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What you need to know as Election Day 2020 approaches

Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, is fast approaching.

Here are some need-to-know items entering this weekend and early next week as we approach the 2020 election:

Voters who still need assistance with voting, or who just want to drop off their mail ballot in person, can visit the Elections Office. Hours were extended this week in anticipation of the coming election. The Kern County Elections Office, located at 1115 Truxtun Avenue, will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Some of the assistance offered includes conditionally registering to vote, getting a replacement for a lost or spoiled ballot, language assistance, or using the accessible ballot marking device.

There will be curbside drop-off ballot events staffed by election workers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the following locations:

  • Bakersfield College at the corner of Haley Street and Panorama Drive
  • The Icardo Center on the campus of Cal State Bakersfield
  • Kern County Library branches in Arvin, Delano, Frazier Park, Kern River Valley, Ridgecrest, Rosamond, Taft, Tehachapi and Wasco

Those who are mailing in their votes rather than dropping them off should consider that ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received within 17 days following an election. Postage is not required on the return envelope of the mail ballot and hasn't been since 2019.

Once voters have already dropped off or mailed in their ballots, they can track their ballot’s progress through the Secretary of State’s ballot tracking system at california.ballottrax.net/.

Laura Cantu, acting division chief of the Kern County Elections Office, said in a statement that all ballots dropped off at satellite offices or official Saturday drop-off events are delivered to the Elections Office on the same day. However, the system does not record the ballots until they have been processed.

Ballots that aren't properly signed won't count. But some mistakes can be corrected, even after Election Day. Voters whose signatures don't match the ones the Kern County Elections Division has on file will be asked to submit a Signature Verification Statement by Nov. 23. And voters who forget to sign their ballots entirely can either come into the Elections Office or send in a statement by the same date.

Voters who prefer to vote in person at one of the 150 polling places open around the county on Election Day can surrender their mail ballot. Voters who don't bring the mail ballot have to vote conditionally, and their ballots will be counted once the Elections Office confirms no mail ballot was voted.

Poll workers will be following CDC guidelines to protect poll workers and voters. These include using hand sanitizer, regularly disinfecting surfaces and ensuring physical distancing. That may include asking voters to wait in line outside their precincts. Voters are not mandated to wear masks but they are strongly encouraged. There are alternate protocols for voters without masks.

To find a polling site, voters can visit: https://bit.ly/3jKrzdF

Voters who don't want to get out of their cars can vote curbside at three locations in Bakersfield: the Elections Office, Bakersfield College or CSUB. There will also be curbside voting at Strata Center in California City, North Kern Community School in Delano, Frazier Park Branch Library, Kern River Valley Veterans Building, David Head Community Building in Lamont, Kerr McGee Community Center in Ridgecrest, Wanda Kirk Library in Rosamond, Taft Veterans Building, First Baptist Church in Tehachapi and Wasco Veterans Hall.

Voters who do go to a polling place are welcome to do a “ballot selfie” but the Elections Division reminded voters on its Facebook page that they are entitled to certain protections as they are entering and exiting the polling site.

“NO ONE has the right to film or photograph you while you cast your ballot,” the statement says. “No ONE has the right to try and influence your decision before you vote within 100 feet of your polling place. And anyone conducting exit polling has to be 25 feet from your polling place.”

The division said anyone violating those boundaries should be reported immediately to a poll worker.

For more information or questions, call the Elections Division at 868-3590, e-mail them at elections@kerncounty.com or visit the office in person at 1115 Truxtun Avenue.