A Bill to Ban Hand Counting of Ballots in California Moves Forward
A bill that could have a significant impact on future elections in California is making its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. Assembly Bill 969, authored by Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin, aims to prohibit the hand counting of ballots in most elections in the state.
The bill states that any regularly scheduled election with over 1,000 registered voters or special elections with over 5,000 registered voters would be required to use state-approved machines for vote counting.
Supporters of the bill argue that using voting machines ensures secure, auditable, and accessible voting systems. Assemblywoman Pellerin expressed her belief in the effectiveness of voting systems in a post on Instagram.
“[AB 969 will] ensure that all Californians have access to secure, auditable, and accessible voting systems. Voting systems are faster, more accurate, and a tried and tested way of counting votes,” Ms. Pellerin wrote on Instagram after the bill’s passage.
However, the bill does allow for hand counting in certain circumstances, such as during natural disasters or states of emergency when electronic voting systems are impractical.
The bill has received support along party lines and has undergone multiple amendments before passing in both legislative houses. It is a response to the decision made by the Shasta County Board of Supervisors to cancel their lease agreement with Dominion Voting Systems and opt for hand-counting ballots instead.
If AB 969 becomes law, Shasta County and other counties in California would be prohibited from conducting manual vote counts, potentially impacting the upcoming special election in Shasta County on November 7.
The League of Women Voters of California, a Sacramento-based political organization, supports the bill, stating that Shasta County’s actions have put their elections at risk and diminished public trust. They also express concerns that other counties may follow suit without legislation like AB 969.
Opponents of the bill argue that machine voting has its flaws and that relying solely on technology can be unreliable and manipulatable. The Shasta County Board of Supervisors, in their decision to use hand-counting, believed they were acting responsibly and meeting the needs of their county based on evidence and considerations.
As the bill awaits Gov. Newsom’s decision, its potential impact on future elections in California remains a topic of debate.
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