Nevada County staff hustle to get ready for Election Day |

Nevada County staff hustle to get ready for Election Day

Nevada County Elections officials successfully fielded yet another ballot curveball over the weekend, clearing the way for a hopefully smooth operation of today’s general elections.

“There are a lot of moving parts in an election,” said Nevada County Registrar of Voters Gregory Diaz, referring to a technology glitch that left off the contested race for Nevada County Consolidated Fire District board on ballots for 139 people. “This blindsided us.”

After mobilizing staff late Friday and all day Saturday to contact all 139 voters and offer them alternative voting options, Diaz said the office staff was back to normal elections preparations Monday for the county’s 61,714 registered voters.

“We’re hoping Nevada County’s turnout to be 60 to 70 percent, well above the statewide average,” Diaz said. Statewide, predictions are for one of the lowest turnouts in a mid-term general election, coming on the heels of the June primary’s lowest turnout in any election in California history, Diaz said, adding, “Nevada County turnout is usually very good (for mid-term elections).”

As of midday Monday, almost half — or about 21,000 — of the 43,700 vote-by-mail ballots issued in the county had been returned, Diaz said.

Nevada County voters will decide today on Measure S, a revised medical marijuana cultivation initiative, two seats on Grass Valley City Council, three seats on the county Board of Education, a Nevada County Superior Court judgeship and a seat in U.S. Congress.

Voters will also weigh in on statewide propositions, the governor’s race, a handful of other state officials and a state Assembly seat.

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at polling places out in the community and at the county’s Rood Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City, Room 250.

If you have not yet returned a vote-by-mail ballot, you may drop it off at the box in front of the Rood Center until 8 p.m. today. You can also bring it to a polling place to vote in person.

If you’re not sure of your polling place location, contact the elections office at 530-265-1298, or look it up online at under “elections.”

New this year are 52 electronic poll books installed at polling places countywide.

The electronic poll books, purchased this year from San Diego-based Everyone Counts, are expected to make check-ins speedier and more accurate, and to help in redirecting voters who come to the wrong polling places to their correct locations.

Polling place staff will be able to immediately look up the correct polling place for each voter, without having to call in to the elections office.

“We had a test run in June,” Diaz said. “There was a noticeable difference in improved efficiency.”

As to the ballots that are missing the Consolidated fire board contested race, Diaz said he was alerted to the problem late Friday. The race is a contest between former firefighter-engineer Spencer Garrett Jr. and longtime fire station neighbor Linda Chaplin to fill the unexpired two-year term of former board member Ron Pennington, who resigned.

Elections office staff were able to contact 60 people with the flawed ballots by phone. The rest had information hand-delivered to their homes or emailed on Saturday, Diaz said.

Voters missing the Consolidated fire board contested race on their ballots were offered four options:

— They could vote in person at their polling place, Nevada County Horsemen’s Club, 10600 Bubbling Wells Road, Grass Valley.

— They could come to the county elections office to vote in person.

— They could have had a new, corrected ballot hand-delivered to their homes on Saturday.

— They could opt to just vote without the Consolidated fire board race on their ballots.

“We checked Friday with the (California) Secretary of State’s office (on the protocols).” Diaz said. “We got their blessing.”

Diaz said the glitch will be investigated by the county’s information technology and GIS mapping staff.

“We’re still trying to figure out how that happened,” he said.

The Union will be posting election results online at, starting after the polls close at 8 p.m. Print coverage will follow on Wednesday.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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