California Secretary of State finalizing voting regulations aimed at Shasta County | Roman Battaglia/Jefferson Public Radio

Shasta County in Northern California has become the first and only county in the state to switch back to hand-counting ballots in elections, prompting the need for specific procedures to be outlined. California has not hand-counted every ballot for decades, so rules must be established to ensure accuracy and prevent tampering. The new regulations require a machine recount to verify any discrepancies from the hand-counting process. Shasta County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen anticipates challenges in recruiting enough temporary staff and finding sufficient space for counting and storage. A plan needs to be prepared and approved in time for the upcoming November election. Read Article

California: Shasta County supervisor renews unproven claims of 2020 election fraud | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County Supervisor Patrick Jones, who orchestrated the decision to terminate the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems and return to manual vote counting, claimed fraud occurred in his own 2020 election race, despite winning by a significant margin. Jones referenced the Mesa, Colorado, “pattern of fraud” coined by Jeffrey O’Donnell, a promoter of election conspiracy theories. Jones announced plans to hold a town hall meeting on hand-counting ballots, where he intends to invite speakers who have propagated false theories on voting machines and a rigged election system. Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen expressed skepticism about the purpose of the town hall, stating that California already has set parameters and processes for hand counting, and upcoming hand-count regulations are expected to be published by the California Secretary of State. The county has allocated over $1.5 million to develop a hand-count system pending state certification. Read Article

California counties don’t use unpaid election workers, despite despite claims made in Shasta County | David Benda Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County Supervisor Patrick Jones believes the debate over whether volunteers can help count ballots in local elections is not yet settled. Despite the advice of the county Registrar of Voters and County Counsel that workers must be paid according to California election codes, Jones points to a letter from a conservative attorney stating that 15 California counties allow unpaid volunteers. However, an investigation by the Record Searchlight found that the counties mentioned in the letter do not use unpaid volunteers for counting ballots; instead, they employ poll workers who receive stipends. Critics argue that the estimates of increased costs for hand counting provided by the registrar are not inflated, and using volunteers may compromise the security and chain of command of the election process. Read Article

California: Public tirades, recall threats as Shasta County roils from decision to dump voting machines | Jessica Garrison/Los Angeles Times

Weeks after deciding to dump Dominion Voting Systems and become the largest government entity in the U.S. to hand-count its votes, Shasta County officials are now grappling with the complex logistics of actually carrying out that approach, accurately and legally, in a county of 200,000 people. In a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday spiced with angry personal attacks — and during which Supervisor Kevin Crye was served with recall papers on the dais mid-session— county staff told board members that hand-counting ballots could cost an additional $3 million over two years. The board ultimately voted to fund seven more staff positions to carry out the effort, even as flabbergasted citizens in the audience bemoaned what they said were absurd new expenses for a county struggling to provide healthcare and homeless services. The board’s decision earlier this year to sever the county’s long-standing relationship with Dominion, one of the largest suppliers of voting machines and software in the U.S, has garnered national attention as an example of the chaos wrought by unfounded claims of voter fraud pushed by former President Trump and his allies after his failed 2020 reelection bid. Last week, Fox News agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit the company filed accusing the network of knowingly promoting false claims that its voting machines had been used to manipulate election results. As part of that settlement, Fox issued a statement acknowledging “certain claims” made on its programming about Dominion were false.

Full Article: Shasta County roils after its decision to dump voting machines – Los Angeles Times

California: Shasta County decision to drop Dominion voting machines prompts state bill | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

An Assembly bill making its way through the California Legislature in Sacramento draws its inspiration from Shasta County’s abrupt and controversial decision in January to prematurely end its contract with Dominion Voting Systems. “It was pretty shocking to see a county board of supervisors terminate a voting contract without any option with how to move forward with another system,” Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin, a Democrat, told the Record Searchlight. Introduced on Feb. 14, Pellerin’s Assembly Bill 969 would require a county board of supervisors to have both a transition plan and a replacement contract with a state-certified system in place before terminating an existing voting system contract. Pellerin introduced the bill about three weeks after Shasta Supervisors voted 3-2 to terminate their contract with Dominion without a state certified and federally qualified voting system in place, ignoring the advice of Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen and then-County Counsel Rubin Cruse Jr. The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials support the bill. Pellerin’s bill is now headed to the Senate after passing the Assembly.

