Today, Shasta County Clerk and Faces of Democracy member Cathy Darling Allen submitted written testimony to the House Administration Elections Subcommittee, calling attention to ongoing attacks on democracy in counties across the country inspired by disinformation and conspiracy theorists like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell who are undermining our electoral systems and the people running them.
Allen’s testimony comes as the Elections Subcommittee held a hearing today reflecting on the successes of the 2022 midterm elections.
“While it is right and proper for this hearing to focus on successes in election administration during the 2022 midterm elections – Shasta County’s elections certainly fit into that definition – the spread of conspiracy theories and lies that I have experienced, along with hundreds of my colleagues across the country, threatens the success of future elections,” Allen wrote. This has “placed the security of our elections at risk and created a dangerous precedent encouraging outsiders to undermine our elections at the county-level.”
“Six weeks ago, the Board of Supervisors took extreme action by canceling the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems over concerns about local voters’ trust in the voting system that surfaced immediately after the results of the 2020 election were published, with no plan in place to conduct future elections.
“The move effectively left Shasta County without a voting system, leaving the Elections Department in the vulnerable position of not being able to accomplish its primary mission: to conduct elections.
“Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to create a hand count-only election system. Board Chair Patrick Jones cited ‘concerns’ about the 2020 election, and has previously expressed in public forums that he does not believe that technology is required to conduct free and fair elections.
“He is wrong.”
Allen cites extensive research which tells us that hand counting ballots at a large scale is less secure, less accurate, and more expensive than machines. She also explains why such a system would likely violate state and federal law and would disenfranchise voters with disabilities: “The Help America Vote Act of 2002 and California Elections Code are specific in their requirements to allow all voters to vote privately and independently regardless of their physical capability. That requires technology. Voters with visual impairments can listen to an audio version of a ballot, or increase the text size. Touchscreens and handheld controllers can also provide voters with additional assistance to ensure they’re able to exercise their freedom to vote privately.”
“The Shasta County Board of Supervisors is on the verge of creating a large liability and risk for the county and the state in the form of lawsuits,” Allen stated. “Mr. Lindell is promising to pick up the tab for those lawsuits, and for the hand counting system itself, but we should not mortgage our democracy to any one person… Unfortunately, the situation we are facing is not limited to our jurisdiction here in northern California. There are similar conversations happening in other parts of the state, including Kern County, all rooted in the same nefarious movement to undermine American elections.”
Allen concluded by calling “for this attack on democracy in Shasta County to stop” and invited congressional members to visit Shasta County.
“A functioning democracy requires all of us – Republicans, Democrats, and independents – to work together to keep our elections free, safe, secure and trusted. Any effort to jeopardize this founding principle must be defeated.”