Why Shasta County is at center of California voting, again

By Lynn LA,
CAL Matters,
October 30, 2023


Normally an election to set up a fire district and fill one school board seat in a county with just 112,000 registered voters wouldn’t get statewide attention. 

But the Nov. 7 election in Shasta County is far from normal and will be closely watched — including by the Secretary of State’s office. 

That county’s Board of Supervisors has been embroiled in a series of battles between its conservative and more moderate members — all of whom are Republican. In January, the board voted 3-2 to cancel its contract with Dominion Voting for ballot-counting machines, which were the focus of unproven allegations about election fraud. The cancellation has prompted outcry at board meetings and a recall effort against Supervisor Kevin Crye, who recall proponents say was the swing vote in the decision.

In response to the contract termination, the Legislature passed a bill — which went into effect as soon as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it on Oct. 4  — that limits hand-counting of votes to narrow circumstances, none of which apply to Shasta County’s upcoming election. The bill prohibits a manual vote count in regular elections with more than 1,000 registered voters, or special elections with more than 5,000 registered voters.  

And while early voting has been underway for the election since Oct. 9, some voter groups are raising the red flag that the county may not comply — and are urging Secretary of State Shirley Weber to enforce the law.

The letter — sent last week by six voting rights and good government groups, including California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California — notes that Shasta County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Patrick Henry Jones made “various public statements indicating an intention not to follow” the new law. The groups say that even if the county does comply, there is “a high risk of voter confusion, distrust, and disenfranchisement due to the spread of misinformation and disinformation.” Full Story"