Full Article: Shasta County decision to drop Dominion voting machines prompts state bill

California: Shasta County votes to spend millions manually counting ballots — and not all voters are happy | Jenavieve Hatch/The Sacramento Bee

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to allocate millions of taxpayer dollars to pay for seven new employees who will assist in the county’s switch to manual ballot tallying. But the man behind the switch is paying a large price, too. Conservative Supervisor Kevin Crye, who has perpetuated the claim that Dominion Voting Systems rigged the 2020 election in favor of President Joe Biden, was served recall papers at the board meeting. In March, Shasta became the first county in California to pivot to a manual tally. The county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems ended in January, and after right-wing news outlets and commentators spread the falsehood that the machines were rigged, board members decided not to renew it; instead of replacing it with different machines, they opted for the controversial decision to count ballots by hand at great expense. Chief fiscal officer Erin Bertain warned the board on Tuesday that the decision to hand count votes could cost the county at least $3 million through the 2024-2025 fiscal year, because the county will likely need to hire 1,500 ballot counters for the 2024 election. There are nearly 112,000 registered voters in Shasta County; in the last presidential election, 94,084 people turned out to vote.

Source: Shasta County Republican supervisors vote for manual tally | The Sacramento Bee

California: Shasta County’s cost to hand count votes expected to pass $1.5 million | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Costs continue to mount for Shasta County to do a full hand count of ballots in future elections. It’s now expected to exceed $1.5 million — about three times more than if the county would have kept its contract with Dominion Voting Systems and continued with electronic ballot tabulations. And the price tag will probably go up more as county election officials continue to work on the number of ballot counters and poll workers that will be needed to do a secure hand count. After they approved earlier this month spending $950,000 on equipment needed to hand-count ballots, supervisors on Tuesday will be asked to adopt a salary resolution that adds five positions in the elections department and two in support services. In a report to supervisors, the estimated annual cost for the seven positions is $600,962, which includes benefits. Most of that money will come from the county’s general fund with the balance coming from agencies that the county bills for each election.

Full Article: Shasta County’s cost to hand count votes expected to pass $1.5 million

California: How Shasta County Became A Petri Dish For the Big Lie | Kaila Philo/TPM

A deep red enclave in rural Northern California has recently seen the balance of its local governing body shift to the far right. Now it’s about to embark on an experiment tried in few other jurisdictions across the country: counting all of its paper ballots by hand. The county clerk warned TPM that the switch could be more problematic than the hard-right majority could have anticipated. The Board of Supervisors in Shasta County, California, has served as a petri dish for the most noxious refuse of Trumpism over the past few years. From COVID-19 denialism to conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems, a handful of county board members have used their positions to breathe life into Trumpian conspiracy theories and grievances at the local level, pulling in MyPillow CEO and noted Trump brown-noser Mike Lindell along the way.  It started on Aug. 11, 2020, when a local militia member Carlos Zapata hijacked a board meeting to go on a rant against COVID-19 restrictions, and threatened violence if they continued. “Right now, we’re being peaceful, and you better be happy that we’re good citizens, that we’re peaceful citizens,” he said, “but it’s not going to be peaceful much longer, OK?” His rant, which subsequently got attention from Alex Jones and Fox News, portended the near future: Less than a year later, a local anti-government militia led an effort to recall county supervisors who followed mitigation measures—and ultimately succeeded in ousting one of them.

