BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — On Tuesday, exactly one week from California’s midterm primary election, a group of residents in Kern — many belonging to the Election Integrity Project — returned to the Board of Supervisors floor.
“I’m here as an advocate for election integrity and I’ve had some serious concerns regarding the Kern County elections office,” Taft Republican Assembly President and Election Integrity Project volunteer Vince Maiocco said at Tuesday’s meeting.
For months leading up to this year’s primary election, a group of citizens in Kern have stood up at meetings week after week, raising specific concerns with Kern’s election process in the 2020 election and 2021 recall.
One of the largest aspects of the process the group has honed in on is the step of verifying signatures on ballots.
Election Integrity Project Kern County Coordinator Tom Pavich said those wanting to watch the process in the 2021 recall were to be able to observe from one foot away.
“For some reason the elections office department decided this year to change that situation — we’re now seven and a half feet,” Pavich said.
Kern Auditor-Controller-County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Mary Bedard also took the floor at Tuesday’s meeting. She said observers could watch the signature check step from less than 6 feet away.
“You have the monitor with the screen, you have the worker sitting behind the screen doing the signature checking, then there is the glass partition, then the observers sit directly behind that,” Bedard said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Bedard’s announcement that Kern still has about 60,000 ballots left to count a week after the election also became a point of contention.
“A lot of ballots still have not been counted. I mean the numbers really haven’t changed a lot,” Maiocco said.
At the meeting, Maiocco raised concern about what he considers slow ballot counting, which re-sparked the groups months-long argument that the position that runs Kern’s elections should be split from the Auditor-Controller duties.
“This is probably example number 952 of why that position needs to be de-coupled from the Auditor-Controller-County Clerk position,” Maiocco said.
Bedard said it is not true that Kern has given less updates on results than other counties in California. She pointed to the fact that Kern gave it’s second update since election night on Monday, while other counties have still only given one.