Shasta County, California Board of Supervisors Admits Ballot Error in Controversial Election

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Board of Supervisors in Shasta County, California put out a statement on Thursday admitting the county’s registrar made an error in printing the ballot for the March 5 primary election — in which a self-proclaimed MAGA candidate narrowly lost her race for an open board of supervisors seat. 

The board’s statement comes amid a lawsuit that Laura Hobbs, the candidate who lost the March 5 election for District 2 of the Shasta County board, filed in April challenging her election loss. Hobbs lost her election to Allen Long, who secured 50.13% of the vote — just enough to surpass the 50% threshold needed to avoid triggering an automatic runoff election. In her lawsuit, Hobbs, who was endorsed by noted election denier and pillow magnate Mike Lindell, alleged that a “multitude of scenarios” — including faulty voting machines, ballot design errors and improperly counted mail-in ballots — led to her election loss. 

According to reporting from the Redding Record Searchlight, the board released a statement on June 6 that the county’s Registrar of Voters “made an error” because the order in which the candidate’s names were listed on the ballots were not correct. Under California law, the order of the names on a ballot for a municipal election, like board of supervisors, is to be chosen in a randomized alphabet drawing by the Secretary of State. That was not done when the ballot for the March 5 primary was put together, according to the Shasta Board. The Board voted 3-2 in a closed-door session to release a statement admitting the Registrar’s error. 

“The Registrar of Voters made an error by not using the California Secretary of State’s randomized alphabet; as a result, the order names were listed on the ballot was not correct,” the statement reads. “California law specifies this requirement to randomly place names on the ballot to not afford any advantage to a specific candidate; instead, the name placement is essentially a lottery process. The Board majority believes this may have affected the election outcome and may have harmed those placed on the ballot. Nonetheless, the court is the trier of fact and will ultimately make the determination in this case.”

Although the Board’s statement says it believes the Registrar’s error “may have affected the election outcome,” one member of the five-member board told the Redding Record Searchlight that the statement isn’t meant to be read as taking Hobbs’ side in the ongoing legal challenge to the election results. “We are not really siding with anyone, other than stating a fact that a mistake was made,” said Patrick Henry Jones, the District 4 supervisor. “The ROV (registrar of voters) can’t make it right, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors can’t make this mistake go away or make it right. The honorable Judge (Stephen) Baker could. So it’s up to the court to determine if this error was substantial enough to have an affect on the outcome.”

The Registrar who made the error, Cathy Darling Allen, announced in February that she would be retiring after the election, after 20 years in the position. Despite Hobbs’ allegations that “intentional human actions… caused illegal ballots to be cast and tabulated,” Shasta board chair Kevin Crye said he didn’t think Allen’s ballot error was intentional.

Though the lawsuit is ongoing, in May Superior Court Judge Stephen Baker criticized Hobbs for numerous errors in her initial filing, which she never fixed. “This election is some distance from us now and there is a surprising lack of diligence from the applicant,” Baker noted.

Learn more about the case here.