Brakes slapped on recall: Court’s decision could cost county thousands of dollars
If upheld, a court decision Monday to postpone the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall would add more expenses for Nevada County for an already costly election, County Clerk-Recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick said Monday.
Implementation of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision was delayed for one week, allowing time for appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
For now, the county Elections Office is conducting business as usual and urging people to continue sending in absentee ballots and voting early at the Elections Office’s voting stations, Jewett-Burdick said.
“The last thing we want is for people to discard their ballots, have this opinion overturned, and then the county has to use tens of thousands of dollars to re-send ballots,” she said.
“Especially for my Truckee voters, the election is still on for the [week],” Jewett-Burdick added. She said if Truckee voters threw out their ballots and the Court of Appeals’ decision was overturned, the county would only have two weeks to send out and get the ballots returned.
Jewett-Burdick stressed that she has no opinion on the court decision but said the county has already spent about $120,000 on preparations for the recall election – money that is never coming back.
Estimates of the total costs to the county, if the election does go as scheduled, are between $140,000 and $150,000, and most of the money still to be spent is earmarked for paying for poll workers and polling places.
She said Nevada County has already printed and mailed 61,000 sample ballot booklets, printed 26,000 absentee ballots, mailed 22,000 absentee ballots, printed 49,650 polling place ballots and developed the election-specific software needed to count ballots on Election Night.
“Every dime we spent would be wasted if the election was postponed,” Jewett-Burdick said. Because the ballots have an October date and because there has to be a certain order for ballots, new ballots would have to be printed and any votes cast would not count, she said.
“An election is a snapshot in time of the will of the electorate. So we can’t take a picture of part of the electorate in October and then take a picture of part of the electorate in March and call it the will of the electorate,” Jewett-Burdick said.
Meanwhile, elections officials are already trying to balance recall preparations with those for a regularly scheduled election.
“Candidate filing for the March election begins a week from Friday, so it’s a busy time,” Jewett-Burdick said.
Jim “One Buck” Weir, Nevada County’s only representative on the 135-candidate recall ballot, said a delay in the recall would have no effect on his campaign or his fund-raising efforts.
“I don’t care; I’ll be ready in October, and I’ll be ready in March,” he said. “Who knows, if I get another six months, maybe I’ll get another $53.”
Weir, who is limiting each campaign contribution to $1, will appear on “The Late Show with Jay Leno” Sept. 22 to promote his candidacy and is trying to visit every county in California.
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