Late votes can’t even be opened |

Late votes can’t even be opened

The 215 absentee ballots that arrived at the Nevada County Elections Office too late to be counted in the primary election will be stored for 22 months and then disposed of – shredded or liquefied – in compliance with state law.

End of story.

The late ballots cannot be opened, according to an opinion handed down Friday by Nevada County Counsel Charles McKee.

Upset that voters were disenfranchised by post office delays, county Clerk-Recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick requested McKee’s opinion on whether the county should pursue a court order to open and count the ballots.

“There’s no grounds for (Jewett-Burdick) to seek any remedy in the courts,” McKee said. “The ballots should remain sealed.”

The late delivery of absentee ballots by the postal service is not a one-time thing confined to the past primary and Nevada County, Jewett-Burdick said.

The Elections Office received 218 absentee ballots in the three weeks following the November 2000 election.

“This doesn’t just happen in Nevada County,” Jewett-Burdick said. “The truth is, this happens in counties across the state.”

Will the latest post office fiasco lead to a reduction in absentee voting?

“I think it will lead to a reduction in people procrastinating to send their ballots in early,” Jewett-Burdick said.

She said it’s a shame some voters were disenfranchised.

“But 111 voters mailed their ballots in on March 4,” the day before the election. “My vote is important to me – I wouldn’t wait ’til the last day,” she said.

Reminders to absentee voters to mail their ballots in early are placed on the absentee ballot application in the sample ballot booklet, on the envelope in which the ballots are mailed to voters, and on return envelopes provided by the Elections Office.

“So it’s up to voters to mail early,” Jewett-Burdick said.

Here are the numbers on the late absentee ballots from the Nevada County Clerk-Recorder. The list shows the date late ballots were mailed, what day they came in and how many arrived at each location.

Some mailed after the election<March 5 or later<weren1t counted in the original late absentee ballots.

March 5 postmark received March 6: Nevada City, six; North San Juan, one; Grass Valley, five.

March 5 postmark received March 7: Truckee, seven.

March 4 postmark received March 6: Lake of the Pines, 25; Grass Valley, 44; Truckee, three; Nevada City outskirts, three; Penn Valley, three.

March 4 postmark received March 7: Nevada City, one; Grass Valley, one; Truckee, eight.

March 2 postmark received March 6: Penn Valley, 15; Grass Valley, 31; Nevada City outskirts, 29; Nevada City, four; Lake of the Pines, four; Rough and Ready, two; Truckee, one.

March 2 postmark received March 7: Truckee, one.

March 2 postmark, received March 11, Texas, one.

March 1 postmark received March 6: Lake of the Pines, two; Nevada City outskirts, one; Penn Valley, one; and Grass Valley, one.

Feb. 28 postmark received March 6: Grass Valley, four; Truckee, two; Lake of the Pines, two.

Feb. 25 postmark received March 6: Thailand, one; military, one.

One postmark unknown, mailed from Guam.

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