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Some changes in store for voters in state’s March 5 primary election

Since you voted in the November 2000 election, the most recent census figures have been tallied, congressional, state and county districts have been realigned based on those census figures, and in the process your precinct may have changed.

In addition, the “open” primary that California voters approved in 1996, whereby all registered voters could vote for any candidate of any party, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court during the summer of 2000, declaring it a violation of a political party’s First Amendment right of association. So how is all this going to work come March 5? Let’s try to piece it together.



Congressional district changes: Nevada County, which has been in the 2nd Congressional District represented by Wally Herger, R-Marysville, was redistricted into the 4th Congressional District represented by John Doolittle, R-Rocklin. If you are registered in a California-recognized political party, when you vote on March 5 you will have the opportunity to vote for one of your party’s candidates for Congressional District 4. The winners of all parties will face off in the November general election, and the candidate with the most votes will represent Nevada County citizens beginning in January 2003.




State Senate district changes: Nevada County has been in State Senate District 1 which is represented by Rico Oller, R-San Andreas. Redistricting has resulted in Nevada County being split into two State Senate districts – 1 and 4. The boundary cuts through Cascade Shores separating neighbors into different districts. According to Nevada County clerk-recorder data, Penn Valley, Grass Valley, Nevada City, San Juan Ridge and Peardale will be in the 4th Senate District. Chicago Park stays in the 1st Senate District with Truckee and the rest of eastern Nevada County.

Voters elected the current State Senate District 1 representative in November 2000. State senators in even-numbered districts are elected in the year that the governor is elected. Senators in odd-numbered districts are elected in the year that the president is elected. Thus, registered voters in Senate District 4 will vote for their party’s candidates in the March 5 primary. The winner in the November election will begin representing us in January 2003.

State Assembly district: No changes have been made to the State Assembly District 3 which is represented by Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley – at least as far as Nevada County residents are concerned. All of Nevada County remains in that district and voters will be selecting candidates on March 5 for the final face off in November.

Nevada County supervisor districts: Last fall, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors accomplished the task of realigning supervisor districts to comply with redistricting requirements. If in doubt as to what district you are in be sure to check with the Nevada County Elections Office, 265-1298.

“Open” primary is now a “modified” closed primary: The “open” primary election was declared unconstitutional in 2000 by the U.S. Supreme Court and the “modified” closed primary took effect on Jan. 1, 2001. This is how it affects California voters in the March 5 primary: Voters who are registered to vote in a specific party will receive a ballot with a list of candidates for that party.

However, if you are registered to vote in a political party that is not recognized by the office of the California Secretary of State or you checked “Decline to State” on your registration application, then you are considered a nonpartisan voter. The state law that took effect at the beginning of last year allows political parties to permit nonpartisan voters to participate in their primary election. Four parties – American Independent, Democratic, Natural Law and Republican – allow nonpartisan voters to vote for their candidates. At the polls, or when requesting an absentee ballot, nonpartisan voters may request a ballot for one of those four parties. If the nonpartisan voter does not request one of the four ballots then that voter will be given a nonpartisan ballot, which lists only candidates for nonpartisan offices as well as ballot measures.

Precinct changes: Based on district realignments your precinct may have changed. It is important that you check the back of your sample ballot and find the address of your polling place.

Voter registration: The deadline for registering or re-registering to vote for the March 5 primary is Feb. 19. The law regarding the deadline for voter registration was changed from 29 days prior to an election to 15 days prior to an election. The intent is to motivate more eligible voters to register and to become engaged in the democratic process. But, according to the Clerk-Recorder/Elections Office, beware of registering late. Because of the short time span between the registration deadline and the election, those who register late, after Feb. 4 may not receive a Sample Ballot Booklet and State Voter Pamphlet. You may only receive a card confirming that you are registered to vote and listing your polling place address. Register or re-register to vote early!

Absentee ballots: As of the first of this year, any registered voter may apply to be a permanent absentee voter and receive a ballot by mail. This works as long as you vote in every statewide election. If you fail to vote in a statewide election, you will lose your absentee ballot status and must reapply to regain it. However, anyone may apply for an absentee ballot on an election-by-election basis by filling out the application on the back of the Sample Ballot and sending it in. For the March 5 primary, applications for absentee ballots must be received by the Elections Office no later than 5 p.m. Feb. 26.

Dottie Schmidt is voter service director of the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County.

Election forums

The public is invited to attend these election forums:

Tonight – Candidates for Nevada County Clerk-Recorder and Nevada City City Council. Place: Miners Foundry, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City Time: 8-10 pm. Sponsored by FCAT, KNCO, The Union and KVMR.

Thursday, Feb. 7 – Candidates for Congressional District 4; State Senate District 4; and Assembly District 3. Place: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main Street, Grass Valley. Time: 8-10 p.m. Sponsored by KVMR, KNCO, The Union and FCAT.

Saturday, Feb. 9 – Pros & Cons of the Ballot Measures. Place: Peace Lutheran Church, 825 W. Main Street, Grass Valley. Time: 10 a.m. Presented by League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County.

Thursday, Feb. 14 – Candidates for Nevada County District 4 Supervisor. Place: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main Street, Grass Valley. Time: 8-10 p.m. Sponsored by KNCO, KVMR, FCAT and The Union.

Thursday, Feb. 21 – Candidates for Nevada County District 3 Supervisor Place: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main Street, Grass Valley. Time: 8-10 p.m. Sponsored by The Union, FCAT(Ch. 11), KVMR and KNCO.


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