All eyes on ballot count
There was a whole lot of watching going on at the Nevada County Elections Office Tuesday – from both high and near places.
In a cramped and muggy ballot counting room, 16 observers looked on Tuesday afternoon as the deciding ballots in the all important District 3 supervisor’s race were run through the scanner.
Some sat with arms folded, some chatted in whispers, and others watchers jotted down numbers as Elections Office staff started counting, in precinct order, the absentee ballots turned in at the polls on Election Day.
At the end of the afternoon, 60 of the county’s 121 precincts were counted, and the remaining absentees ballots are scheduled to be tallied today.
Precincts 50 through 73 are in District 3, which encompasses the Grass Valley area.
Approximately 2,095 absentee ballots must be tabulated before the race in which challenger Drew Bedwell leads incumbent Bruce Conklin by a scant 24 votes is settled.
Initially, everyone was watching everyone, said Bedwell, of the two camps holed up in one room for hours to observe the canvass.
“Now we’re all watching the process,” he said. “The only thing that everyone wants is transparency and (Clerk-Recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick) has provided that.”
Seated in four rows of chairs in front of the counting table, the list of observers included backers from the Conklin and Bedwell camps, along with a representative from state Sen. Rico Oller’s office and the Steve Westly for State Controller campaign.
Watching the count for Westly was Mary Longmore of Grass Valley.
She said Westly’s representatives are observing voter canvasses across the state in a tight controller’s race in which about a million ballots remain to be counted statewide.
It’s all about power, said Bedwell of the District 3 supervisor’s race that could tip the balance on the county Board of Supervisors from liberal to conservative.
“There’s a lot at stake here, so people in high places are also concerned, along with the locals, because it’s such a high-stakes game,” Bedwell said. “It’s all about power and control.”
Jim Chatigny, the former Nevada Irrigation District general manager, observed the canvass Tuesday.
“I’m just interested to see the process,” Chatigny said. “The numbers will come out much latter, of course, but it’s interesting to see how it’s done.”
Chatigny said he thought the canvass was being conducted in a thorough and proper manner. “It’s important to do it right the first time so everyone can accept the outcome,” he said.
Conklin, who had supervisorial duties to attend to Tuesday, dropped in on the count just before 3:30 p.m., watched for a few minutes, then left.
The counting of the county1s remaining absentee ballots<precincts 61 through 121<are scheduled for completion today. The Elections Office will then issue an updated unofficial semi-final count, which will mark the end of the absentee-ballot counting process.
The Elections Office will continue the process of researching the approximate 280 provisional ballots cast by voters whose eligibility must be verified.
Polling place tallies will be updated next week.
Then the Elections Office will begin the hand-count of contests in which there were certified write-in candidates. This will be followed by the manual tally, a random hand count done in 1 percent of the county1s precincts to verify the accuracy of ballot scanners.
California law provides for an official 28-day canvass, beginning the second day after the election. By law, the canvass must be completed by Dec. 3.
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