Frequently asked questions: reasons for varying ballots, unincorporated areas

Your Local Elections

Q. One viewer in Bakersfield – Diane – wants to know why her friend just a couple of blocks away has a different ballot than hers.

A. Mary Bedard – the Kern County Clerk at the elections office — says Kern has over 200 ballot types going to over 400,000 voters. There are so many variables that could change your ballot from your neighbors. Kern county has 47 different school districts, four assembly districts, two congressional districts, over a dozen cities. So your ballot will vary depending on where you live. Sometimes even people in the same city, and people in the same school district will get different ballots.

Q. Why would that happen?

A. For example – Bakersfield City School Board represents five different areas. You will only be able to vote for the candidates in your area. So even if you’re in the Bakersfield City School District, you could have a different ballot than someone across the street. And some cities like Delano — allow everyone in the city to vote for every open seat in city council. Other cities — like Bakersfield — have different wards or regions that council members represent. Thus – voters in Bakersfield can only vote for candidates in their ward.

Q. What about unincorporated areas?

A. If you’re in an unincorporated area — and there are plenty — that means you don’t have a local government and thus wont have city council candidates on your ballot. You can only vote on issues related to national, state, or county elections — including the assembly and congressional races.

If you find any problems with your ballot or if you have any questions, send an email to

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