Breaking: Voting Rights Advocates Ask California’s Secretary of State To Monitor Shasta County’s Upcoming Elections

Breaking: Voting Rights Advocates Ask California’s Secretary of State To Monitor Shasta County’s Upcoming Elections

Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen stands next to California’s Deputy Secretary of State, Susan Lapsley, as she speaks to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors on February 28, 2023.

Six nonprofit voting rights advocacy groups have formally requested California’s Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, to provide monitoring and support for Shasta County’s upcoming elections. Among other requests, they’re asking her to deploy in-person monitoring of the local elections process both during the November 2023 and March 2024 elections.

Intervention by Weber’s office, the advocates write, could have “tremendous benefits . . . not only for the citizens of Shasta County but for all of the people who are watching these events unfold.”

Logos for the six organizations who participated in contacting California’s Secretary of State.

The nonpartisan coalition includes the California Voter Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Verified Voting, Disability Rights California, and the California Voter Foundation. The same group of voting advocacy organizations worked together earlier this year both in February and in March to contact the Shasta County Board of Supervisors about concerns with changes to the county’s voting system after a contract with Dominion Voting Inc. for voting machines, was canceled.

Yesterday, October 24, the advocates sent a joint letter to Weber asking her to respond to what they refer to as “grave concerns” about Shasta County’s election system stability which, they said, “call for urgent, decisive, and sustained response.” As California’s Secretary of State, Weber is the state’s chief election officer. Her duties include ensuring “that elections are efficiently conducted and that state election laws are enforced.”

The coalition of voter rights advocates say Shasta County voters are being subject to a “torrent of misinformation and disinformation” which “can be seen at nearly every Board of Supervisors meeting (and) truly threatens the electorate’s ability to discern the truth about how their upcoming elections will be administered and their confidence that their votes will be counted accurately and in accordance with the law

Voting advocates are particularly concerned about Board Supervisor Patrick Jones’s public statements saying he does not plan to follow new state law, AB 969, which requires the county to use machine, not hand, counting to tally election ballots. They also expressed concern about ongoing misinformation about the election process that’s being shared in public meetings, including by officials themselves. In particular, the coalition of advocates expressed concern about Jones’ statement that the county’s new Hart voting machines are “unauthorized,” which, they emphasized, undermines confidence in the election process.

Voter rights advocates also pointed in their letter to Weber that the need to deal with these extraordinary pressures has diverted time and resources from Shasta County Elections Office staff as they work to deploy a new voting system for the first time. A situation, they wrote, that endangers “the smooth administration of the upcoming elections and thus the rights of voters, including voters with disabilities.”

Advocates have asked Weber to respond by monitoring elections in-person during the upcoming November 7 special election and again next spring for the March 5, 2024 election. They’d also like her to provide any assistance required by Shasta County’s Registrar of Voters, Cathy Darling Allen, to ensure she is able to fulfill her election duties without interference, including interference from the newly-formed county Citizen Elections Advisory Committee.

Advocates also say they hope the state will work to supplement and support voter education efforts in Shasta County, including providing more information to voters about the safety and security of the voting system, including the California certification process.

You can read the full letter sent to the Secretary of State embedded below, or by following this link.

The full letter sent to the Secretary of State.

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