Nevada Co., Truckee to be part of election change pilot program
November 28, 2016
NEVADA CITY, Calif. — Come 2018, all registered Nevada County voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot, regardless of whether they asked for one.
They’ll also no longer have precincts scattered across the county, but instead get a handful of vote centers in five or six spots.
It’s a massive change for Nevada County, and one that will become statewide by 2020. A pilot program, of which Nevada County is part, will see those changes in 2018.
“Everyone is going to be mailed a ballot,” said Greg Diaz, Nevada County’s registrar of voters.
Senate Bill 450, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown two months ago, enacts the sweeping changes. Diaz will attend a meeting in about two weeks with the Secretary of State’s Office to learn more about the new system.
“This is all early stages,” he said.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, voters will get their ballots in the mail about a month before election day, which in Nevada County will happen first for the 2018 primary election.
They can then mail back the completed ballot, deliver it to a vote center or bring it to a designated drop-off location.
Diaz hasn’t yet finalized vote center spots, though he’s looking at South County, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Truckee and Penn Valley.
“I’m going to be sitting down with my staff and figuring it out,” he said.
Precincts will disappear under the new system and be replaced by vote centers. Voters will be able to cast ballots at any vote center, as well as drop-off their ballots, use voting machines and register to vote on the day of the election.
Election-day registration also is new to the state. It becomes effective Jan. 1.
Drop-off locations will appear about a month before each election. Vote centers will follow days before election day.
There will be one ballot drop-off location for every 15,000 registered voters. They’ll open 28 days before each election.
At least one vote center would open 10 days before each election. Several more would open the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before an election and remain open on election day.
“For many working Californians it may make more sense to cast a ballot the week before Election Day at a location closer to where they work, or where they drop off their kids, or where they go to college,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a news release. “Why limit voting to one location on a single Tuesday?”
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