California Senate Considers Bill Aimed at Shasta County Hand Counting Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The California Senate is considering a recently passed bill — Assembly Bill 969 — which would change how counties handle contracts and plans for voting systems. The bill already cleared the Assembly on April 27.

A.B. 969 comes after Shasta County, California, a red county in the northern part of the state, voted to cancel its contract for voting machines with Dominion Voting Systems and instead hand count ballots in all future elections. This move left the county without a plan to count ballots, or an approved vendor to accommodate voters with disabilities, creating considerable uncertainty about whether the county will be able to conduct future elections in compliance with all relevant state and federal laws. To remedy this issue, state legislators introduced A.B. 969 to prevent other counties from taking similar steps and ensure stability in the conduct of California elections ahead of 2024.

Under A.B. 969, counties would be prohibited  from canceling a contract for a voting system unless a replacement contract and transition plan are already in place. The bill would ensure that counties are prepared to conduct elections at all times and avoid the uncertainty currently plaguing Shasta County.

Shasta County’s decision to cancel its contract with Dominion is just one of many outgrowths of right-wing conspiracy theories regarding voting machines. Last year, Cochise County in Arizona tried repeatedly to hand count all ballots in the midterm elections, embroiling itself in a protracted legal conflict. Just last month, Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli (R) sent a letter requesting that all Arizona counties comply with onerous voting machine requirements that would effectively ban all tabulators in the state.

Read A.B. 969 here.

Track the status of A.B. 969 here.