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Past protests led to heightened security at Shasta County elections office

Cathy Darling Allen talks with supporters at the elections office Tuesday night
Roman Battaglia
Jefferson Public Radio
Cathy Darling Allen talks with supporters at the elections office Tuesday night

The Shasta County clerk’s office in Redding was calm on election night, compared to rowdy conditions during the June, 2022 primary election.

The largely Republican county in far northern California has been the subject of national attention since the takeover of the county board of supervisors by a far-right majority earlier this year.

Despite an angry mob showing up in June after several extremist candidates lost their elections, heightened security measures and support from poll workers seem to have contributed to a more relaxed atmosphere this time.

“We want the staff here to know that there are people in the community who support them, who believe in the process,” said Madison Zimmerman, a member of the Shasta County Democratic Women's Club. “Hopefully we deter people from showing up.”

Zimmerman and several other supporters held signs with the words “We love the Shasta County Elections Department.”

As of Tuesday night, the races for county supervisor were neck and neck. With many votes yet to be counted, around 66% of votes reported, moderate candidate Baron Browning holds a slim lead over their far-right opponent Chris Kelstrom with 50.77% of the vote. And conservative Kevin Crye leads against Redding City Council member Erin Resner with 51.76% of the vote.

In June, angry supporters of far-right candidates stormed the elections office after results started to come in. The night culminated in a heated argument outside the elections office between Shasta County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen and a group of protesters.

For the midterm election, Darling Allen made changes to the observer process, including restricting election observers to one area of the office, blocking off the back alley where ballots are delivered, and using video cameras to display other parts of the elections office. Two county sheriff's deputies were also on hand in case of disruptions.

Darling Allen said poll worker safety and security was her top priority on election night.

“People’s perception of their safety is paramount,” Darling Allen said. “I can’t run this process effectively if the people who work here are afraid.”

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.