Full Article: How A Rural California County Became A Petri Dish For the Big Lie

California: With more costs to come, Shasta County will spend $950,000 on new voting system after hand count approval | Damon Arthur/Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County officials on Thursday approved spending $950,000 to hire a company to provide the equipment needed to hand-count ballots, something that hasn’t been done in California in decades, at least not on the scale proposed in the county. The Board of Supervisors’ action comes even as elections officials try to develop a process that does away with machine counting and instead manually tallies ballots. County officials are also trying to figure out all of the costs associated with converting from machine counting. The board’s vote was driven by the majority of supervisors’ distrust of the vote counting machines it was using, Dominion Voting Systems. But over the past few months a large number of people also urged the board to stick with Dominion, rather than hand counting. Public comment before Thursday’s board vote reflected the divide in the community over hand-counting versus machine tabulation. Joann Roskoski, past president of the League of Women Voters in Shasta County, criticized the supervisors for adopting hand counting without knowing all of the costs involved. “We don’t even know if it can be done. But for sure, the money you’re looking at today is the tip of the iceberg. That money is going to get larger and larger and larger. And I agree with the last speaker that not having come up with a plan before you set sail on the Titanic was a big mistake,” Roskoski said.

Full Article: Shasta Co. spends $950K on new voting system after hand count approval

California: Shasta County finally picks voting system, rescinds CEO job offer | Roman Battaglia/Jefferson Public Radio

After months of confusion about how Shasta County will conduct its elections, county supervisors approved a new company to provide their voting equipment on Thursday. That’s in addition to an effort to hand-count ballots. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pick Hart Intercivic as their new provider of voting equipment in the county. That’s after the board canceled their contract with Dominion Voting Systems in January, based on unproven claims of election fraud. The decision made Shasta the first county in California to drop Dominion. The county is required to have a vendor to provide voting accessibility, but their larger plan is to count all of the ballots by hand. No other county in California counts ballots this way. During Thursday’s meeting, Supervisor Mary Rickert said that hand-counting is both expensive and a waste of resources. “I feel like you’re almost, kind-of setting up the elections office to fail,” she said. Elections department staff say that state rules that are currently under development about hand-counting would require they still scan ballots before counting them to deter fraud. The board approved an initial $800,000 dollars on Thursday for the Hart Intercivic system. They haven’t figured out how it will affect the county’s budget. More funding will be needed to pay for the costs of hand-counting.

Full Article: Shasta finally picks voting system, rescinds CEO job offer | Jefferson Public Radio

California: Shasta County’s quest to replace Dominion turns ‘very dark’ | Eric Ting/ SFGATE

After Shasta County ended its contract with Dominion Voting Systems over election fraud conspiracy theories, there were two options county leaders considered: 1) Enter an agreement with a different electronic voting system certified by the state of California, or 2) Attempt to count all ballots by hand  — which would come at a very steep cost and risk falling out of compliance with state law — and apparently hope that My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell pays the legal fees stemming from any possible lawsuits. Guess which option the five-person board — now led by a conservative supermajority — chose. “The whole thing is just hard to absorb and I’m in a little bit of shock,” county elections chief Cathy Darling Allen told SFGATE on Tuesday evening, after the board voted 3-2 to hand-count all ballots. The vote came at the tail end of a laborious nine-hour meeting. “It’s pretty clear the supervisors don’t quite understand what they’ve undertaken,” Allen said.

Full Article: Shasta County’s quest to replace Dominion turns ‘very dark’

California: Shasta elections official: County likely needs 1,300 workers to hand count votes; ‘even we cannot perform miracles’ | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Opting to manually count ballots in an election could set Shasta County back more than $1.6 million and would require hiring 1,300 workers to help with the tally and renting a facility that’s large enough to carry out the work securely. That’s the determination from county Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen who late Monday night released a 26-page analysis on hand-counting in which she urges leaders to reject a system that has not been tested anywhere in California. The report, which is accompanied by a three-page letter addressed to the Board of Supervisors, dropped just hours before members are scheduled to decide what future elections will be like in the county. Supervisors will consider on Tuesday Chair Patrick Jones’ push for counting votes by hand as well as a voting system that also allows for at least two races to be manually counted. Darling Allen is calling on the supervisors to either reinstate the contract with Dominion Voting Systems or approve a contract for new voting machines. To do otherwise could put the county at risk of not being able to conduct elections within the mandated timelines and result in voter disenfranchisement, potential litigation and erosion of confidence in local elections, she said.

