CA Lawmakers Ban Hand-Counting in Most Elections

A bill that bans manual ballot counting in most elections has been passed by the California Legislature and is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom for signature.

AB 969 was introduced as an urgency measure by Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) after Shasta County canceled its contract with Dominion Voting Systems in favor of a hand-counting system. Shasta supervisors were motivated by debunked claims of a conspiracy to corrupt voting machines during the 2020 presidential election. In addition to being costly for the county, critics said hand-counting would be infeasible and potentially disenfranchising.

AB 969 prohibits hand counting in an election when there are more than 1,000 registered voters, or over 5,000 registered voters for special elections. Exceptions exist for natural disasters or other emergencies that disrupt electronic voting.

Shasta County Supervisor Tim Garman, who opposed the switch, said the state is trying to prevent hand-counting attempts from spreading to other counties. 

"Shasta County is not our own country," he added (NPR). "We don't get to make all of our own laws. There are things we can and cannot do and we've stepped way out of our lane with this."