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Understand how system works, then go vote

Nevada County hasn’t seen an election like this one in years. I’m not referring to the campaign rhetoric among candidates. That’s nothing new. I’m talking about the sheer number of election contests, candidates and measures on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

State races (governor, controller, etc.) fill the front side of the first ballot card, and local contests fill the back. Countywide measures C and D plus seven statewide propositions fill the front side of the second ballot card.

Please review your sample ballot booklet carefully because it contains volumes of information about candidates and measures. Mark your choices on the sample ballot at the front of the booklet and take it with you to the polls. That preparation can make the difference between needing a few minutes or up to 20 minutes to cast your ballot. Unless voters plan ahead, there may be long lines at polling places on Election Day.



Just as it will take voters more time to vote their ballots, it will take the Elections Office longer to count those ballots – potentially twice as long as usual since we will have twice as many ballots. We may not have final, unofficial results until midnight.

Here are some other election notes that may be of interest:




Complex election: We enjoy a representational government. You elect the people who represent and govern you. You vote on the issues that affect you. That’s why you must vote at your assigned polling place, which is based on where you live. Only your assigned polling place will have the ballots containing the candidates and measures on which you are eligible to vote.

The ballots change, depending on where a voter lives in the dozens of different overlapping cities or school, water, fire protection and park districts. For the Nov. 5 General Election, Nevada County has 94 different types of ballots – the most we’ve ever had. Administering an election with 94 different types of ballots is incredibly complex. Pollworkers must double-check the roster of voters to ensure each voter receives the correct ballot type. Plus we must be certain to distribute the second ballot card to every voter.

We have extremely dedicated personnel at the Elections Office and at the polls, but please be patient if we take a few extra moments to ensure we do our jobs correctly.

Absentee ballots: Your application for an absentee ballot – and an option to become a permanent absentee voter – is printed on the back page of your sample ballot booklet. The Elections Office receives stacks of absentee ballot applications every morning in the mail during the weeks before an election. We process those applications immediately, and the voter’s ballot goes out in the mail that afternoon.

Please vote your absentee ballot as soon as you’ve studied your sample ballot booklet and feel you can make informed decisions. It is important that you allow adequate time for the post office to deliver your absentee ballot by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

I had several meetings with local and regional postal officials over the summer, working to ensure that the problem of delayed ballot delivery that plagued the March 5 primary election will not recur. Among other remedies, postal officials agreed they would no longer tout “one-day mail delivery” in western Nevada County. They realize more mail is delivered during the weeks before an election than before major holidays. At Christmas time, there is a date by which you should mail your package if you want it to arrive on time. The same holds true for elections. For the Nov. 5 election, you should mail your absentee ballot no later than Friday, Nov. 1, to ensure timely delivery at the Elections Office.

You may also deliver your voted absentee ballot to any Nevada County polling place on Election Day before 8 p.m.

Political signs: The Elections Office receives complaints about campaign signs every election season, even though we have no authority in this area. If you have a complaint about a campaign sign that you believe is placed illegally on public property, contact one of the cities’ public works department or the county’s code enforcement department. Those agencies have oversight over campaign signs in their respective jurisdictions. Signs on telephone poles and signs erected in Caltrans’ right-of-ways are prohibited.

Your right to vote: It’s your most precious right, so please vote in the Nov. 5 general election. Remember: If you don’t exercise your right to vote, you have no right to complain.

Lorraine Jewett-Burdick is the Nevada County clerk-recorder.


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