‘2020 settled today’: County clerk can destroy election ballots
After hearing hours of comments from local election skeptics claims of fraud in the November 2020 presidential election, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors deferred to County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen on Tuesday.
Many in the supervisors chambers came in anticipation of an agenda item in which the board would consider taking action related to preserving election materials from the 2020 election.
But a motion made by District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones asking Darling Allen to preserve the ballots for six months to give supporters time to file a lawsuit failed to get a second motion.
So Darling Allen will now go ahead and destroy or recycle the ballots and other materials.
By election law, she has the ability to do so 22 months after the election. The 2020 deadline to do that was Sept. 3.
It was Jones, and Supervisors Les Baugh and Tim Garman who were in the 3-2 majority on Aug. 30 to put the item on the agenda. But both Baugh and Garman on Tuesday said they have full confidence in Darling Allen's office and don't believe there is any fraud going on.
Baugh, who represents District 5 and chairs the board, said "22 months is enough time to file 22 lawsuits" but to date none have been submitted.
"This county (voted for) President (Donald) Trump. Why you want to contest that as a conservative county, I have no idea," Baugh said.
"2020 has been settled today," he added before noting that if anybody had concerns about more current elections they are welcome to bring those forward.
At issue was whether supervisors had the authority to tell Darling Allen what to do. She is an elected official and does not work for the supervisors.
County Counsel Rubin Cruse Jr., in a memo to the board, stated that it has the authority to supervise the conduct of county officials, including the registrar of voters. But supervisor do not have the “power to perform a county officer’s statutory duties for him or her, or direct the manner in which the duties are performed.”
Many who spoke demanded that the county stop using the Dominion voting machines it has used to count ballots since 2018 and to preserve all local data from the November 2020 election.
Some prayed before making their point and likened it to a David versus Goliath showdown.
"We are outraged that our election has been stolen and our vote nullified," Marjorie Andrews said. "This truth, the evidence of election fraud will be revealed."
While they claimed this is not a partisan issue, they are parroting the same rigged-election claims that former President Trump has campaigned on since losing to Joe Biden in November 2020, an election that showed nearly two-thirds of the voters in Shasta County voted for Trump.
Among those who spoke was Douglas Frank, who has attracted national notoriety for his claims of alleged election fraud using graphs and other illustrations. Frank said he has uncovered "real, actionable election fraud."
Frank, who was scheduled to speak to the Shasta Freedom Coalition in Redding on Tuesday evening, spoke at a rally for Trump in Ohio in June 2021.
Covering the Ohio rally, the Cincinnati Enquirer, a sister paper of the Record Searchlight, wrote that Frank's theories have been debunked by various media sources and at least one state oversight committee.
"A report from the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee, led by two Republicans, argued Frank's claims weren't 'sound,' saying they didn't account for moving patterns or same-day registration that would create natural disparities between Census data and voter registrations," the Enquirer said.
Frank and others claiming fraud believe voting machines are connected to the internet and therefore they can be hacked and manipulated.
Frank told Shasta supervisors that he carries "a sensor" that can detect if a machine is communicating with the internet.
Not everybody who spoke Tuesday agreed with the election fraud claims and called out what they see as a double-standard.
"It's simple, if there was no voter fraud when you all recalled (Leonard) Moty, there isn't any now. The fact of the matter is you people are losers. You lost a fair and balanced election. ... " said Nathan Pinkney, who goes by Nathan Blaze. Pinkney opposed the recall.
Former District 2 Supervisor Moty was recalled in February and there was no uproar over those results in the wake of that election.
Jon Ruiz, a retired Shasta County Sheriff's Office deputy, noted that in 2020 local officials like state Sen. Brian Dahle, Assemblywoman Megan Dahle and U.S. Congressman Doug LaMalfa all won convincingly.
"Mr. Jones won by over 2,000 votes, a significant amount," Ruiz said of Jones' supervisorial District 4 victory over incumbent Steve Morgan. "Where all this fraud is coming from, I just don't get it."
David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly "Buzz on the Street" column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-338-8323. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.