California: Shasta County election lawsuit goes to court, with an unusual twist | Damon Arthur/Redding Record Searchlight

It appears the Shasta County Board of Supervisors and a woman who is suing the county after she lost in the March primary election for District 2 supervisor are making the same argument about why she lost the election. The lawyer for Laura Hobbs, who lost in the election, said in Shasta County Superior Court on Tuesday that one of the primary arguments for contesting the outcome of the election was how candidates’ names were placed on the ballot. Haberbush’s claim was similar to this statement issued last week by a majority of the county supervisors: “The registrar of voters made an error by not using the California secretary of state’s randomized alphabet; as a result, the order names were listed on the ballot was not correct. California law specifies this requirement to randomly place names on the ballot to not afford any advantage to a specific candidate; instead, the name placement is essentially a lottery process. The Board majority believes this may have affected the election outcome and may have harmed those placed on the ballot. Nonetheless, the court is the trier of fact and will ultimately make the determination in this case.” Read Artixcle

California: District 16 recount reveals that one county was plagued with thumb flubs and other voting errors | Grace Hase and Harriet Blair Rowan/The Mercury News

In the end, it came down to 19 ballots in Santa Clara County that ultimately made the difference in the hotly contested Congressional District 16 race — ballots that were never counted the first time around due to simple human error. While a change equal to just a fraction of a percent of votes is unlikely to shift the entire results of most elections, a once-in-a-generation perfect tie in this case exposed the gaffes and fumbles by one county in the tabulation process. What followed the March primary was two months of counting and recounting more than 182,000 votes in the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo — a stunning saga that finally came to a close on Wednesday afternoon. Read Article

California: Two months to count election ballots? State’s long tallies turn election day into weeks, months | Micharl R. Blood/Associated Press

Nearly two months after the election, a recount settled the outcome in a Northern California U.S. House primary contest, breaking a mathematically improbable tie for second place but also spotlighting the lengthy stretch it took count the votes. Most California residents vote by mail, and in the pursuit of accuracy, thoroughness and counting every vote, the nation’s most populous state has gained a reputation for tallies that can drag on for weeks — and sometimes longer. Voting in the state’s primary election concluded on March 5. At time when many Americans have doubts about election integrity, a two-month stretch to tally votes in one House race “absolutely is a problem from an optics point of view,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, which seeks to improve the voting process. Read Article

California: Advocates for blind people sue over mail voting rules | Bob Egelko/San Francisco Chronicle

Advocates for blind and other disabled voters in California are urging federal courts to intervene, arguing that the state’s current mail-in ballot rules force them to rely on others to cast their votes, violating their right to privacy and independence. They are seeking permission for those with print disabilities to return their ballots using fax machines or electronic equipment, citing the need for accessible alternatives like those provided in 13 other states. Currently, visually impaired voters can use electronic devices to fill out their ballots, but they must then print and deliver them, compromising the secrecy of their votes. Read Article

California supervisor who tried to get rid of Shasta County vote-counting machines survives recall | Adam Beam/Associated Press

A local official in a rural Northern California survived a recall attempt spurred in part by his effort to get rid of the county’s vote-counting machines following unfounded accusations of fraud amplified by former President Donald Trump. Kevin Crye was elected to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in 2022. He and two other supervisors then voted to get rid of the county’s vote-counting machines, directing local officials to hand count ballots. The machines were made by Dominion Voting Systems, the company at the center of debunked conspiracy theories of how Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. The decision divided the community and prompted a group of residents to file a recall petition to remove Crye from office a little over one year into his four-year term. That effort failed by just 50 votes out of more than 9,300 ballots cast, according to official results that were certified on Thursday by the Shasta County Registrar of Voters more than three weeks after Election Day. Read Article

California county on edge over bid to recall far-right, election-denying official | Dani Anguiano/The Guardian