Full Article: Shasta County elections official warns against counting votes by hand

Missouri is not hand-counting votes, despite California county supervisor’s claim | David Benda Redding/Record Searchlight

Supervisor Patrick Jones has used the state of Missouri as an example of where a hand-count ballot system can work and also comply with federal election laws. Jones is leading a charge to eliminate electronic vote tabulation machines in Shasta County and return to hand-counting ballots. “I have been doing a little bit of research with at least one state. Missouri is returning to hand-counting,” Jones said at the board’s Feb. 28 meeting. The Show Me State is not ditching its electronic machines to hand-count ballots. New election provisions that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law in June 2022 do a lot of things. What they don’t do is mandate hand-counting all ballots. “Starting in 2024, we are eliminating some electronic equipment, which is called our DRE equipment. Basically, though, just saying that it will be replaced with equipment that will be producing that paper ballot. … But there’s nothing in Missouri where we’re going to start hand-counting all paper ballots,” JoDonn Chaney, director of communications for Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, said to the Record Searchlight.

Full Article: Missouri is not hand-counting votes, despite Shasta supervisor’s claim

California: Election experts warn against hand-counting ballots in Shasta County | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County’s quest to ditch voting machines and count every ballot by hand will be a laborious, time-consuming and a potentially more costly endeavor. Hand counting ballots might be feasible for smaller communities, but for a county like Shasta, with more than 110,000 registered voters, the process becomes more challenging, two election experts told the Record Searchlight. “There is nothing wrong with hand counting, per say. It’s just the larger the jurisdiction ― the number of ballot styles you have ― it does become a little more time-consuming and it does become more complex,” said Genya Coulter, senior director of stakeholder relations at the Open Source Election Technology Institute, a nonprofit that works to ensure election technology is accurate, secure and transparent. “I think it’s certainly going to be very resource heavy,” said Pamela Smith, president of the nonpartisan election watchdog group Verified Voting. “When you talk to election officials, the biggest challenge is recruiting enough poll workers. If you tell them they are going to have to recruit, easily, double the poll workers just to accomplish a hand count, it’s not feasible.” Smith said she has heard the argument that plenty of people want to volunteer to work elections. “That’s just not the case,” she added. “You will need a lot more people” and that could add to the cost.

Full Article: Election experts warn against hand-counting ballots in Shasta County

California: Shasta County cuts ties with Dominion amid unfounded voting fraud claims | Jessica Garrison/Los Angeles Times

Swept up in unproven voter fraud claims, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors has upended the county’s election process, canceling its contract with Dominion Voting Systems and opting this week to pursue, among other options, the possibility of counting votes by hand. Supervisor Kevin Crye, part of a newly empowered hard-right majority on the board, also announced at Tuesday’s board meeting that he had been in touch with MyPillow Chief Executive Mike Lindell, a prominent pro-Donald Trump election conspiracy theorist, about supporting a pilot voting system in the rural Northern California county. On the same day, in another Republican-controlled county 400 miles south, Kern County supervisors narrowly voted to keep Dominion as the county’s voting system, but not before listening to hours of testimony from residents who were convinced the system was rigged.

Full Article: Shasta cuts ties with Dominion amid unfounded voting fraud claims – Los Angeles Times

California: Kern County renews contract with Dominion as dozens lash out during meeting | Maddie Gannon/KGET

After weeks of uncertainty and multiple delays, on Tuesday, the Kern County Board of Supervisors decided to renew its contract with Dominion voting machines in a three-to-two vote. The new contract is for three years and will last through 2025. District 1 Supervisor Phillip Peters and District 4 Supervisor David Couch voted against the renewal while district 3 Supervisor Jeff Flores, District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner and District 5 Supervisor Leticia Perez voted in favor of it. The vote came after about five hours of discussion during a heated Board meeting on Tuesday. “I’m telling your Board that to replace our current voting system based on accusations that have yet to be proven, despite being made more than two and a half years ago, is a waste of taxpayer dollars,” Kern County Auditor-Controller-County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Aimee Espinoza said to a fiery reaction from the crowd. Dominion voting machines have been the source of speculation and controversy around the nation since the 2020 election, including in Kern. For weeks, a group of residents have taken the floor at board meetings asking the county not to renew its contract. Tuesday was no exception with over two dozen residents asking to delay the decision.

