County responds to allegations of bias during Nov. 2020 election

The County Clerk-Recorder’s office today released this statement:

The Nevada County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters has received increased questions and concerns around the elections observation process during the November 2020 election. In fact, one of our citizens has said, “Even right here in Nevada County, Republican poll watchers were denied entry and access to view the count on election night.”

Our office would like to address any confusion and ensure the public that our policies on election observation were administered uniformly.

Our office makes a concerted effort to operate in an open and transparent manner in order to inspire public confidence in the integrity of elections in Nevada County. For every election cycle, we invite interested members of the local community to observe elections processes in the legal and logistical context of safeguarding voting system security and preserving voter privacy.

During the election, our office provided all those who wanted to observe with strict guidelines on election observation. Those guidelines were based on state law, state elections and public health directives, and were created in collaboration with County Counsel. Observers were permitted to view any part of the process, no matter what their affiliation, as long as they followed the rules. Those rules were presented openly and transparently, and are still available on our website: https://www.mynevadacounty.com/3121/Guidance-for-Observers.

To summarize the guidelines: as long as observers signed in, agreed to a temperature check, wore masks that completely covered their nose and mouth, and remained in designated areas of our office, they were welcomed in. At times, our office may have imposed time limits if there were lots of requests at once, so that staff could adhere to COVID-19 protocols and give everyone a chance to observe.

Furthermore, the County set up cameras in the tabulation room, ballot rooms, and processing areas during the election, so anyone who was waiting who wanted to view in the hallway outside our office, board chambers, or on the County YouTube channel were free to do so. The Clerk-Recorder/Registrar did limit the ability for media to be in the back of our office in order to prioritize observers and help keep our staff healthy, as the office is quite small.

Only one observer was turned away from our office during the election. This person was turned away because they did not follow our guidelines on masks and refused to put a properly fitted mask on, even after staff explained the guidelines to them and to their organization, which is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3). All other observers complied with our rules and were welcomed into our office.

As of this date, no elected official or candidate on the November ballot has approached our office with any allegations of election fraud from this past election.

The Office of the Nevada County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters recognizes the important role that election observers play in the process and welcomed in observers during this November election and in past elections, in our office and in our vote centers, regardless of political affiliation.

Any questions around this matter may be directed to our office by calling 530-265-1298 or by emailing Elections.Mail@co.nevada.ca.us. Media may email Natalie.Adona@co.nevada.ca.us.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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