Nevada County supervisors to examine $258K increase for June 5 election
January 30, 2018
Nevada County's budget subcommittee intends to recommend the Board of Supervisors approve $258,000 in additional funds for the June 5 election — a change that, if approved, would send a vote-by-mail ballot to every registered county voter.
The proposal came after an over one-hour Tuesday meeting involving Supervisor Ed Scofield and Registrar of Voters Greg Diaz, the latter of whom last week asked for an additional $300,000 to implement the Voter's Choice Act.
That act, in addition to sending a vote-by-mail ballot to every registered county voter, also will eliminate voting precincts and replace them with a fewer number of vote centers that will remain open for several days. It'll additionally place ballot drop-off spots throughout the county.
Supervisors are scheduled to vote Feb. 13 on the funding, which would come from the general fund. A four-fifths vote is required.
About $600,000 already is budgeted for the June election. The $258,000 — a lower number partially because it's assumed everyone won't return their ballot, reducing postage costs — is additional.
"I don't think we were opposed to the Voter's Choice Act, as we were struggling with the budget," Scofield said.
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Diaz made his initial request at the supervisors' Jan. 23 meeting. He met resistance from some, including Scofield, who questioned why he waited until five months before the election to make the request. Diaz shot back that he'd held public meetings last year and sent his staff to supervisors months ago.
The vote failed 3-to-2 against to allocate the funds.
Both Scofield and Diaz called Tuesday's meeting, which was closed to the public, productive.
"There were questions, there were answers," Diaz said. "We came across a solution that I'm comfortable with and I hope the board's comfortable with."
Scofield said he learned that a lack of vote centers, where people can register to vote on election day under a new law, could cause problems. They can register at vote centers, because the additional funds will put advanced equipment at each center. That equipment isn't available at precincts, which would force people to register at the Eric Rood Administrative Center and potentially cause a backlog.
The new equipment also will enable vote centers to better scrutinize the voter rolls, ensuring that only people allowed to cast a ballot access the polls, Diaz said.
Any invalid ballots would be caught without the new equipment, though it would occur at the end of the tabulation process.
Diaz said he foresees problems with counties that don't have vote centers, because election day registration is now state law.
"It takes a while for the statutes to get embedded," Diaz said. "People are going to go to their precincts expecting to get service."
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.