Gregory Diaz: Steady as we go for Presidential General Election in Nevada County
The phrase “Steady as we go” describes someone or something that is progressing in a stable manner. This aptly describes Nevada County Elections as we prepare to make voting in the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election easy and safe for all citizens in Nevada County lawfully ready and able to vote.
We have extensive experience in our county now as we prepare to launch an All-Mailed Ballot/Vote Center Election for the eighth consecutive time, utilizing ballot drop-off locations authorized by the 2016 California Voter’s Choice Act.
All registered voters will be mailed a ballot on Oct. 5, 2020 — 29 days before the election with a postage-paid envelope enclosed in which to return the ballot.
All ballots from properly registered voters will be tabulated accurately. Improperly cast ballots will be captured promptly through extensive anti-fraud measures introduced here in the county and throughout most states, including California.
Besides mailing their ballots, voters will have the option to drop off their ballots or vote in person at eight Vote Centers located across the county. At the Vote Centers voters will be able to update voter registration, use an accessible voting device, conditionally register to vote and cast a provisional ballot.
I strongly encourage voters to stay home and vote by mail in this election. It is the first General Election to be conducted during a dangerous pandemic of this magnitude. I also urge voters to put their completed ballots in the mail by Oct. 27, seven days prior to Election Day on Nov. 3. News reports indicate the postal service may be stretched to accommodate a large surge of mail-in ballots. Nevada County voters have a ready alternative: 18 election drop boxes located across the county.
There are similar drop boxes located throughout California; Nevada County voters may drop off their ballots in any drop box location anywhere in California. All ballots will be delivered to our office to be tabulated. We have no evidence of fraud in our extensive experience with all-mailed ballot elections. Nevada County election officials have received comprehensive training to protect the integrity of our elections and guard against abuses.
By definition, voter fraud includes voter impersonation, voters registering in multiple states and voting multiple times or voting when not qualified to do so under the law, such as noncitizens or, in some states, convicted felons. The key to voter fraud is intent. Fraud occurs only when someone knowingly breaks the rules.
The Heritage Foundation maintains an online database of voter fraud cases in the United States. Over the past 20 years, approximately 250 million votes have been cast by mail ballot nationally. The Heritage Foundation found 143 cases of fraud using mailed ballots that resulted in criminal convictions during those 20 years.
Let’s put that in perspective:
One hundred forty-three cases of fraud using mailed ballots over the course of 20 years means that across the 50 states, an average of three cases per state. One case per state every six or seven years. An occurrence that translates to about 0.00006 percent of all mail ballots cast. Which effectively argues against the case for widespread voter fraud.
For our elections, the security process begins when we build the ballot, right after we get the certified list of candidates from the California Secretary of State. We utilize a particular size, weight, type of paper and watermark for our ballots in each election. When the cast ballot comes to the Elections Office, the bar code on the outside of the return envelope along with the mail bar code that the post office can read are specific to the voter. Each voter must sign the return envelope and that signature must match the signature we have on file.
No wonder voter fraud is so rare when it comes to mail ballots. A bad actor would have to mimic everything perfectly from the ballot’s size, style, weight, envelopes, barcodes and signature of a registered voter, to name a few elements of our processes.
Critical Voter Information in Nevada County:
1. Vote Early: Ballots will be mailed out on Oct. 5. If you use the USPS to return your ballot, put the ballot in the mail no later than seven days prior to Election Day.
2. Use an Election Drop Box: We have 18 drop boxes around the county maintained by the Elections Office and we collect ballots from them regularly. Locations of all drop boxes will be announced soon. Voters may use any official drop box in California.
3. Sign up for BallotTrax: This service allows voters to get the status of their mailed ballot by automatic text or email. Learn more and sign up: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/wheres-my-ballot/
4. Alert the Elections Office if you do not receive your Ballot: We have a streamlined way for voters to pick up a replacement ballot if the need arises. Our office will publish guidance on how to safely request a replacement ballot in the coming days.
California has extended the deadline for mailed ballots for this election. Ballots signed, sealed, and postmarked on or before Nov. 3, 2020 (Election Day) will be counted if they are received in our office by Nov. 20, 2020.
Gregory J. Diaz is Nevada County Clerk/Recorder-Registrar of Voters.
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