RECALL: What to expect on election day

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Tomorrow, more than 170 polling sites will open their doors to Kern County voters for the California recall election. Based on early mail-in vote returns — more than 100,000 ballots are in, representing nearly 25 percent of Kern County voters — Kern County Clerk Mary Bedard expects high participation.

“For a special election, that is a pretty high turnout, more than we might have expected,” Bedard said.

If you’re voting in-person Tuesday, plan when and where you’re going to cast your ballot.

Polls open at 7 a.m. As long as you’re in line before 8 p.m., you’ll be able to vote, but lines get longer as the day goes on. The best times to vote with no wait are late morning and early afternoon.

“It’s usually busy early in the morning, people going in to vote before they go to work, and then late afternoon, on their way home from work,” Bedard said. “Often times, if they’re doing it outside of those peak times, they can just walk in and vote, there wouldn’t really be a wait time.”

Waiting times should be lower across the board compared to last November, when social distancing measures limited the number of people allowed in a polling place. The clerk’s office has raced to fill poll worker positions in the past weeks, recruiting employees from across the county.

If you’re a registered voter, you should have received a ballot in the mail. Bring that ballot to your polling location to avoid voting provisionally. If you’re not registered yet, you can register at the polls tomorrow. Just ask for a Conditional Voter Registration form — you can register and cast your vote at the same time.

“Just come in, they fill out what is essentially the information from the voter registration form,” Bedard said. “On election day, people can go to any poll site and then the poll workers will be able to do the conditional voter registration for them.”

To find your closest polling place, check kernvote.com.

Tomorrow might be a long night for anyone eager for results. The county will release early vote-by-mail tallies after the last voter in Kern has cast their ballot — likely between 9 and 10 p.m. Because votes have to be driven to the elections office from places like Ridgecrest — almost two hours away — we might not have a clear picture of the results for hours or even days after the polls close.

“Typically, we would not be getting Ridgecrest in until about 1 in the morning, 1:30 even,” Bedard said. “From the standpoint of Kern County, we have to then do all the signature checking, do all of those controls.”

Early vote-by-mail results will likely skew Democratic, while in-person tallies updated throughout the night usually lean Republican.

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