Q & A with Gregory J. Diaz

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Voting safely from home is nothing new to Nevada County. In 2018, Nevada County adopted the Voters’ Choice Act, which gives voters greater flexibility and convenience. Every registered voter receives their ballot by mail. voters have the option to vote at our multi-day vote centers and can drop off their ballot at any one of our twenty-two (22) ballot drop boxes. With over 90% of voters returning their ballot by mail or dropped in one of our secure drop boxes, we've never looked back.

When will ballots be mailed?
MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2020. Voters should expect to receive their ballot on or around October 8th or 9th.
How will I know the Elections Department got my ballot?
You've probably heard quite a bit about the US Postal Service lately and we understand your concerns. The Secretary of State is offering a new ballot tracking system. Where's My Ballot? Voters can easily track their ballot from the time it's mailed to our office.  Signup at wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov 
What are my options for returning my ballot?
There are a variety of ways to return your ballot to us. Voters may mail their voted ballot using the postage paid return vote by mail envelope. Voters can also return their voted ballot in person to our office 950 Maidu Ave. Suite 210 Nevada City CA, or drop it in any of our secure ballot drop boxes or vote centers located throughout Nevada County. For a complete list of vote centers and drop boxes visit mynevadacounty.com/elections

As we prepare for the Presidential General Election, be assured, Nevada County Elections will offer safe, clean environments for employees, election workers and volunteers, voters and election observers. We are working to ensure that the November 3, 2020 General Election is conducted during the current COVID-19 pandemic without creating new health risks. 

Can I still vote in person?
Yes! You can easily and safely vote at any one of vote centers. Most vote centers will open on Halloween, October 31, 2020 through Election Day. Vote Center hours are from 8 AM-5 PM. On Election Day (November 3, 2020), all vote centers are open from
7 AM-8 PM. For a list of current vote centers, visit mynevadacounty.com/elections.
Can I feel safe at a vote center?
Nevada County election officials will take all possible steps to ensure the safety of workers and voters. Key prevention practices for election workers include:  

 • Physical distancing to the maximum extent possible
 • Use of face coverings by all participants in the election process
 • Frequent hand washing
 • Regular cleaning and disinfection
 • Training workers on these and other elements of our COVID-19 prevention plan and protective equipment use
 • Refraining from going to work when ill

Our supplement to the 2020 Election Administration Plan entitled “Contingency Plan for Infectious Disease and Pandemics” can be found at mynevadacounty.com/3085/Contingency-Plan-for-Infectious-Disease.
Have the vote centers moved?
We have changed five of our eight vote centers to allow for proper social distancing for in-person transactions. In Western County, new vote centers will be at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, Sierra College Gymnasium, and the Bear River High School Gymnasium. The Gold Miners Inn in Grass Valley and the Rood Center in Nevada City are also vote centers in Western County opening on Halloween thru Election Day. 

In Eastern County, vote centers are located at the Town of Truckee Public Works on Stevens Lane and at the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Gymnasium. On Election Day, we also operate a vote center at the North San Juan Community Center on
State Hwy. 49.

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 that the postal service may be stretched to accommodate a large surge of mail-in ballots. Nevada County voters have a ready alternative: 22 election drop boxes located across the county. 

