California Secretary of State Warns Shasta County Against Hand Counting

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last Friday, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) issued a warning to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors regarding their purported plans to hand count the results of next week’s special election. 

Some Republican members of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors had claimed that newly enacted restrictions on hand counting did not apply to the county because the board decided to hand count before the legislation was enacted. “Such a claim is wholly without merit and has no basis in law,” Shirley wrote in a letter.

Assembly Bill 969, which was signed into law earlier this month, curbed hand counting in the state, ensured counties are prepared to conduct elections and forced Shasta County to use electronic voting systems. (Shasta County canceled its contract with Dominion Voting Systems in January.)

The secretary of state’s letter clarifies that Shasta County is subject to all provisions of A.B. 969, and that the law clearly applies to any election after A.B. 969 was enacted. If Shasta County were to go through with an illegal hand count, Weber’s office “stands ready to take any actions necessary” to ensure the county conducts all elections in accordance with state law.

Weber’s warning comes just a week after she received a letter from a group of nonpartisan California-based advocacy groups that outlined multiple concerns about the upcoming elections in Shasta County that required an “urgent, decisive, and sustained response” from Weber’s office. 

The groups pointed out a statement from the chair of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, Patrick Jones (R), who claimed that the “supervisors were still committed to implementing a hand count regardless of what the law says.” The groups also flagged comments made by Supervisor Kevin Krye (R), who called the county’s ballot scanners “fraudulent” and “unauthorized.”

Read more about the group’s concerns here. 

Read Weber’s letter to Shasta County officials here.