Nevada County elections officials begin signature verification process for State of Jefferson vote |

Nevada County elections officials begin signature verification process for State of Jefferson vote

The clock began ticking last Thursday when State of Jefferson supporters submitted more than 5,000 signatures to the Nevada County elections office.

Elections officials have 30 days, excluding weekends and holidays, to verify the signatures and get the results to the Board of Supervisors. The board can then call for an election on the Jefferson issue.

Getting that issue on the June ballot is the goal of Jefferson advocates. They want voters to support the non-binding measure that would ask if Nevada County should separate from California and join the new state.

Before that vote can happen — and there’s no guarantee it’ll make the June primary — elections officials must verify the signatures Jefferson supporters handed over last week.

That verification process already has begun. Elections workers are separating the pages of signatures into various piles depending on how many names appear on each page. They’ll then label the pages and enter that information into their election management system, said Sandra Sjoberg, assistant county clerk-recorder/registrar of voters.

Separating the pages could be done by today. Verifying the signatures will take longer.

Once the computer system has the necessary information, it will print a report. That report is based on the number of pages and signatures on each page. Workers will then check 500 signatures randomly selected in the report against voter records, Sjoberg said.

“We’re verifying that the voter is at the address he or she says they’re at and that the signature matches,” she added.

Elections officials tally the signatures that match and those that don’t.

Jefferson advocates need only a certain percentage of signatures to match existing voter records to pass this bureaucratic hurdle; they can weather a few bad signatures and still pass muster.

Officials don’t know how many signatures are required.

That number is determined by a formula the election management system will run once it has the completed verification information, Sjoberg said.

If the local Jefferson movement has enough good signatures, then the process moves to the Board of Supervisors. However, there must be a 14-day public notice period before the board calls for an election on the issue.

Additionally, the board must call for that election no less than 88 days before the election.

That makes the March 8 regular meeting of the board the last chance it has to put the issue on the June ballot. Elections officials have until March 15 to verify the signatures.

That means elections officials must beat their deadline by at least three weeks for the question to make June’s election.

Any problems with the signature verification or meeting an accelerated deadline will push the Jefferson question to the November ballot.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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