Full Article: Kern renews contract with Dominion as dozens lash out during meeting

California: Kern County considering another contract with Dominion Dalu Okoli/KGET

Although it has been three months since the 2022 midterm election, attention and contention is already turning to the 2024 contest. 17 News is learning more about one of the most controversial issues — Kern County’s contract with Dominion –the voting machines used around the nation, including in Kern, that have sparked heated debate since the 2020 election. Last month, over a dozen residents took the floor at a rowdy Board of Supervisors meeting, asking the county not to renew its contract with Dominion. The Board voted to delay consideration for the second time, this time pushing the topic until the Feb. 28 meeting. It has led to questions about whether Kern’s election head Aimee Espinoza is considering another option to count votes.

Full Article: Kern County considering another contract with voting machine vendor

California: Los Angeles County district attorney drops charges against CEO of Konnech | Juma Sei/NPR

In an abrupt reversal, Los Angeles County has dismissed charges against the chief executive of an election software company, marking the end of a case that prominent election deniers cited as evidence of foul play in American elections. Eugene Yu, CEO of the Michigan-based firm Konnech, was charged in mid October with illegally storing the personal information of poll workers on Chinese servers, a violation of its contract with LA County. Konnech has provided its PollChief software to cities and counties across the country, including a $2.9 million contract with Los Angeles County. On Wednesday, the district attorney’s office said that it had moved to dismiss the case. A judge in Los Angeles Superior Court granted the motion without prejudice. “We are concerned about both the pace of the investigation and the potential bias in the presentation and investigation of the evidence,” spokesperson Tiffiny Blacknell said in a statement. The county did indicate that it hasn’t ruled out refiling the charges after reviewing the evidence, saying it would “assemble a new team, with significant cyber security experience to determine whether any criminal activity occurred.”

Full Article: Los Angeles County DA drops charges against CEO of Konnech : NPR

California: In MAGA-Led Shasta County, Election Apprehension Reigns | Shawn Hubler/The New York Times

The countdown to a November vote usually feels momentous. This year, apprehension reigns. Since the violent aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, secretaries of state, county clerks and poll workers have been besieged with intimidating threats and bogus claims of misconduct. A federal task force established last year to deal with election threats has fielded more than 1,000 reports and prosecuted about a half-dozen cases. California, Vermont, Oregon and other states have passed laws to protect election workers. California election officials have generally not had to endure the frightening tactics seen in swing states such as Colorado, where the top election official was threatened last summer on her personal Instagram page, or Arizona, where the Maricopa County recorder received a death threat on his cellphone. But officials here are worried just the same. Shasta County, in the state’s rural far north, has been among California’s most intense election-denial hot spots since former President Donald J. Trump spread the lie that voter fraud cost him the White House. The county voted 2 to 1 for Trump in the 2020 election. Electoral distrust has been nurtured by far-right activists and a pro-Trump majority on the Board of Supervisors who took control from mainstream Republicans early this year.

Full Article: Shasta County Elections Chief Describes November Concerns – The New York Times

California county warns of ‘very aggressive’ people impersonating elections officials | Eric Ting/San Francisco Chronicle

“Very aggressive” individuals impersonating elections officials have reportedly been knocking on Shasta County residents’ doors and questioning their voter registration status, Shasta County’s elections office warned residents this week. “They’re wearing very distinctive neon vests and some kind of ID badge that says ‘voter task force,'” County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen told SFGATE. “We are being told that these people are being very aggressive and intimating that they work in this office when they do not. We want voters to know this isn’t an official effort; we have a whole host of tools we use to verify info. Door knocking is not something we would ever do.” Allen said it is probably a safe assumption that members of the fake “voter task force” are individuals who believe, incorrectly, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. In the time since that election, her office has become a “dumping ground for frustrations” and has had to deal with things ranging from frivolous copy-pasted public records requests to demands that the office preserve records it is required to destroy by California state law. “What we’ve heard is these people aren’t going door-to-door,” Allen said. “People who contacted us said, ‘My house is the only one on the street they went to.'”

