Election denial in California

By Lara Korte and Dustin Gardiner,
July 21, 2023


Election doubts have taken root in a very real way in Shasta County, 200 miles north of Sacramento, where a vote this year by far-right supervisors has election officials on edge about how to conduct upcoming vote counts.

The county, which for years used Dominion voting systems to tabulate the ballots of its more than 100,000 registered voters, is now going to rely on humans to hand-count the tens of thousands of pieces of paper. It’s a move that was encouraged by pro-Trump conspiracy mongers, including MyPillow exec Mike Lindell. It could make the count harder to verify and end up costing the small, rural county millions of dollars over several years.

“It’s more prone to error, and it’s also prone to fraud and interference,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “The more people involved in handling ballots, the more risk there is that somebody is going to be able to mark a ballot.”

To comply with California’s election rules, Shasta County will need 1,300 people to count votes in November 2024, according to a preliminary estimate from Cathy Darling Allen, the county clerk and registrar of voters and board chair of the voter foundation.

“It’s a dramatically different operation, a dramatically different focus and a dramatically different amount of staff and time required,” she said. “Whether we can meet reporting deadlines hand-tabulating the presidential general elections — I have serious doubts about the feasibility of that.”

This doesn’t happen anywhere else in California as of now. Secretary of State Shirley Weber is in the process of creating regulations around the uncommon process, which could include requiring an electronic voting system to verify the results of the hand count — something that Shasta is prepared to do, according to Allen.

The Legislature has also taken note. Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, a Democrat who spent more than 25 years as the chief elections official in Santa Cruz County, is carrying a bill to prohibit hand-counting paper ballots in any county with more than 1,000 registered voters. (Full Story)