OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
5:40 PM – Thursday, October 5, 2023
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two new bills, one that restricts the ability of local governments to manually count ballots and the other to guarantee workers more sick days.
The California governor (D-Calif.) signed Senate Bill 616 by Senator Lena Gonzales (D-Calif.) allowing employees to have at least five paid sick days per year, up from the current amount of three days per year. The bill also increases the accrual and carryover amounts.
Additionally, Newsom signed legislation into law on Wednesday that will minimize the ability of local governments to manually count ballots.
However, this new bill sets up what could potentially be a political and legal collision in Shasta County regarding whether manual or machine tallying will occur in the next election coming in November.
On Wednesday, AB 969, which targets Shasta County’s controversial decision to remove machine tallies in local elections, was signed by Newsom.
The bill is an urgent law. Therefore, it takes effect immediately.
Shasta County Board of Supervisors Chairman Patrick Jones explained on Wednesday that he has been anticipating for the governor to sign the bill.
The newly signed bill will not be impacting Shasta County’s intentions to hand count ballots in the November 2023 and presidential primary election in March 2024, according to Jones.
“I’ve asked legal counsel to weigh in on this. And I believe that it does not affect Shasta County,” Jones said. “We already made that decision to get away from machines in January and February. We have been waiting this entire time for the Secretary of State, which said she would approve a hand tabulation plan. She has yet to do so. So she’s simply dragging her feet on this. But we have already made our decision. And a majority of the board has already spoken.”
Although Jones had previously mentioned that the county would file against to allow a hand count of votes, he stated on Wednesday that the action to do so may not be necessary anymore.
“As far as I’m concerned, we push forward. The state may want to sue us,” Jones said.
The California State Assembly passed the bill, now law, last month. This will limit the manual counting of ballots in elections with over 1,000 registered voters. There are over 110,000 registered voters in Shasta County.
Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin (D-Calif.) administered the bill weeks after Shasta supervisors in late January voted 3-2 to end the county’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems.
In an emailed statement to the Record Searchlight, Pellerin wrote, “I would like to thank Governor Newsom for signing this important election integrity bill. AB 969 puts in important guardrails to ensure that California’s elections remain accessible, accurate, and auditable. By clarifying the conditions under which a manual count may be performed, AB 969 ensures that no California voter will be disenfranchised by the actions and decisions of ill-informed political actors.”
Pellerin additionally mentioned that it requires the use of federally-qualified and state-certified voting systems.
Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen stated on Wednesday that she is interested in continuing as if Shasta County must count ballots electronically. However, Allen said she would also like to follow the law, so she will be consulting with the County Counsel’s office for instructions.
“I am the independently elected county clerk and registrar of voters, and I consider the board my partner, and they have to follow the law, OK? They may not think so. I can’t control other people,” she said.
The new bill has stirred up much controversy in Shasta County.
On Tuesday, supervisors accepted certification of the recall petitions and voted to hold the recall election on March 5th, 2024.
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