Nevada County among highest in voter turnout for March primary election |

Nevada County among highest in voter turnout for March primary election

Victoria Penate
Staff Writer

In last month’s presidential primary election, Nevada County achieved one of the highest percentages of voter turnout in California.

According to official reports, about 67% of Nevada County’s registered voters cast a ballot in the 2020 primary election. Relative to all other counties in California, this was the third-highest voter turnout by percentage, surpassed only by Inyo and Marin counties, 68% and 69%, respectively.

Statewide, 46% of voters cast a ballot.

Nevada County has certified its election. The state has until April 24 to certify.

Since 2018, Nevada County has opted into the Voter’s Choice Act, distributing mail-in ballots to all registered voters as well as expanding available options for mail-in, drop-off, and in-person voting. Janice Bedayn, president of the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, cites the county’s implementation of this protocol as one of several factors which contributed to its relatively high voter turnout.

“This is the second time that we’ve done Voter’s Choice,” said Bedayn. “What mail-in ballots do is they make voting easier and they encourage higher turnout.”

In addition, Bedayn credits other key characteristics of Nevada County’s communities as contributing factors to political engagement.

“Nevada County is a sophisticated county, and it has passionate people on all levels of the political spectrum,” said Bedayn. “The other thing is that we have a large retirement community, and it’s clear that older people tend to vote in large numbers, so that’s a big plus.”

During the past decade, Nevada County has experienced growth in its voter turnout during presidential primary elections. Compared to the 2012 figure of about 51%, the 2016 primary election saw 68% participation from Nevada County voters.

According to Natalie Adona, assistant clerk-recorder/registrar of voters for Nevada County, this development could be due to a variety of factors — ranging from California’s “very welcoming registration process” to the “unusually high interest in civic participation” seen since 2017.

“Nevada County’s registered voters have increased over the years,” Adona said, adding that the county has a “strong culture of political engagement and participation.”

“Whatever factors are driving turnout in Nevada County, I encourage our voters to keep it up,” Adona said. “For those who aren’t voters yet, we hope to welcome them into the process soon.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union.

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