The Kern County Registrar of Voters is not in the prognostication business, but she'll go out on a limb this time.
Karen Rhea said Monday she feels confident enough, based on early traffic, to predict a record turnout in the Nov. 6 election.
"This is the earliest I've seen people vote," Rhea said Monday, about 19 hours before polls were to have opened for traditional, walk-in balloting. "There's been a steady line all day."
Vote-by-mail balloting has also been steady. Rhea said all of the ballots to come in, through Saturday, have already been processed.
"Our people are working hard," she said. "We're caught up."
Or they were. Sixteen more trays of ballots came through the door Monday morning. That's 7,000 new votes to process (not not count).
Election watchers will get their first batch of numbers right after polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday — or as soon as everyone who's already in the door of the county elections division completes his or her ballot.
"It should only be a few minutes, almost right away," Rhea said. "Although last year it was practically 9. One gentleman was reticent. We couldn't get him to finish. I had to show him the statute. You've only got 15 minutes to vote. I got called quite a few names."
The elections division will then be updating results every two hours, Rhea said — until all of the voting is in.
"We'll be here till 3 in the morning, at least," Rhea said. "Last year it was 4 a.m. Then we're back at 8 a.m."
Last year, Rhea, said, she went home at the end of a 21-hour day — and turned on the TV to see more election results. So she might get four hours' sleep. And she might get one.
The Arvin City Council race has seen a late influx of outside campaign financing, including a new donation from billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, a frequent and high profile critic of President Trump.
The race has turned into a referendum on an ordinance passed in July that established restrictions on new gas and oil wells in city limits. Because of that, it has attracted more money than you’d normally see in the small Valley city with a part-time council, with very little of the money coming from Arvin residents. There are eight candidates running for three open seats on the five-seat council.
Jazmin Robles, who supported the ordinance and is seeking her second term on the council, received a $2,000 donation from Tom Steyer. Steyer, a Bay Area billionaire, is a major donor of the Democratic Party, Democratic Party candidates and environmental issues, particularly those related to climate change. So far Steyer's is the only donation reported for any of the candidates who support the ordinance; their challengers have been much better funded.
The Californian previously reported that the committee behind Daniel "Nano" Borreli, Abdo Algabyali and Mark Franetovich had $25,500 and $20,000 of that was from the California Independent Petroleum Association. That slate has received an additional $3,000 from a group called the Kern Island Political Action Committee, according to recent campaign disclosures.
The Kern Island PAC has been associated with local Republican interests. It has spent $78,421 to support Justin Mendes, a Hanford City Councilman and Republican who is challenging Assemblyman Rudy Salas. It has donated $34,035 to County Supervisor David Couch, who is running to keep his seat in the heavily redrawn 4th District. It also sent out mailers on behalf of Scott Spielman, who lost to Cynthia Zimmer in the District Attorney race this June.
The candidates for the 21st Congressional District seat have announced the location of their respective election night parties, and they're 86 miles apart.
Rep. David Valadao will be at St. John’s Hall, 8301 8½ Avenue, in Hanford. Joining him will Rep. Devin Nunes, state Sen. Andy Vidak, and Hanford Councilman Justin Mendes, as well as volunteers and supporters. The party starts at 8 p.m.
Democratic challenger TJ Cox's Election Night party will be at the Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties Central Labor Council, 200 W. Jeffrey St. in Bakersfield.
Things voters need to know for the Nov. 6 election:
• How to find your voting location: The Kern County Elections Division has an online tool available to look up your polling location using your address. Go to https://www.kernvote.com/Voting/ and click on "Go to a Polling Place." Then type in your address.
• When are polls open? Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
• What is my vote-by-mail deadline? Personally delivered ballots must be handed over by the close of polls on Nov. 6. Mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 6 and received by the County Elections Office no later than Nov. 9.
• How to return a vote-by-mail ballot: Vote-by-mail ballots can returned one of four ways:
Mailing it to the county elections office.
Returning it in person to a polling place of the county elections office.
Dropping it into one of the county’s ballot drop boxes.
Authorizing someone to return the ballot on your behalf.