The recall election in northern California’s Shasta County, targeting far-right supervisor Kevin Crye, remains undecided with Crye maintaining a slim lead of less than 50 votes out of over 9,000 cast. Crye, part of a far-right majority on the board, gained attention for his promotion of conspiracy theories and support for manual vote counting, meeting with figures like Mike Lindell of MyPillow. Crye’s potential loss reflects a shift in sentiment, exemplified by incumbent Patrick Jones’s defeat, suggesting voters may be seeking change. Crye’s supporters argue against the recall, portraying it as a Democratic effort, while critics cite his failure to fulfill campaign promises. The outcome could have implications for Shasta County’s political direction, with national figures like Rand Paul and Kari Lake weighing in, and the California governor potentially selecting Crye’s replacement if he loses. Read Article

California: ‘What’s it going to be this time?’: An election official braces for 2024 | Jessica Klein/Fast Company

It’s been a rough few years for election workers. Ever since former President Donald Trump called the 2020 presidential election “rigged,” spreading false claims of voting fraud echoed by his supporters, the once low-profile citizens who tally votes have found themselves under an unexpected spotlight—and the targets of vitriol. For Natalie Adona, who moved from private philanthropy at the Democracy Fund in Washington, DC to serve as Assistant Registrar of Voters in Nevada County in her home state of California in 2018, harassment has focused on her identity as an Asian American, her “outsider” status, and her county’s COVID-19 protocols. Read Article

‘California: An extreme agenda’: could a recall end far-right control of Shasta County? | Dani Anguiano/The Guardian

In 2022, 5,000 voters, angry about Covid-era health restrictions, ousted a moderate Republican official in Shasta county, California. The vote helped put the rural region, in the state’s north, on the map for extremist far-right politics In the two years since, the ultra-conservative majority that controls the county’s governing board has attempted to upend the voting system and spread conspiracy theories that elections were being rigged. They moved to allow people to carry firearms in public buildings in violation of state law and offered the county’s top job to the leader of a California secessionist group. Nowresidents frustrated by the county’s recent governance hope another recall will force a change. They’re aiming to oust Kevin Crye, a far-right county supervisor who has been in office for just a year. Read Article

California: Shasta County’s longtime Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen to retire | David Benda Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters, Cathy Darling Allen, will retire in May after two decades in office, citing a diagnosis of heart failure and the need for stress reduction as a crucial part of recovery. Darling Allen has often disagreed with the Shasta County Board of Supervisors far-right majority since it voted last January to terminate the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems. The controversial action launched a months-long crusade by the board’s majority to eliminate voting machines and get the county to hand count all ballots in local elections. It also brought national attention to Shasta County and at times drove supervisors’ meetings into further chaos and rancor. The attempt to hand count ballots was halted by a state law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2022, banning manual tallying in all but the smallest counties. Darling Allen will serve through the March 5 election before retiring. Read Article

California: Los Angeles County District Attorney to pay $5 million in civil rights case over bungled election conspiracy prosecution | James Queally/Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office will pay $5 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by Eugene Yu, the CEO of Michigan software company Konnech. The lawsuit, brought against Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, alleged civil rights violations and negligence related to a bungled 2022 prosecution. Yu was indicted on charges of illegally storing L.A. County poll workers’ personal information overseas based largely on conspiracy theories and false claims about working for the Chinese government. The case fell apart less than six weeks later, with prosecutors admitting that True the Vote, the source of the inquiry, provided baseless tips. The settlement, approved by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, includes dropping charges against Yu and a joint petition for a finding of factual innocence. Read Article

The California county where far-right officials tried to upend voting | Dani Anguiano/The Guardian

The Shasta County elections office in California faced heightened security measures during a recent special election, drawing national attention due to far-right politics and unfounded claims of election fraud. The county had planned a manual tally system, but state lawmakers passed a bill preventing manual tallies in most elections. The chair of the Shasta board of supervisors insisted on proceeding, creating tensions and fears of political unrest. Registrar Cathy Darling Allen, who faced harassment and opposition, had to navigate implementing the hand-count system despite its complexity and increased costs. Read Article

