Early mail-in counts show Kern County under statewide ballot return rate

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As mail-in ballots for the recall election continue to come in, the California secretary of state’s office is releasing data on how many ballots have made their way back to the polls. 

In Kern County, 15 percent of the county’s 441,000 registered voters have filled out and returned their mail-in ballots, as of September 1.  

That lags significantly behind the state’s overall return rate of 21 percent, led by large numbers of mail-in votes in the Bay Area and Northern California.  

“In terms of voter turnout, we’ve had 68,000 mail-in ballots returned, compared to about 86,000 at this point before the November election,” Kern County Clerk Mary Bedard said. 

The party preferences of these mail-in ballots aren’t released, and results won’t be counted until election night, but across the state, mail-in ballots tend to skew Democratic and come back overwhelmingly from voters older than 60.  

If you didn’t receive a mail-in ballot, chances are you’re not registered to vote. The good news is that there’s still a way to get registered and vote on September 14. It’s called Conditional Voter Registration, and it’s simple.  

“Between now and election day, [conditional voter registration] can be done in the election office,” Bedard said. “People can come in and they fill out what is essentially the information from the voter registration form.” 

Your ballot won’t be counted until your registration is processed and your identification is verified, but once that goes through, your vote will count in this election.  

Right now, the only place voters can conditionally register to vote is the Kern County Elections Office in downtown Bakersfield, but come September 14, every polling place in Kern County will offer voters the chance to register to vote and cast their ballot in the recall election.  

If you have a question about the election that you want answered, send an email to ChrisBurton@KGET.com. 

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