With Election Day just days away, the Kern County Elections office continues to receive ballots at higher rates than precious years, officials say.
The Kern County Elections office has received more than 130,000 mail-in ballots.
“This is much more than at this point in past elections,” said May Bedard, the auditor-controller and county clerk.
Those who have submitted their ballot only make up 33 percent of registered voters, according to Linda Fiddler, a civic engagement activist and campaign consultant.
Just over 139,000 Kern County voters of 422,097 have submitted their ballots. Based on these numbers, vote-by-mail turnout is already higher this election than from the 2016 election, which had a vote-by-mail turnout of 53 percent, according to Fiddler. In the 2016 election, 134,000 vote by mail ballots were returned.
One group of voters that is on track to turn out in higher numbers than previous elections is voters between the ages of 18 to 35 years old.
Thus far, 31,280 voters, or 21 percent of Kern County voters in this age group, have turned in their ballots, according to Fiddler. This number has surpassed the number of Kern voters in this age group that turned in mail-in ballots in the 2016 election by more than 6,000 votes.
However, Kern County voters over the age of 60 have turned in the most ballots thus far, with 58,128 ballots.
Data also shows Democrats and Republicans are close in the number of ballots that have been submitted thus far. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats — or 54,857 voters — and 34 percent of Republicans — or 52,989 voters — have turned in their ballots.
Advocates suggest if ballots have not been mailed by now to drop them off at an official ballot location. Voters are still able to drop off their ballots at the Kern County Elections Office Monday through Friday and this Saturday, Oct. 31. Voters can also drop off their ballots at Bakersfield College, Cal State Bakersfield and several Kern County Libraries from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Voters can also track their ballot using California.battottrax.net. The site will give updates through email or text from when the ballot is printed all the way till it is accepted to be counted.
For assistance, voters can call (661)868-3590 or 1(800) 452-8683 to talk to a multilingual staff. Each polling station will also have someone who speaks Spanish to help assist. Some polling sites will have materials in and workers who speak; Tagalog, Ilocano, and Punjabi to help voters.
For those not registered to vote, they can register on Election Day at their polling station. Voters can find their polling site at sos.ca.gov, along with what’s on the ballot and how to contact local election officials.
Berdard said those voting at their polling sites will need to bring their mail ballot to surrender in order to vote at the site.
“Otherwise you will have to vote provisionally. If you are voting your mail ballot, make sure to sign the return envelope,” she said.
Voters should also take a form of identification to their polling site.