California: Election day in Shasta County comes off with little conflict | Hailey Branson-Potts and Jessica Garrison/Los Angeles Times

Shasta County Registrar-Recorder Cathy Darling Allen and her staff prepared for potential conflicts during Tuesday’s election by installing a 7-foot metal fence inside their office. The county had been embroiled in controversies over voting methods, with a far-right majority on the Board of Supervisors opting for a hand count over using Dominion voting machines, a decision that was later overruled by state officials. Despite concerns, the election proceeded relatively calmly, with minimal conflicts reported. About two dozen supporters of Darling Allen showed up to ensure the security of the vote count. Ultimately, fewer than 20% of eligible voters participated in the election, and the results are expected to be certified by November 22. Read Article

California: Shasta County’s ballot counting controversy came to a surprising end Tuesday. What happened? | Damon Arthur and David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

The election in Shasta County gained significance due to a dispute over how to count the ballots, drawing observers from across the state. The main focus was selecting a new member for the Gateway Unified School District board and deciding on a new fire protection district in Shasta. The disagreement led to Shasta County becoming the only one in the state to tally votes by hand, a decision opposed by Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen. Despite a new law against hand counting, Chairman Patrick Jones threatened legal action to continue it. Voter advocacy groups expressed concerns about integrity, prompting observers from various organizations. Media coverage highlighted the statewide importance of the election. Read Article

California: Shasta County ditched its Dominion voting machines. Now, residents are braced for turmoil on Nov. 7 | Jessica Garrison and Hailey Branson-Potts/Los Angeles Times

Shasta County, with a predominantly Republican population, is on edge as it nears its local election, with concerns of potential unrest or violence. The Board of Supervisors, leaning far-right, aimed to hand-count ballots after unproven voter fraud claims, but Governor Newsom intervened and signed a law limiting counties from doing so. The county registrar, Cathy Darling Allen, plans to follow state law and use newly purchased machines, which has sparked outrage among residents subscribing to election fraud conspiracy theories. This situation is emblematic of the larger trend of election officials facing threats and intimidation across the country. The standoff in Shasta is closely watched as a precursor to the 2024 elections, and experts express concern over the escalating rhetoric and division in modern American democracy. Read Article

California: Shasta County voting machines: An accusation of ‘staged chaos’ rings out at tense meeting | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors in California is grappling with internal divisions and controversies surrounding election procedures, particularly in the wake of a decision to switch from Dominion Voting Systems to Hart InterCivic. Board Chair Patrick Jones, along with two other supervisors, had advocated for hand-counted ballots, leading to tension and allegations of misinformation. Critics argue that the board majority’s focus on issues like Second Amendment rights, COVID-19 mandates, and election security is causing unnecessary discord and diverting attention from more pressing matters like the homeless crisis, crime, and jail capacity. The situation reflects a broader trend of political polarization and controversial local decision-making. Read Article

California: Voting Rights Advocates Ask Secretary of State To Monitor Shasta County’s Upcoming Elections | Annelise Pierce/Shasta Scout

Six nonprofit voting rights advocacy groups have formally requested California’s Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, to oversee and support the upcoming elections in Shasta County, California. They specifically ask for in-person monitoring during both the November 2023 and March 2024 elections. The coalition of advocacy organizations expressed serious concerns about the stability of Shasta County’s election system and highlighted misinformation and disinformation circulating in public meetings, potentially undermining voters’ confidence. They pointed out the diversion of time and resources from the Shasta County Elections Office staff due to extraordinary pressures, potentially endangering the smooth administration of upcoming elections and voters’ rights. The advocates called for Secretary Weber to provide necessary assistance to the county’s Registrar of Voters and to support voter education efforts in Shasta County. Read Article

