and will be a part of Super Tuesday.

Here in Kern County, the elections department tells 23ABC, printed information about local measures is not on the Kern election website.

Those measures include the controversial marijuana Measures D and School Bond measures in Wasco and Mcfarland, Measures A, B, and C.

This information is usually sent out with the mail ballot or is online.

According to Mary Bedard, Registrar of Voters, there is a delay due to staffing changes at the department.

"We lost our top four employees and they retired at the end of 2019," Bedard said. "So between them, they had about 120 years of election experience. So the staff we have is very good, but they are just less experienced."

Bedard adds that the office delayed the sample ballots to ensure that the information they put out is correct.

When asked how many ballots have they received back without receiving information from the elections office, she says about 2,000 voters have already submitted their ballots.

Also, for those individuals their ballots are final.

"By law, the first ballot in is the ballot that's counted in this election, said Bedard. "I trust that most voters would not have voted if they did not have that information to them or got them from someplace.

According to Bedard and the Secretary of State's office, there is no legal requirement that the sample ballot must go out before the vote by mail or that it must be included online.

Bedard says that an audio version with the measures information and candidate statements is now available online.

23ABC asked, Bedard if the department expected to put additional information online about the different local measures added to the audio.

"Our website doesn't accommodate the requirements having ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible information in print," Bedard said. "So we are not able to put our sample ballot out at this point."

She adds that the voter guides were mailed out on Tuesday, and people should receive the sample ballots sometime this week or early next week.

Despite the delay, the elections office says they are ready for Super Tuesday, but can always use additional poll workers.