Early recall returns suggest mild turnout in Kern County

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Here in Kern County, elections officials are still counting votes, but early numbers seem to paint a picture of low turnout.

About 90,000 votes had been counted as of Wednesday morning, representing just 20 percent of registered voters in the county. It’s one of the lowest voter turnout numbers in the state as of Wednesday night, though Bedard reserved judgement on turnout because there are still ballots to be counted.

“We have our first results, that’s all we’ve posted, which is vote-by-mail,” Bedard said. “We don’t really know what the turnout was, across the county, so it’s hard to say.”

As votes are counted in the coming week, Kern’s voter turnout should creep up, though as of now, the number is about half of the statewide turnout of 41 percent.

With days to go before Kern reaches a complete count, how interpretable are these early returns?

“I want to say that this is a bit on par with Kern County, that there’s a bit of low voter turnout,” Dr. Ivy Cargile, professor of political science at Cal State University, Bakersfield, said.

If the final numbers still show low turnout in Kern, Cargile won’t be surprised. She says voter apathy is an issue that she’s seen firsthand.

“A student was telling me yesterday that as she was going to drop off her ballot, her family was telling her, ‘Why are you bothering? Your vote doesn’t even matter in the first place,'” Cargile said.

While Newsom overwhelmingly survived the recall effort statewide, it was a different story here in Kern. Nearly 60 percent of ballots counted at press time were for the recall, with Larry Elder receiving a vast majority of replacement candidate votes.

That number may increase, as in-person ballots, which tend to skew Republican, make up much of the votes still to be counted.

Bedard said last night that the Elections Office has made no reports of fraudulent behavior to the district attorney’s office.

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