California: Legal battle over tallying votes brews as Shasta County’s November special election looms | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County is facing a legal battle over its plan to manually tally votes, which violates a new state law, AB 969, that essentially bans manual counting of ballots in regular elections with more than 1,000 registered voters. The county chair, Patrick Jones, insists on proceeding with the hand-count system despite warnings from the Secretary of State’s office and the Attorney General’s office that they must comply with the new law. Jones has threatened litigation if the state tries to stop the county. This move is part of a broader trend of new election laws and administrative changes, some of which have faced legal challenges. Read Article

California bill limiting ballot hand counting becomes law; Shasta County pledges to defy statute | Nicholas Kerr/ABC

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill into law that restricts the ability of local governments to manually count ballots, a move prompted by Shasta County’s decision to terminate its contract with Dominion Voting Systems and opt for hand-tabulation. The new law, AB 969, limits hand-counting to specific circumstances, such as regularly scheduled elections in places with under 1,000 registered voters and special elections with fewer than 5,000 voters. It also prevents counties from canceling contracts for voting systems without a transition plan and finalized agreement for a new state-approved system. This decision comes after unsubstantiated conspiracy theories led Shasta County to terminate its contract with Dominion, leaving it without an election system for a period. The move to hand-count would have been an immense undertaking given California’s often complex and lengthy ballots, and it is now legally prohibited. Read Article

California: Divided Redding City Council authorizes letter to Shasta County about costs of hand counting ballots. Who’ll sign? | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Redding Mayor Michael Dacquisto and Vice Mayor Mark Mezzano are refusing to sign a letter expressing the city’s concerns about potential cost increases for hand-counting votes, a decision that divided the Redding City Council. Councilors Julie Winter, Tenessa Audette, and Jack Munns voted in favor of sending the letter, which aims to work with the county to develop a more cost-effective voting system that doesn’t strain the general fund. Dacquisto and Mezzano view the letter as a waste of time, with Mezzano indicating he won’t sign it despite being one of its authors. The letter responds to Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen’s estimates that hand-counting would raise Redding’s election costs from $46,630 to $176,645. Dacquisto mentioned Assembly Bill 969, which could eliminate manual tabulations in counties with over 1,000 registered voters, suggesting this would resolve the issue. The letter, however, does not explicitly address the county’s termination of its contract with Dominion Voting Systems or Supervisor Kevin Crye’s stance on the cost estimates. Read Article

California lawmakers vote to limit when local election officials can count ballots by hand | Adam Beam and Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

California lawmakers have voted to restrict the circumstances under which local governments can conduct hand counts of election ballots, a move primarily aimed at Shasta County. The county’s conservative-majority board of supervisors decided to terminate its contract with Dominion Voting Systems, citing loss of public confidence in the machines. The recent legislation limits hand counts to specific situations, such as regularly scheduled elections with fewer than 1,000 registered voters or special elections with fewer than 5,000 eligible voters. Critics argue that hand counts are resource-intensive and less precise compared to electronic tabulation. Read Article

California: Shasta County supervisors to vote on suing state over voting law prohibiting hand counting ballots in most elections | Damon Arthur/Redding Record Searchlight

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors is considering suing the state of California over a recently passed bill, Assembly Bill 969, that would prohibit hand counting ballots in most elections. The board argues that if the bill is signed into law, it would violate the state constitution by being illegally approved as an urgency measure, and it would also strip local control from the Shasta County supervisors. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin, would mandate the use of voting machines for ballot counting, except in elections with fewer than 1,000 registered voters. Shasta County, with over 110,000 registered voters, would be affected by this change. The bill also requires counties to have a transition plan and a replacement contract in place before terminating an existing voting system contract. While some supervisors support the potential lawsuit, others believe the funds could be better used elsewhere. Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen supports the bill, emphasizing the importance of using certified and qualified voting systems for tabulating results. Read Article

California State Senate Passes AB 969, Even as Costs of Shasta County’s Manual Tally of Election Ballots Continue to Rise | George Winship/anewscafe.com