Source: NorCal county warns of ‘very aggressive’ voter intimidation

California: ‘This cannot continue’: MAGA influencers are creating hell for elections offices | Eric Ting/San Francisco Chronicle

Natalie Adona, the clerk-recorder and registrar of voters in California’s Nevada County, is having a bad week. For almost two years now, her inbox has been inundated with public records requests from people who falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen. Thanks to a handful of online conspiracy theorists, though, this has been the worst week yet — not just for Adona, but for many election officials around the state. “The requests are growing exponentially,” she said. “There is some comfort in knowing that it’s not just us.” Every one of the requests, which are often copy/pasted from templates distributed by influencers peddling falsehoods about the 2020 election, must be carefully reviewed and responded to. Several counties have had to hire outside assistance to sort through the swarm, which officials told SFGATE is a labor-intensive distraction from their work preparing for the upcoming elections this year.

Full Article: MAGA influencers creating hell for Calif. elections offices

California: Election skeptics renew fraud claims, flood Shasta County official with records requests | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

For some in Shasta County, there are still questions to be answered about the 2020 presidential election. In a county where former President Donald Trump received nearly two-thirds of the vote, a vocal contingent of residents continues to voice grievances and parrot Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was rigged. It all played out during the Aug. 30 Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting when emotions ran high during the public comment period. Many who spoke demanded that an audit of the 2020 election be conducted, the county stop using Dominion voting machines to count votes and all the data be preserved rather than destroyed or recycled, which is allowed 22 months after the election, according to the U.S. election code. They also called for the elimination of electronic voting and the ability to vote by mail. Ninety percent of the people in Shasta County who voted in the June 7 primary did not do so at a polling place, Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen said.

Full Article: Election skeptics renew fraud claims at raucous Shasta County meeting

California: Cascade of failures upended Los Angeles County’s 2020 primary, report finds | Kim Zetter/Politico

The election that spawned malfunctions and long lines during Los Angeles County’s 2020 primary was even more chaotic and poorly planned than previously indicated, according to an unpublished consultants’ report obtained by POLITICO. The 390-page document by Slalom Consulting describes a beleaguered election department that missed key deadlines, failed to properly manage a vendor that supplied faulty equipment, and hired inexperienced call center staff to help election workers deal with the breakdowns. The report holds implications for other local governments as they increasingly adopt the same kinds of election changes implemented last year in Los Angeles County, one of the nation’s most populous voting jurisdictions. Those include an expansion of early voting; a switch from neighborhood precincts to vote centers where anyone registered in the county can cast ballots; and the use of electronic devices instead of paper “poll books” to verify voters’ eligibility. The county managed these changes ineffectively, the consultants wrote, leaving it unprepared to respond to technical problems. Among them were troubles with the electronic poll books, which have also caused confusion and hourslong waits in places such as Georgia, Philadelphia, North Carolina and South Dakota. Other jurisdictions should take heed, one elections expert said in a text message. “The spectacular failure of LA’s primary shows just how brittle the vote center model actually is, and how easily elections dependent on vote centers can be crippled by malfunctioning e-pollbooks,” said Susan Greenhalgh, senior adviser on election security for the election integrity group Free Speech for People.

