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By Casey Christie / The Californian
BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kern County District Attorney's office has launched an investigation into reports that get-out-the-vote workers supporting Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez in the 16th Senate District race offered to take ballots from voters and deliver them.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman said the Kern County Elections Department forwarded a complaint to his office.
"We are in the midst of an investigation," he said.
He said he could not talk about the details of the ongoing inquiry.
California Elections Code allows only family members who live with a voter to deliver a ballot to the polls on his or her behalf.
Perez, a Democrat who lost the July 23 election to Hanford Republican Andy Vidak, said she was not aware of the allegations that some of her supporters violated the law.
"Our campaign was very clear not to take ballots," she wrote in a text message. "We will see the results of the investigation."
A number of labor and state Democratic organizations operated get-out-the-vote efforts independent of the Perez campaign.
Kern County Deputy Registrar of Voters Karen Rhea said her office brought outside complaints to the district attorney.
"We have received some complaints from voters who have been contacted by campaign workers requesting to return their vote-by-mail ballots for them," Rhea said. "We have reported the complaints to the District Attorney's office and the Secretary of State's office."
Ricardo Moreno of Shafter told The Californian he was so incensed when his wife told him about her experience with Perez supporters that he called the Elections Division to complain.
"Even though I wasn't supporting (Perez), I was hoping things would be clean," he said.
His wife and sister-in-law were visiting family in Wasco, he said, when a canvasser knocked on the door and asked for a woman who lived there.
Moreno said the worker was persistent, asking if the woman -- a vote-by-mail voter -- had received her ballot, whether she'd voted and when she planned to do so.
He said the woman tried to put the worker off and "told her she hadn't received her ballot."
The worker, Moreno said, told the woman that they would be glad to come back and pick up the ballot when it did arrive.
The voter tried to tell the woman not to bother, he said.
"The campaign worker said, 'There (will be) a lot more people coming back for your ballot,'" Moreno said.
Watch a Kern County Elections video on protecting your ballot: