GUEST COLUMN: What you need to know to vote on November 7
Truckee area residents are beginning to focus on the upcoming Nov. 7 General Election. As the Nevada County Clerk-Recorder, I would like to share some information regarding deadlines and the behind-the-scenes administration of this important election.
The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 10. You must re-register if you move, change your name, or change your party. Each time the elections office receives a Voter Registration Card, that voter receives a Voter Notification Card. It’s tan, and about the size of a small postcard.
This is important for several reasons: there have been instances in the past in which a third party collected Voter Registration Cards and failed to submit them to the elections office before the voter registration deadline. Nearly a dozen voters were disenfranchised in this way before the March 7 primary election, and a Secretary of State Office investigation is underway.
You can prevent this potential problem by ensuring that you submit your own Voter Registration Card before the deadline. If you allow a third party to submit your Voter Registration Card, and you do not receive a tan Voter Notification Card, it is likely that you are not registered to vote. I encourage you to complete another Voter Registration Card; they are available at post offices, government offices, libraries and many businesses. State law says that a completed Voter Registration Card must be postmarked by the Oct. 10 deadline and received in the elections office by Friday, Oct. 13. There is a good chance a Voter Registration Card mailed from Truckee on the deadline will not be received in Nevada City within three days, so please plan ahead.
Over the past few months, many Truckee-area voters received postcards from the elections office requesting the recipients to verify their address. These postcards were prompted by information received from the U.S. Post Office which indicated the voter changed his or her address. If a voter did not return the postcard to the Nevada County Elections Office to verify his or her address, it is likely that voter’s registration was inactivated. Anyone who received the address verification card and failed to return it should complete a new voter registration card, or call the elections office to ensure they are registered at the correct address.
Every registered voter will soon receive a sample ballot booklet. Most voters will receive their sample ballot booklet by the end of this month; those who register on or near the Oct. 10 deadline will receive their sample ballot booklet in mid-October.
If your household receives a sample ballot booklet in error (for example, addressed to someone who no longer lives there), please write “NOT AT THIS ADDRESS” across the back cover and place the booklet in the U.S. Mail. Doing so will help the elections office keep our voter file accurate and save tax dollars. After the March primary election, 323 voters who had moved out of the county were inactivated as a result of returned sample ballot booklets. Since each book costs approximately $4 per voter per election, this will save county taxpayers $1,292 at each election in the future. With your help, we hope to create even more savings in November and in ensuing elections.
On the back page of your sample ballot booklet, you will find an application to vote by mail, also known as an absentee ballot application. The elections office must receive your absentee ballot application by Oct. 31 (postmarks do not count). As we did during the March primary election, the elections office has arranged for a special courier to hand-deliver absentee ballots to the Truckee Post Office. This eliminates the time-consuming Nevada City-to-Marsyville-to-Reno-to-Truckee postal relay. But please allow plenty of time for the mail to make the Truckee-to-Reno-to-Marysville-to-Nevada City relay on your absentee ballot’s return trip!
The elections office must receive your absentee ballot by 8 p.m. on Election Day. You may also drop off your absentee ballot at any polling place, or deliver it directly to the Elections Office in the HEW Complex on Willow Valley Road in Nevada City. For your convenience, we will install two voting booths in the elections office lobby and you may vote in our office from Oct. 10 through Nov. 7.
Each Nevada County voter will cast one of 27 different ballot types in this election, depending on the candidates and issues in their geographic area. There are also eight state initiatives on every ballot, in addition to President, U.S. Senate, etc. If you vote at the polls, please take a moment to thank the pollworkers there. Democracy works in Nevada County because our pollworkers are willing to work from 6:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.!
On Election Night, more than 75 county department heads, county employees and concerned citizens will donate up to four hours of their time to help ensure the ballots are ready to be counted quickly and accurately by our computerized ballot scanners. The first results will be released at approximately 8:15 p.m. on Election Night. Those are the absentee ballots submitted to the elections office before Election Day, whose signatures on the return envelopes have been verified. The first polling place ballots will arrive at the elections office at approximately 8:30 on Election Night, which will allow us to release those results by 9 p.m. Results will be updated hourly thereafter. Eastern Nevada County ballots will again be counted in Truckee, with those results sent to the elections office via computer modem. You will have results of your local races early in the evening, rather than waiting for a plane to deliver eastern Nevada County ballots to Nevada City to be counted last on Election Night. The website for election results is: http://www.election.co.nevada.ca.us. Remember to click on “refresh” or “reload” on the toolbar at the top of your computer screen to ensure you are viewing the latest results.
During the three weeks after the election, we will conduct the official canvass. That’s when we verify the signatures on the absentee ballot envelopes turned in at the polls and count those ballots, and determine whether provisional ballots can be counted. We also hand-tally one percent of the ballots cast in each contest to double-check the accuracy of our computerized ballot counting equipment.
Please remember, voting is a privilege – so let’s make it a priority!
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