Fight over voting machines

By Sameea Kamal,
Cal Matters,
February 28, 2023


Advocacy groups are urging Shasta County supervisors to reconsider their decision to end the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems, which provides equipment to mark and count ballots. The nonpartisan groups say the county’s termination without an alternative so close to the March 2024 presidential primary could have dire consequences on how the election is run and how accessible it is, and could further undermine voter confidence. 

Dominion’s voting machines became a target of election deniers following the 2020 election. A review by the federal cybersecurity intelligence agency found there were no instances of the machines being exploited for election fraud purposes. The company is also suing Fox News for $1.6 billion, alleging defamation in the network’s airing of false fraud claims following the election. 

Still, the Shasta County board — which was taken over by right-wing Republicans last year in a county that’s a California hotbed for the MAGA “Stop the Steal” movement — voted 3-2 to end the contract at its Jan. 24 meeting.

  • Mary Rickert, county supervisor and a “no” vote: “There has been no solid proof or evidence of voter fraud, and I am appalled at the waste of taxpayer dollars by discontinuing this system. It will cost over $2 million to replace this system, at a time when we have one level of our county jail closed.  These dollars could be better spent elsewhere.”
  • The advocacy groups, in their Feb. 23 letter: “Switching your county’s voting system so close to a major election could result in numerous otherwise avoidable errors and administrative problems that could, in turn, erode public trust in the county’s voting processes, undermining the stated intent behind the Board’s initial decision.” 

The groups also said a shift could impact voting accessibility for those with disabilities, in addition to the impact to the county’s budget. 

Dominion is one of a handful of approved voting machine systems certified by California’s Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office and county elections offices conduct in-depth testing on machines beginning months before elections. (Full Story, Item #3)