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Shasta County Elections Commission recommends hand counting ballots in violation of state law

A sign in front of a large building with a clock tower on top. The sign says "County of Shasta California, Administration Center, 1450 Court Street."
Roman Battaglia
JPR News
The Shasta County Administration Center, where the Board of Supervisors meets.

A citizen commission in Shasta County created by right-wing politicians is recommending that county officials violate a new state law by hand-counting election ballots in future elections.

The county elections commission voted 4-1 on Monday to send a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors advocating for hand counting ballots. That’s according to Susanne Baremore, a Shasta County resident and the lone dissenting vote on the commission.

The report submitted to supervisors cited a number of election fraud conspiracy theorists and a need to restore confidence in local elections. That’s despite the county’s registrar of voters, Cathy Darling Allen, winning her most recent re-election in 2022 by almost 70% of the vote.

“It is incumbent on the County to dictate the manner in which elections are conducted,” the report said.

The commission said the county should hand-count election ballots, rather than use machines.

Shasta County supervisors already tried to have election officials hand-count ballots last year, a process that has been found to be more expensive, more time consuming and less accurate than using machines.

That effort triggered the passage of a new state law banning the hand-counting of ballots in most California elections.

Monday’s recommendation claims that state law violates the county’s rights. It cites a state election code that grants a governing board the authority to use a voting system of its choice. But, California law also requires such a system to be certified by the Secretary of State, which does not include hand-counting.

The commission’s recommendation now heads to the Board of Supervisors, which would have to enact any kind of ordinance.

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.