BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The vast majority of ballots reached the Kern County Elections Office by early Wednesday morning. As the last mail-in ballots come in, residents are again raising concerns about the security of the vote-by-mail process.
Elections officials worked into the early hours of Wednesday morning verifying and counting votes. Their work was carried out under scrutiny that by now has become familiar.
Since universal vote-by-mail became permanent in California last fall, voters in Kern have voiced their worries that the system makes elections less secure.
“We have a 100 percent mail-out system, so all those votes end up in the community,” Kern County coordinator for the Election Integrity Project Tom Pavich said. “Some of them that come back may not be legitimate. And with the state of California and the Secretary of State mandating what we feel is a watered-down signature verification process, I can’t feel comfortable that 100 percent of the votes that are cast are honest and legitimate votes.”
While the final numbers haven’t yet been tallied, the majority of votes cast in Tuesday’s primary were vote-by-mail ballots. Elections officials continue to assure voters that the vote-by-mail process is just as safe as voting in-person.
“California has very tight security that they require of all the counties,” Kern County registrar of voters Mary Bedard said. “Testing before the election, testing the equipment, and then after the election we do a one-percent hand count of all the ballots to compare to the machine count. We do check every signature that comes from a mail ballot. So voters can be very confident in security.”
Every signature on a mail-in ballot is checked at least twice against the individual’s voter registration card: once by software and once by hand. Elections officials tell 17 News they’ve never had a single tabulation error when counting one percent of votes by hand and comparing those results to their machines.
17 News has been following questions of election security for months now. Click here to watch our in-depth report, “How Safe is your Vote in Kern County.”