Ballots go into vault till count on Tuesday
The deciding ballots in the yet-undecided race for Nevada County’s District 3 supervisors were boxed, sealed, and put in a vault for safekeeping at the county Elections Office Friday while observers from both the Bruce Conklin and Drew Bedwell camps looked on.
In a race in which Bedwell leads the incumbent Conklin by a 24-vote margin, approximately 2,095 ballots remain to be tabulated before a winner can be declared. It is not known how many of those ballots are from the county’s District 3.
“We had observers there, and we’re satisfied that the Elections Office is following the proper process,” Conklin said. “We’ll be back there on Tuesday to observe whatever happens, whether it’s counting, sorting, or verifying.”
Bedwell, also observing on Friday, said, “They have a very methodical and thorough process – well-documented and practiced. I’m impressed, actually.”
He said his earlier skepticism about the ballot-counting process is now a non-issue: “I’m confident the ballots will be counted with integrity, and (County Clerk-Recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick) should get a gold star.”
The ballots in question include approximately 1,745 absentee, 285 provisional and 65 damaged ballots.
With a provisional ballot, the eligibility of the voter must be researched – for instance, a voter who is not on the printed roster of voters at a particular precinct. The voter is permitted to use a provisional ballot, which is sealed and not counted until an investigation of eligibility is completed.
On Friday morning, the Elections Office finished adding to the precinct-specific absentee ballot boxes all the ballots that had been turned in at the polls on Election Day, except for those that must be duplicated.
Jewett-Burdick explained that ballots marked in ink had to be duplicated in pencil so that they can be read by the vote-scanning machines. “There were up to 15 election observers witnessing these procedures throughout the day,” she said Friday.
After a day of rest on Monday for Veteran’s Day, the Elections Office staff will return Tuesday morning to duplicate ballots that were damaged either by either voters or by ballot scanners.
Also, Jewett-Burdick said, on Friday, Superior Court Judge John Darlington ruled that the Elections Office may count 18 of the 20 provisional ballots that were cast by voters who said they were “disenfranchised by a third party.”
The office will be ready to start running the remaining absentee ballots and provisional ballots through the scanners at 1 p.m. Tuesday, said Jewett-Burdick.
“Half of the county’s 121 precincts should be counted by Tuesday afternoon, and the remaining absentee ballots will be counted on Wednesday morning starting at 8 a.m.,” she said. “The Elections Office will issue an updated, unofficial, semi-final count Wednesday afternoon.”
The staff then will begin to finish the count of polling-place ballots, including researching provisional ballots, Jewett-Burdick said. “Also remaining to be completed will be the hand-count of the contests in which there were certified write-in candidates, and the 1 percent manual tally,” she said.
The manual tally is a hand-count done in 1 percent of precincts, randomly chosen, to verify the accuracy of the ballot scanners.
California law provides for an official 28-day canvass, beginning the second day after the election, she said. By law, the canvass must be done by Dec. 3.
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