Gregory Diaz, Nevada County’s top elections official, speaks out against local Tea Party message | SierraSun.com

Gregory Diaz, Nevada County’s top elections official, speaks out against local Tea Party message

Nevada County's top elections official has slammed messaging issued by the local Tea Party, saying the group wants to restrict access to the polls.

The president of the local group disputes Gregory Diaz's take, saying she wants every legal, registered voter to cast a ballot.

Diaz, the county's clerk-recorder/registrar of voters, said in a statement sent Monday to The Union that some organizations are trying to convince people not to vote by mail in the March 26 special election for state Senate District 1.

"The Nevada County Tea Party is one of those," Diaz states. "In fact, the Tea Party urges voters not to even open ballots received in the mail until they are inside a vote center. They argue that voting by mail is not safe.

"Their true intent: make it more difficult for folks to vote," he continues.

The local Tea Party in an email states that the Election Integrity Project strongly recommends people not open their vote-by-mail ballot and instead vote in person on election day. They say people should surrender their ballot to a poll worker in exchange for a paper ballot. Those who don't have their vote-by-mail ballot can cast a provisional ballot.

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Diaz said the email is wrong. People no longer cast provisional ballots.

"Emails like this, I believe, are a tactic to suppress the vote and making voting more difficult," Diaz added.

In his statement Diaz said he thinks people who want to suppress the vote are frightened by the vote-by-mail model because it increases participation.

Jan Collins, president of the Nevada County Tea Party, strongly disagrees.

"We want every legal, registered voter in this county, or any county for that matter, or anywhere in the United States, we want them to vote," Collins said. "Why would we want them to not vote? Does he indicate why we would want to do that?"

Collins pointed to the Election Integrity Project's settlement of a lawsuit with the state of California and Los Angeles County. Reports state the Los Angeles County registrar will remove 1.5 million inactive voters from the rolls. Secretary of State Alex Padilla agreed to tell all election officials that inactive voters must be cancelled under federal law.

"We did not ask voters to not vote by mail," Collins said. "We did point out that vote-by-mail does have issues with it.

"If you want to be sure that your vote is counted and accurate, then you need to go in and vote the old-fashioned way," she added.

Diaz said his office's primary mission is to protect the integrity of elections. He welcomes the public to watch how his office conducts elections.

"I can't have it when someone's telling people not to vote, or not to vote their vote-by-mail ballot," Diaz said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.