The Shasta County, California, Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to terminate its contract with Dominion Voting Systems.
It is the first county in the state to do so.
Shasta is in a more conservative part of northern California near the Oregon border, about a two-hour drive from Sacramento.
In the 2020 presidential race, the county voted 65.4 percent for Donald Trump and 32.3 percent for Joe Biden.
According to SFGate, the board’s makeup is 4-to-1 in favor of conservatives.
The vote to stop using Dominion Voting machines was 3-2.
Supervisors Patrick Jones, Chris Kelstrom and Kevin Crye all voted to end the contract.
Though also a conservative, Supervisor Tim Garman wanted more information before the county switched systems. He sided with Mary Rickert in voting against the change.
“We have a right to the people to do our due diligence,” Garman said, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.
Rickert pointed out to the board, “We were all elected by Dominion voting machines. I’m just really curious, are we questioning the outcomes of our elections?”
Jones shot back, “Supervisor Rickert, nobody ran against you.”
Jones, Kelstrom and Crye all suggested that last June’s primary deserved a closer look after four “non-establishment” candidates lost to incumbents.
“Just because we’re all sitting up here and elected does not mean we had [a] free and fair election every single time. And for me, watching that very closely, the 2022 primary election here in Shasta County, I saw lots of concerns,” said Jones, who has led the charge to replace the Dominion machines.
Yay!! Now @buttecountygop should do this.
— Sondra Marshall (@hinzpeter1yaho1) January 25, 2023
Acting county CEO Patrick Minturn told the board the cost for the county switching to a new electronic voting system, including training employees, would be at least $1 million.
Two other voting systems — from Hart InterCivic and Election Systems & Software — are certified for use in California.
Many at the meeting spoke of eliminating the use of voting machines altogether, according to the Record Searchlight.
“Those are all issues related to state law. Neither I nor the board of supervisors can mandate voter ID, mandatory paper ballots. That is something that has to come from the Legislature,” Shasta County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen told the news outlet after the meeting.
Joanna Francescut, assistant county clerk and registrar of voters, wondered what more can be done to gain voters’ trust.
“We have done a 1% tally audit of every election in Shasta County since 2018. We found one mistake,” she said.
Francescut is referring to what seems to be a standard practice nationwide of checking the accuracy of the voting machines by doing a small hand-count audit of randomly selected precincts.
Hand counts in 2020 and again during this past midterm election cycle have shown errors in the vote counts tabulated by machines, but they have been attributed to user mistakes.
Initially, Biden had a 3,000-vote lead in the northwest Michigan county, which Trump had carried by 30 percentage points in 2016 over Democrat Hilary Clinton.
After a hand recount was conducted, Trump carried the county by more than 3,700 votes — a nearly 7,000 vote swing.
A representative of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office attributed the discrepancy to “county user error,” WLNS-TV reported at the time.
A hand count conducted in the entire state of Georgia following the 2020 general election revealed that thousands of ballots had not been tallied.
These discrepancies were also attributed to human error in the uploading of ballots to the machines.
Then-President Trump ended up netting more than 1,200 votes over Democratic challenger Joe Biden, but it was not enough to change the overall result.
This past May, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that, based on the initial results posted, Democratic Dekalb County commission candidate Michelle Long Spears came in third place in her primary contest and therefore did not qualify for a runoff.
“Spears and her team, though, noticed that initial results showed her receiving zero election votes at most precincts in the district,” the news outlet said.
After a hand count was conducted over Memorial Day weekend, Spears picked up more than 3,600 votes and went from being in third place to first.
The Georgia secretary of state’s office admitted to making several programming mistakes in its Dominion machines in the primary race.
The best step that could be taken to reassure voters is to go back to full hand counts using paper ballots that are very difficult to counterfeit.
It seems likely Shasta County would follow suit if it were allowed to do so.
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