Full Article: Cascade of failures upended LA County’s 2020 primary, report finds – POLITICO

California: San Francisco received $1.5 million to explore online voting. Critics think it’s a horrible idea | Jeff Elder/The San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco’s Department of Technology obtained a $1.5 million federal grant to explore online voting. That didn’t go over too well with voting experts. In a scathing letter delivered to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, a long list of election experts blasted The City’s Department of Technology on Tuesday, calling it illegal, a serious security risk and lacking in transparency. “We are writing to you today with grave concerns regarding an initiative of the San Francisco Department of Technology,” the letter reads, citing a pilot program for “an electronic ballot return system, which is not permitted under California law.” The letter is signed by the California Voter Foundation, National Voting Rights Task Force, Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford, along with Lowell Finley, a former California deputy secretary of state, among others. The project seeks an online program to verify the identities of disabled voters, who could then vote online. City paperwork from last April shows the San Francisco Department of Technology obtained a $1.5 million federal grant to pursue the online voting project on behalf of 11 other California counties. Elections Director John Arntz said at the Elections Commission meeting on Wednesday that the project was intended to explore voting solutions for citizens with accessibility issues who cannot easily vote in person, not to develop an online voting system. The experts express alarm at “the serious and unsolved security vulnerabilities” of online voting, a view shared by many other voting experts. Last year the federal government’s top election security agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, warned that “electronic ballot return is high risk” and “faces significant security risks to voted ballot integrity, voter privacy, and system availability.”

Full Article: SF received $1.5 million to explore online voting. Critics think it’s a horrible idea – The San Francisco Examiner

California: How one company came to control San Francisco’s elections | Jeff Elder/The San Francisco Examiner

For the past 13 years, San Francisco Elections Director John Arntz has cultivated a close relationship with a voting machine company that has become the sole bidder on The City’s business, while doubling its rates. During that time period, Dominion Voting Systems has won more than $20 million in city contracts while Arntz’s department has become dependent on the company to hold elections. At the same time, the Elections Department has failed to make progress on a possible solution – “open source” voting technology that would provide long-term “cost savings, increased election security, and public ownership over the critical infrastructure of democracy,” according to a civil grand jury convened by The City. Correspondence obtained by The Examiner through an open records request shows Arntz, over the course of his business relationship with Dominion, sent or forwarded more than 400 emails to a salesman at the firm, conferring with him on technology projects that could threaten the firm’s business and going as far as forwarding a competitor’s query about The City’s voting machines needs. Arntz, a 19-year City Hall veteran who makes $260,000 a year and controls a budget of $31 million, has relied heavily on Dominion Voting Systems and one particular sales executive named Steven Bennett, documents show. Arntz disputes that. “I don’t deal with him often,” Arntz told The Examiner about Bennett, who has handled Dominion’s San Francisco account for the past 13 years. Arntz also told The Examiner he wasn’t aware Dominion listed him as a reference when the voting machine firm was trying to land new clients. Documents show Arntz was listed as the salesman’s reference on bids sent to state governments, and that San Francisco’s elections director gave enthusiastic testimonials to prospective customers on behalf of Dominion.

Full Article: How one company came to control San Francisco’s elections – The San Francisco Examiner

California bar urged to probe Trump 2020 election adviser David G. Savage/Los Angeles Times

A group of prominent lawyers, including former governors and judges, urged the California bar on Monday to launch an investigation into John C. Eastman’s role in advising President Trump on how he could overturn his election defeat, including by having his vice president refuse to count the electoral votes in seven states won by President Biden. Eastman, a former law professor and dean at Chapman University in Orange County, emerged as a key legal advisor to Trump in the weeks after it was apparent he had been defeated in the November election. He wrote two legal memos that advised Vice President Mike Pence he could decide the results in several states were disputed and therefore that their electoral votes would go uncounted. Doing so would have turned Trump from a loser to the winner. Trump repeatedly pressed Pence to follow Eastman’s advice. But Pence understood correctly that the Constitution gave the the vice president a quite limited role. He presides in Congress on the day when the electoral votes are counted, but he has no role beyond opening the envelopes and announcing the state-by-state results. Despite Trump’s pressure, Pence decided he would follow the law, not the advice from Eastman.

