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Shasta County Ends Dominion Voting Systems Contract

The California county has terminated its use of Dominion Voting Systems over widely debunked claims of mass voter fraud. The state only has three voting systems it allows its counties to use and it is unclear which one Shasta will select.

(TNS) — California's Shasta County — where hard-line conservatives hold a 4-1 majority on the county board of supervisors following the results of the November 2022 elections — terminated its contract with Dominion Voting Systems Tuesday evening. The justification? Widely debunked claims of mass voter fraud.

The county, described by the New York Times as "MAGA-led" following the recall of longtime Supervisor Leonard Moty in February 2022, is California's ground zero for "Stop the Steal" madness. Since November 2020, county elections chief Cathy Darling Allen has had to deal with everything from "aggressive" individuals impersonating elections officials to frivolous demands that the office defy state law and preserve records it is required to destroy.

Allen was thrown another curveball last week: Board President Patrick Jones, a key figure in the Moty recall who previously boasted to SFGATE that his dietary habits would protect him against COVID-19, added an agenda item to Tuesday night's meeting calling for a discussion of the Dominion contract. The company has been the subject of many bogus conspiracy theories and has since filed high-profile defamation lawsuits against Fox News, Newsmax and OAN.

"We've been having this conversation for a while, so I'm not sitting here shocked and appalled," Allen told SFGATE Wednesday morning. "Well, I'm appalled. But shocked? No."

During Tuesday's meeting, several members of the community who spoke during public comment floated outlandish election fraud theories. Jones, as well as board newcomers Chris Kelstrom and Kevin Crye, voted to terminate the contract. Moty's replacement, Tim Garman, who is usually aligned with the Jones wing, and Mary Rickert, a former Moty ally, cast dissenting votes.

"It's really unfortunate they made a decision based on feeling and emotion but not evidence," Allen said. "So we will go forward now."

California state law has only three voting systems it allows counties to use: Dominion, Hart and Election Systems & Software (ES&S). Allen told SFGATE she has begun the process of reaching out to the other two vendors, and that it's too early to know how much the board's move will cost the county. Acting county CEO Patrick Minturn told the board Tuesday it would be upward of $1 million.

"It's going to be a very heavy lift," Allen told SFGATE. "We're going to have to retrain all of our full-time staff. We'll have to completely revamp our processes for elections, including producing ballots and determining what ballots even look like. I have no idea what the other vendors' ballots look like, so we'll be updating and revamping all the materials we send to voters."

Some county residents who spoke during public comment asked how the move could possibly be seen as fiscally conservative, but such arguments were apparently unpersuasive to the three board members who voted to terminate the contract. The meeting itself was contentious, with Jones, Rickert and Allen trading barbs.

After Rickert told the board, "We were all elected by Dominion voting machines. I'm just really curious, are we questioning the outcomes of our elections?" Jones fired back, "Supervisor Rickert, nobody ran against you," a comment that drew laughter from his many ideological allies in the room. Rickert responded dryly, "You're so cute."

Later, Allen told Jones that many of the people he's cited as election fraud "experts" are not actually experts. "I don't feel like we're hearing all the voices," Allen added. Jones interjected to seemingly suggest Allen was mentally unwell, stating, "I don't know what voices you're hearing, Cathy, to be honest" — another remark his fans in the room laughed at.

"I think we need to try to have a little bit of respect," Rickert immediately told Jones.

"Well, Supervisor Rickert, why should we have any respect?" Allen replied. "I was not contacted about this item. I wasn't asked any questions about this item. Unfortunately, Supervisor Jones, you have decided that I am not someone that you trust. But 68 percent of the people who showed up to vote in June do."

That last comment, which drew applause from Allen's supporters in the room, is a reference to her resounding reelection victory in 2022. One anti-Dominion member of the community who spoke during public comment floated the possibility of recalling Allen, who told SFGATE that even if enough signatures were gathered, she wouldn't be worried.

"I'm not worried for my job. I've worked for the county for over 25 years," she said. "I love what I do and want to continue to do it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have run for office again."

(c)2023 SFGate, San Francisco. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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