California demands compliance after voting rights’ groups warns about Shasta County election

By Jenavieve Hatch,
The Sacramento Bee,
October 31, 2023


California’s Secretary of State has told the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in a letter that it cannot hand-count ballots in its Nov. 7 special election.

In a letter sent Friday to the board and Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta’s registrar of voters, Secretary of State Shirley Weber said the county must comply with new legislation that bars the hand-counting of ballots. The letter was sent in response to one her office received just days earlier from a nonpartisan coalition of voting rights groups that voiced concerns about the safety and integrity of the vote.

Next week’s election will be the first in Shasta since the board voted to scrap its contract with Dominion Voting Systems made, in part, over unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 election. Three far-right board members — Patrick Jones, Chris Kelstrom, and Kevin Crye — have perpetuated the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, and that the safest way to tally ballots is to do so by hand, which studies show is false.

“My office has been informed that some members of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors have claimed that AB 969 limitations on a manual vote count ... are not applicable to Shasta County’s upcoming November 7, 2023, election,” she wrote.

“The claim is based on an unfounded theory that Shasta County is ‘grandfathered’ in and may still implement a hand count as the Board of Supervisors ‘made this decision before the legislature acted. Such a claim is wholly without merit and has no basis in law ... To be clear, Shasta County is subject to all provisions enacted and signed into law by AB 969.”

Weber said her office “stands ready to take any actions necessary to ensure that Shasta County conducts all elections in accordance with state law.” (Full Story)