Upper counter: Clerk candidates discuss administrative processes and transparency

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Nevada County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Candidates Paul Gilbert, seated from left, Jason Tedder and Natalie Adona speak at a recent Western Nevada County League of Women Voters Forum held at the Administrative Center Eric Rood.
Photo by Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

You knew a question about voter fraud was coming.

The three candidates for Nevada County’s clerk-recorder/registrar of voters — Natalie Adona, Paul Gilbert and Jason Tedder — answered questions from the public and the media on Tuesday about transparency and the process.

And, of course, electoral fraud.



The June 7 election, which will include races like the Board of Supervisors for Districts 3 and 4, as well as Clerk-Recorder — comes about nine months after the governor’s recall and marks the first federal election since November 2020, including the results, among other factors, eventually led to rioters occupying the nation’s Capitol building.

Adona said the polarized mindset unable to come to terms with majority voting did not stem from process issues within the elections office.



“It’s about the diminishing faith in our democracy,” Adona said. “I compare democracy to a beautiful tapestry. It’s delicate and if you pull on a thread, it unravels.

Adona said the Registrar-Recorder sets the ethos through his professional, non-partisan attitude, as well as his understanding, knowledge and experience of the law.

When asked about his thoughts on the events of January 2021, Tedder said he was choosing “not to focus on the past.”

“I’m aware that there are a lot of (people) in my community and my country who feel cheated,” Tedder said. “It’s not worth going back and resurrecting what happened in the past. Honestly, I think politics should stay out of it. These things need to be as apolitical as possible. I believe in the rule of law. …I’m much more focused on what I can do for you in the future.

Gilbert said he was retired and enjoyed spending time working in his garden, until “one day someone said, ‘We have problems with the elections.’

“As a result, I opened up Citizen Business Auditors to help other citizens audit and investigate other elections,” said Gilbert, who called himself an entrepreneur-engineer.

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Gilbert said he became interested in the job after an interaction he had with Adona in September, saying she “refused to accept his paperwork”.

Adona said she had never seen data collated or compared the way Gilbert’s company chose to relay it in its report.

“It’s not like the data analysis I’ve seen in my years of research,” Adona said. “It’s like comparing two different things and wondering why there is a discrepancy.”

Adona is the current Deputy Clerk/Registrar of Electors.

Tedder said he has no experience in elected office and intends to learn a lot about the position while on the job.

Candidates must be at least 18 years old, registered to vote and reside in the county, Tedder said.

Tedder added that he had experience supervising “men, women, nationals of other countries”.

Tedder said he was able to learn on the job and get along with everyone.

MAIL-IN BALLOTS

Gilbert and Tedder both said they had doubts about mail-in ballots.

Adona said that before Nevada County passed the Voter Choice Act, “about 80 percent” of registered voters were already voting by mail.

“When they voted in 2019, 90% of people got a ballot,” Adona said, adding that she thinks the option is helpful for those who can’t show up in person, “especially , our constituents in the military overseas who have that right.

Gilbert said the fact that voters receive a ballot at home or can complete one in person — meaning they can access more than one at a time — allows for the possibility of fraud.

Gilbert said his professional experience with technology would help alleviate any trust issues with electronic voting machines.

He added that the time between when the ballot is dropped off at the post office and when it arrives at the place where it is counted is a vulnerable period in the electoral process.

Tedder said one improvement he would add to the process would be to have an assistant transport the ballots, as opposed to the postal service.

Rebecca O’Neil is an editor at The Union, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com

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