Record recall turnout expected in Nevada County
Despite continually rising cost estimates and an unusually short time frame, county officials are finding positives in the trying preparations for the Oct. 7 recall election.
Though local voter registration has cooled off recently – the County Elections Office was receiving 150 registration cards per day a few weeks ago – the office still gets about 50 cards each day, and County Clerk-Recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick is projecting high voter turnout.
“We have seen more voter registration cards coming in earlier than we have in past elections,” she said.
Jewett-Burdick said the county has ordered enough ballots to serve 95 percent of registered voters, which should more than cover the 82 to 87 percent turnout she estimated. Nevada County routinely tops 80 percent voter turnout in presidential elections, but interest is generally lower in gubernatorial races. The highest turnout on record for any county election is 83.01 percent in the 1976 presidential general election.
The increased interest in recall elections and high voter registration can help counties update their records, Jewett-Burdick said. The county will begin sending sample ballots to voters Thursday and Jewett-Burdick encouraged voters to get their current registration information to the County Elections Office by Wednesday.
“It always been said by election officials that the best day to clean up the voter registration database is to have a recall election,” she said. “If there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud which is the cost of this election it is more accurate voter data.”
Grass Valley resident Tom Oaks, who registered Monday after a recent move, said he thinks the recall is “frivolous.”
“I’ve been a registered voter for many years but I especially wanted to register because of the recall,” he said.
Despite having to prepare for the recall on a shortened time frame, elections officials have been able to line up all 78 polling places and poll workers needed for the recall. Poll workers may be especially crucial for voters struggling with a 135 candidate ballot in randomly selected name order, though the elections office is encouraging residents to consult their sample ballot before the election to save time.
“If someone sees that list of 135 candidates for the first time in that voting booth, they have done a disservice to everyone else in line,” Jewett-Burdick said.
Keith Harris, who has been a poll inspector the past three elections, said he anticipates few problems, despite the large ballot.
“Basically, there are only two races going on and I am sure there has been so much press about it that everybody is well aware of what they are voting for,” he said.
The deadline to register to vote and still receive a sample ballot is Sept. 8 and the deadline for late voter registration is Sept. 22. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Sept. 30.
Voters can register at most Nevada County offices, the Department of Motor Vehicles, any post office or the library and voters must register if they have never registered in the county; have moved; have changed their name; or wish to change party affiliation.
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Nevada County recorded 11 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday making the new total 5,693.