November 8, 2012 - Nevada County election officials were busy today counting more than 18,000 unprocessed ballots to add to the county's election-day tally of 31,275.
"It takes time because more than 16,000 of these ballots are mail ballots, plus nearly 2,000 provisional and damaged ballots, all of which must be carefully scrutinized by our ballot team," said Gail Smith, Assistant Registrar of Voters for the county.
"Our goal," she said, "is to assure that everyone who voted properly has his or her ballot counted correctly."
"I am extremely proud of the excellent service of our elections staff and the more than 340 volunteers who worked diligently on this election," said Registrar of Voters Gregory Diaz.
Diaz said balloting, processing and tabulating has gone nearly perfect thus far. "We have discovered just two anomalies in the tabulating process," he said. "At one precinct in Grass Valley, and another in Truckee, poll workers punched an incorrect button on a voting machine, resulting in a total of 69 provisional ballots mingling with regular ballots.
"We carefully processed the qualifications of the provisional voters and found that only three of the 20 in Grass Valley and 14 of the 49 in Truckee were not qualified to vote," Diaz said. "Because this small number of unqualified provisional votes — 17 in all — cannot possibly influence the outcome of any of the contests in which these votes were cast, I have determined that we will count all of these provisional ballots along with the regular ballots."
"The important principle here is that no one — not one single person — was denied the constitutional right to vote."
Many of the mail-in and provisional ballots came to the election headquarters in a late surge, explained Smith. "While we were able to process many of these ballots that came in early, it wasn't possible to verify the validity of all of them during the surge. But we are working hard to accomplish that task."
When all of the ballots are verified and tabulated, the total vote in Nevada County will be more than 49,000, or approximately 79 per cent of all registered voters. By way of comparison, in the 2008 election, 88 per cent of registered Nevada County voters cast ballots.
On Tuesday, Election Day, workers in the election office tabulated a total of 31,275 votes by 1 a.m. that night. Early next morning, the staff began the monumental task of going through numerous boxes of mail-in, damaged and provisional ballots that had accumulated, many on Election Day. Each voter's registration status must be confirmed by verifying the signature on the mail-in envelope and also assuring that the person didn't vote somewhere else as well. On provisional ballots, the staff must verify a set of requirements for each voter, including registration status and signature verification.
Processing each of the estimated 18,000 ballots will take several days, but Smith said the Diaz team will work as rapidly as possible while being extremely careful to process each ballot correctly.
"By law," Smith said, "we have until Dec. 4 to complete our tally and submit our final results to the Secretary of State. A week later, on Dec. 14, the Secretary of State must have certified the results of the election."
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