State Legislature Committee Debating Bill To Address Hand-Counted Elections

A state bill moving through the legislature would upend Shasta County’s plans for a hand-count election. A bill was first crafted in February in response to Shasta County Supervisors’ 3 to 2 decision to dump the Dominion Voting Machines and opt for an all-manual hand count. That bill, AB-969, has seen some major tweaks, most notably a provision that would ban hand-counts for any election that included at least a thousand voters. According to other rules in the bill, counters must surrender their cell phones, cameras and other electronics, as well as pencils, pens and any other kind of marking device. They also must wear surgical gloves. Counting groups can only process 25 ballots at a time and each stack needs to be certified before they can move on to the next stack. The Secretary of State says manual tallies are “historically inaccurate”, so all ballots must be tabulated by a machine to verify the accuracy of the human counters. The bill being debated Wednesday in the Governance and Finance Committee and is not yet ready for a floor vote. In the meantime, Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling-Allen and her staff are continuing to work on a hand-count system just in case.