The Shasta County California Board of Supervisors this week voted 3-2 to move to a hand-counted ballot process by March 2024 after terminating a contract with Dominion Voting Systems in January. The vote came during an eight-hour board meeting that included hours of public comment on March 28.
Shasta County, in Northern California, has about 182,000 residents and almost 112,000 registered voters. Redding is its county seat.
“The majority of Americans do not trust these machines,” said Patrick Henry Jones, board chairman, at the meeting. “I believe hand counting is the only way to restore the trust of the voters. It’s why so many smaller counties across the country have done the same thing, and why entire countries, including the largest country on the planet [India], does hand counting. People are looking at us because we are a medium sized county and if we can do it, and I believe we can easily do it, they will do the exact same thing. They just need somebody to take the lead. If you want to do something, you can do it. If you want it to fail, it will fail.”
Jones made the motion calling for the county to develop a hand-counting process to replace the Dominion voting machines. Supervisors Kevin Crye and Tim Garman joined his affirmative vote. Mary Rickert and Chris Kelstrom were opposed to the measure.
The hand-counting process, once it is developed, has to be approved by the California secretary of state. Jones said based on discussions with the secretary of state, it would take two to three weeks process to be approved. He said one machine would be used at each of the county’s 68 precinct voting locations for handicapped voters in accordance with state law.
According to a source at the secretary of state’s office, each of California’s voting precincts is capped at 1,000 registered voters under state law. Ohio’s precincts are capped at 1,400 voters under Ohio Revised Code.
In a letter sent the day before the meeting, Cathy Darling Allen, the county’s clerk and registrar voters, implored the board to rescind the termination of Dominion’s contract and keep the voting machines.
“If the board opts for a full manual tally it must plan to provide at a minimum $1,651,209.68 and 1,300 staff members necessary to implement a full manual tally,” Allen wrote.
At a previous meeting, on March 15, Susan Lapsley, deputy secretary of state, opined that a voting system that includes “technology” is the only way available to comply with California laws that ensure that all voters be able to cast a ballot privately and independently.”
Linda Rantz, who works with Missouri Canvassers, a group that has investigated the 2020 election in Missouri, met with county officials earlier this month to speak in support of manual tallying of paper ballots.
Rantz “claims that her method of manually tally could be easily adopted by Shasta County. This is not true,” Allen wrote in her letter. “Rantz’s plan assumes a materially different legal and factual background than the one we face in Shasta County.”
Allen said the development and implementation of “such an entirely new, untested, unproven program would be extremely difficult. It would require the county to develop polices and processes from the ground up to allow for all the complexities of ballot processing and tally. This includes but is not limited to developing processes for ballot examination and duplication, the tally itself, recording and aggregating election results by hand, allowing for meaningful observation, transportation, onboarding the hundreds of required temporary staff, adjudication of ballots and auditing the manual tally for accuracy.”
Voting must have been hell before machines were invented.