What happens to my ballot after I place it in a drop box? Does it go to the post office?
Nevada County Election Officials, working in teams of two, retrieve ballots from the county-owned drop boxes at regular intervals beginning October 5, 2020. Chain of Custody forms are completed and ballots are taken to the Rood Center for processing and tabulation. These ballots do not go to the USPS. 
What do I do if the post office doesn't deliver my ballot? How long should I wait to request a new ballot?
Ballots are being mailed to all Nevada County registered voters on October 5, 2020. If you have not received your ballot by October 12, 2020, please contact Nevada County Elections. You may call or email the office. Our phone number is 530-265-1298. Our email address is elections.mail@co.nevada.ca.us.  
How does the Elections Office verify if someone is a Nevada County resident? 
A United States citizen can register and vote in California if they are at least 18 years of age and a resident of California, not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony, and not currently found to be mentally incompetent to vote by a court. (Elec. Code 321, 2101, 2208, 2212) In fact, any person naturalized after the 15th day prior to an election can go to the office of their county elections official with proof of residence and citizenship, and register and vote. The Elections Code requires you to register to vote using the address of your domicile in the county in which you reside. "Domicile" is defined as the place where you live, where your habitation is fixed, and where you intend to remain and return to whenever you are absent from it (Elec. Code 321, 349, 2020-2034) In Nevada County, each and every address submitted to us is verified by our Election Management System. We also send a Voter Notification Card to the voter. If an address is not recognized, the voter is placed in our inactive file and will not receive a ballot until the voter's address has been confirmed.   
Is our voting system secure?
Nevada County uses the Hart Verity System and our system is in no way linked to the Internet. We employ two-factor authentication and only known and limited personnel work with the voting devices and software. Pursuant to our use procedures, we always have at least two (2) people working at the same time. Our voting system is both federally and state certified. We always run logic and accuracy testing with every ballot type on the election database before every live election. Our system has thorough audit logs showing who, did what, when. All our voting devices run in kiosk mode and all a qualified person can do on them is to vote. Our ballot scanners do not tabulate. We have tamper-proof security seals and chain-of-custody equipment procedures in place and a user cannot run an outside program on any voting device. Our voting system is secure.
Are Nevada County Elections protected from cybersecurity threats?
The Nevada County website does not touch our election systems. By law, elections systems are not connected to the internet. (Elec. Code 19205) Copies of local results are posted both to our website and sent to the California Secretary of State. The original results are stored and tabulated on isolated, dedicated systems that are not exposed to cyberattacks. Nevada County has a comprehensive cybersecurity program and team of analysts in place. Systems are in place to monitor and provide insight into malicious activities. Staff coordinates with federal and state agencies and follow best practices and recommendations as identified.
Will there be security at vote centers?
Nevada County election officials will be present at all vote centers from October 31, 2020 thru Election Day which is November 3, 2020. Our election officials will be provided with additional training and procedures to handle incidents involving disruption and/or voter intimidation at our office and at our vote centers. Most incidents can be effectively diffused and de-escalated with a calm demeanor and approach that advises persons you will be able to vote and they are engaged in prohibited activity that violates state law. Our office has had conversations with local law enforcement and the County Sheriff to ensure readiness.

It is a felony for any person to possess a firearm at a voting location or in the immediate vicinity of a voting location. Similarly, it is illegal for any uniformed peace officer, private guard, or security personnel or any person who is wearing a uniform of a peace officer, guard, or security personnel from being stationed at or in the immediate vicinity of a voting location. (Elec. Code 18544)

I did not register by October 19, 2020. Can I still vote?
Yes! Please come to the Early Voting site at the Rood Center between 8 to 5 on weekdays or one of our Vote Centers commencing on Halloween thru Election Day between 8 to 5, and you can receive a Conditional Voter Registration, aka ‘Same Day Registration’ and ballot to fill out and vote.
We always have provisional ballots which slow down the vote count, right?
Starting in 2018, Nevada County has administered elections under the California Voter’s Choice Act, hereafter “VCA”. Every active, registered Nevada County Voter has been mailed a ballot and beginning October 31, 2020, we will establish eight (8) vote centers designed for in-person transactions including obtaining a replacement ballot or arrange for conditional same-day registration. There are only four scenarios whereby we will issue a provisional ballot. First, if we have no power (all vote centers have backup generation). Second, if a voter chooses to vote twice (our system will inform us). Third, if an individual is not registered and refuses a conditional voter registration, we will issue a provisional ballot. Fourth, if an individual has an out of county address (no Nevada County address), we issue the individual a provisional ballot.

Under our VCA model, on average, we issue less than twenty (20) provisional ballots per election. We issued 1876 provisional ballots when we conducted our final polling place election in November 2016. Provisional ballots will not slow down the vote count in 2020.

How can we verify information we find to be suspicious?
If you are skeptical about any information you read or hear, please call our office at (530) 265-1298. Also, call our office right away. Research indicates misinformation and disinformation campaigns are targeting six areas of concern that may influence voters. They are: (1) false details about voter identification needs spreading online; (2) polling place congestion leading to voters turned away; (3) false claims that political groups are stealing the election; (4) spreading false ideas that election officials are corrupt; (5) making claims about polling place closures as a result of COVID-19; and (6) spreading false claims about judicial efforts to delay the election. Please call Nevada County Elections at (530) 265-1298 if you have any questions. Thank You!