The California State Senate has approved Assembly Bill 969, which places restrictions on certain voting jurisdictions, including Shasta County, preventing them from terminating voting system contracts and resorting to manual vote counting except in specific circumstances. This legislation is designed to safeguard the use of automated voting systems and curb the adoption of manual counting in these jurisdictions. Concerns highlighted include the rising expenses associated with manual ballot counts, which can become substantial. The bill will now return to the Assembly for consideration of Senate amendments before reaching the governor’s desk for final approval. Read Article

California: Glenn County Supervisors discuss potentially eliminating Dominion voting machines | Anwar Stetson/KRCR

The Glenn County Board of Supervisors discussed the possibility of switching to hand-counting ballots in local elections following concerns raised by citizens about voter fraud. Influenced by Shasta County’s decision to remove Dominion voting machines, residents urged their supervisors to do the same. However, they are cautious about making changes due to the pending AB-969 bill in the state committee, which could prevent counties with over one thousand people from hand-counting ballots. The board was receptive to the public’s concerns but did not take any immediate action or make a decision to eliminate voting machines. Read Article

California: Redding councilor says cost to hand count votes could affect city’s ability to hire police | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

The Redding City Council in California is concerned about a proposed voting system change in Shasta County that would involve hand counting ballots. The cost to implement this new plan would nearly quadruple the city’s expenses for the November 2022 election, potentially reaching $400,000 for two elections in a year. Councilwoman Julie Winter worries that this increase in costs would affect the city’s ability to hire police officers, impacting public safety. The proposed change to hand counting ballots is part of a broader investigation into attempts to overturn election results, but it could become moot if Assembly Bill 969, which bans manual counting of ballots in elections with over 1,000 registered voters, becomes state law. Read Article

California: Amended California bill would ban hand counts in elections with more than 1,000 voters | David Benda/Redding Record Searchlight

Assembly Bill 969, an updated version of a state bill introduced in response to Shasta County’s decision to stop using Dominion voting machines, includes language that would ban manual counting of ballots in elections with over 1,000 registered voters. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin, is an emergency statute that would take effect immediately upon Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature. The bill aims to require a county board of supervisors to have a transition plan and replacement contract in place before terminating an existing voting system contract. The bill has faced opposition from the Shasta County Republican Central Committee, while the county has spent over $1.5 million on a hand-counting system that has yet to be finalized. The amended version of the bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate’s Governance and Finance Committee. Read Article

California: Shasta County faces proposed bill and regulations targeting hand-counted ballots | Mike Mangas and Adam Robinaon/KRCR

Shasta County has become a focal point for state legislators in Sacramento due to proposed regulations and a bill aimed at hand-counting ballots. The county recently acquired accessible voting machines for disabled voters, costing $800,000, and plans to transition to manual vote counting using a table with four people: one to call out the vote, one to visually confirm it, and two to keep count. However, the challenge lies in aggregating the results without using computer equipment. Assembly Bill 969, if passed, would limit hand-counting to elections with fewer than a thousand registered voters. While the bill’s status is still being determined, Shasta County must continue preparing for a hand count in the upcoming November election. The proposed regulations are currently open for public comment until July 5, with a public hearing scheduled in Sacramento on July 3. Read Article

California: Shasta County scrapped its voting machines and didn’t replace them. A new bill would bar that | Jenavieve Hatch/The Sacramento Bee

Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin, D-Santa Cruz, has introduced Assembly Bill 969 in response to Shasta County Board of Supervisors’ decision to terminate its contract with Dominion Voting Systems. The bill aims to prevent counties from ending voting system contracts without a replacement plan in place. Pellerin argues that abruptly shifting to manual vote counting would be impractical and costly for counties, affecting the accuracy and efficiency of elections. She emphasizes the complexities involved in implementing a new voting system and highlights the need for resources and training. The bill passed in the Assembly, with some opposition from Republicans, and will now proceed to the Senate. Pellerin’s experience as a former County Clerk has shaped her belief in the importance of secure, transparent, and accessible voting processes. Read Article

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