Top counter: Clerk-recorder candidates discuss office process, transparency
You knew a question about election fraud was coming.
The three candidates for Nevada County clerk-recorder/registrar of voters — Natalie Adona, Paul Gilbert and Jason Tedder — fielded questions Tuesday from the public and media about transparency and process.
And, of course, election fraud.
The June 7 election, which will feature races like Board of Supervisors Districts 3 and 4, as well as clerk-recorder — comes some nine months after the gubernatorial recall and marks the first federal election since November 2020, the results of which, amid other factors, ultimately led to rioters occupying the nation’s Capitol building.
Adona said the polarized mindset unable to come to terms with the majority vote is not derived from issues of process in the elections office.
“It’s about the diminution of faith in our democracy,” Adona said. “I compare democracy to a beautiful tapestry. It’s delicate and if you pull on a thread, it frays.”
Adona said the clerk-recorder establishes ethos through their professional and nonpartisan attitude, as well as their understanding, knowledge and experience of the law.
When asked for his thoughts on the events of January 2021, Tedder said he was choosing “not to focus on the past.”
“I’m aware there are a lot of (people) in my community and country that feel cheated,” Tedder said. “It’s not worth the time to go back and resurrect what happened in the past. Honestly, I think politics need to stay out of it. These things need to be as apolitical as possible. I believe in the rule of law. … I’m much more focused on what I can do for you in the future.”
Gilbert said he was retired and enjoyed time working in his garden, until “one day someone said, ‘We got some problems with the elections.’
“As a result, I opened business citizen-auditors to help other citizens audit and investigate other elections,” said Gilbert, who called himself an entrepreneur-engineer.
Gilbert said he became interested in the position after an interaction he had with Adona in September, saying she “refused to accept his paperwork.”
Adona said she had never seen data amassed or compared in the way Gilbert’s company chose to relay it in his report.
“It’s not like data analysis I’ve ever seen in my years of research,” Adona said. “It’s like comparing two unlike things and asking why there’s a discrepancy.”
Adona is the current assistant clerk-recorder/registrar of voters.
Tedder said he does not have experience in an elected office, and intends to learn a lot about the position while on the job.
Candidates must be at least 18 years of age, a registered voter and a resident of the county, Tedder said.
Tedder added that he has experience overseeing “men, women, nationals from other countries.”
Tedder said he is able to learn on the job, and get along with everyone.
Gilbert and Tedder both said they had doubts about mail-in ballots.
Adona said that before Nevada County adopted the Voters Choice Act, “about 80%” of registered voters were already voting by mail.
“When they voted in 2019, 90% of people got a ballot,” Adona said, adding that she thinks the option is helpful to those who can’t show up in person, “in particular, our voters in the military overseas who have that right.”
Gilbert said the fact that voters receive a ballot at home or can fill one out in person — meaning they can access more than one at a time — allows for the possibility of fraud.
Gilbert said his professional experience with technology would help mitigate any trust issues with electronic voting machines.
He added that the time between when the ballot is dropped off at the post office and when it arrives at the location where it’s counted is a vulnerable period in the election’s process.
Tedder said one improvement he would add to the process is to have a deputy transport the ballots, as opposed to the postal service.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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About 100 Nevada County voters have already cast their ballots, the elections office said.