Full Article: California bar urged to probe Trump 2020 election adviser – Los Angeles Times

California Governor Newsom signs bill to make voting by mail permanent in California | Emily Deruy/Marin Independent Journal

In a move that cements California’s future as a vote-by-mail state, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a bill that makes permanent what Golden State voters experienced during the pandemic elections of 2020 and last month’s recall: Every active registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail for every election. Advocates hailed the new law — Assembly Bill 37 from Menlo Park Assemblymember Marc Berman — as a way to make it more convenient for people to vote, which could increase participation in elections. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least five other states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — already conduct elections by mail. California’s more permissive voting system stands in stark contrast to efforts in other states to tighten voting requirements. Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill passed by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature that included new ID mandates and banned around-the-clock early voting. Georgia recently passed a law requiring voters to provide their driver’s license number or other form of ID to get or return an absentee ballot. “As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.

Full Article: Gov. Newsom signs bill to make voting by mail permanent in California – Marin Independent Journal

California: Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress? | Jeff Elder/The San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco has been locked into a monopolistic relationship with its voting machine vendor for years, preventing both competition and innovation, a grand jury and other experts have found. Yet this week The City’s top elections official pushed back on an offer of free help from a San Francisco nonprofit to explore new technology and bring much-needed competition. Longtime Elections Director John Arntz rebuffed the nonprofit, VotingWorks, at Wednesday’s Elections Commission meeting, saying, “We’re not looking to do a pilot program.” VotingWorks, a nonprofit that was developed in San Francisco’s Y Combinator startup incubator, has worked with the federal government’s main cybersecurity agency on election security projects, and is being used for elections in Mississippi, where the nonprofit journalism news agency ProPublica noted its “seamless performance.” Despite Arntz’s comments, records show that leaders including mayors and the president of the Board of Supervisors have called for voting machine pilot programs like this for a decade. In 2011, a city task force report on voting technology compiled for Mayor Ed Lee recommended a “policy of San Francisco to conduct pilot projects of alternative election technologies … such as using open source systems.”

Full Article: Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress? – The San Francisco Examiner

In red California, recall backers fuel unfounded claims of ‘rigged’ voting, bait workers | Diana Marcum and Priscilla Vega/Los Angeles Times

The Central Valley has long been a stronghold for red California. And on Tuesday, there were loud voices of support for the recall while some election workers had to deal with taunts over unfounded conservative claims of election fraud. The neighborhood of Fig Garden Loop in Fresno is known for big houses and yards full of fruit trees. Old money. Old farmers and ranchers. The polling place was at a business called Elite Venues. After her shift, election supervisor Rebekah Doughty said her lip hurt from biting it so hard, as almost half the voters who came in were spoiling for a fight. “They walked in just baiting: ‘How many dead people are voting here?’” “They questioned the pens. They said the machines didn’t read our type of pens.” “They pointed to the Dominion machines and said they were the center of the fraud.”

Full Article: California recall backers fuel claims of ‘rigged’ voting – Los Angeles Times

California: False Election Claims in Recall Reveal a New G.O.P. Normal | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

The results of the California recall election won’t be known until Tuesday night. But some Republicans are already predicting victory for the Democrat, Gov. Gavin Newsom, for a reason that should sound familiar. Soon after the recall race was announced in early July, the embers of 2020 election denialism ignited into new false claims on right-wing news sites and social media channels. This vote, too, would supposedly be “stolen,” with malfeasance ranging from deceptively designed ballots to nefariousness by corrupt postal workers. As a wave of recent polling indicated that Mr. Newsom was likely to brush off his Republican challengers, the baseless allegations accelerated. Larry Elder, a leading Republican candidate, said he was “concerned” about election fraud. The Fox News commentators Tomi Lahren and Tucker Carlson suggested that wrongdoing was the only way Mr. Newsom could win. And former President Donald J. Trump predicted that it would be “a rigged election.” This swift embrace of false allegations of cheating in the California recall reflects a growing instinct on the right to argue that any lost election, or any ongoing race that might result in defeat, must be marred by fraud. The relentless falsehoods spread by Mr. Trump and his allies about the 2020 election have only fueled such fears.

Full Article: False Election Claims in California Reveal a New G.O.P. Normal – The New York Times