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Gregory Diaz: Voting in times of uncertainty

Other Voices
Gregory J. Diaz

Throughout the course of history, leaders have often found it difficult to balance administrative needs with the rights of the people. Some leaders have been reluctant to protect personal rights and liberties during times of crisis, or national emergencies. The duty to strike the proper balance is an ongoing tension within governmental agencies, one that can be complicated by the politics of the day, misinformation — even fear.

In this unprecedented moment in time, the Nevada County Elections Office is committed to continue to provide excellent service to our citizens, do so safely and with integrity. This includes but not limited to protecting the right to vote. We view the need to protect public health and voter rights as mutually inclusive. We fail in our duty if we do not treat them with equal priority. Safety and the preservation of all rights are essential to maintaining a healthy democracy. Those rights include voting.

To address the challenges of this historic time, we are establishing the basic framework for Nevada County to safely conduct the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election. At this early date, we are drafting a supplement to our Election Administration Plan, in order to provide voters with advance notice of the kinds of changes that may be necessary. We will work with county health officials on our plan and will publicly roll out the plan soon.

I am aware that the required responses to the COVID-19 health crisis, should they interfere in any way with elections processes in November, must also consider the possibility of prolonged power outages due to Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. Our basic framework will take this possibility into account. We welcome any suggestions from the public about the intersection of COVID-19 and PSPS events.

We view the need to protect public health and voter rights as mutually inclusive. We fail in our duty if we do not treat them with equal priority.

Between now and the November General Election, I and my staff know circumstances will evolve rapidly. We are expert at what we do and are optimistic that we will be able to serve the voters of Nevada County efficiently and safely. But we also acknowledge that COVID-19 presents new territory for all of us. We will approach the coming weeks and months with an appropriate mixture of confidence and humility.

We understand that, in times of uncertainty, everyone is under a considerable amount of stress. We will make sure you are well informed of any changes in election plans as we draw upon every resource to ensure that voting is safe and secure.

Our pledge: to provide you with everything you need to exercise your right to vote.

Natalie Adona, our assistant registrar, is leading this effort. Natalie can be reached at natalie.adona@co.nevada.ca.us. Messages and feedback can always be sent to elections.mail@co.nevada.ca.us.

Gregory J. Diaz is Nevada County Registrar of Voters.


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