Gearing up for 2020 elections

Plumas County voting system decertified, new supplier approved

A new voting system vendor was approved by members of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 17.

At the recommendation of Plumas County Clerk-Recorder Kathy Williams, Dominion Voting Systems was approved. Dominion provides voting systems to the majority of California’s counties, Williams told the board. “It’s not going to cost the county any general fund money,” she said about a new system.

Background

Plumas County purchased its current system in 2001, Williams explained. That system has been decertified by state elections officials and it is time for a new secure system.

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To assist with a new system, Williams detailed what the state has offered.

Williams said that the California Secretary of State provided a notice in August 2018 to Plumas County that new state and federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding was available to assist counties. These funds would help counties replace or modernize voting systems.

“Plumas county is eligible for $206,500 to replace our voting system and $10,000 for Cyber Security,” Williams explained.

Through the process, the county was to purchase the system and then seek reimbursement through the grant process, she added.

In late February 2019, the California Secretary of State provided counties with a Notice of Withdrawal of Certification and Conditional Approval of Voting Systems effective in late August. This was the decertification of the present system Plumas County voters have used.

Despite that notice, a follow-up notice explained that counties with elections scheduled between Aug. 27 and Feb. 27, 2020, can be held with the existing voting system.

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Plumas County has two elections scheduled for Nov. 5, she said. These include a Uniform District election and a State Assembly District 1 general election.

“We had three voting system vendors provide presentations and demonstrations of their voting systems,” in May, Williams told supervisors.

Two of the systems were already certified in the state and the third was in the process. “After careful consideration, meeting with Gabriel Hydrick, the county administrator and Gretchen Stuhr, deputy county counsel, we made a decision to select dominion Voting Systems to replace the current voting system,” she said.

This system provides a paper ballot voting system, a fully accessible unit for voters with special needs and an adjudicated component that provides review of ballots if needed. The system also offers a ballot on demand function assuring elections officials that they won’t run out of ballots. “This system is fully certified, not networked and is used in the majority of California counties,” Williams explained.

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To be exact, 32 of California’s 58 counties use the Dominion system.

In additional information, Plumas County currently has 12,176 registered voters.

There were six elections held during the last fiscal year, the most Williams remembers occurring during her years with the department.

Williams also told supervisors that she went to the state and asked if the county could use past unspent funding toward the new system. The state agreed.

“Good job,” said Supervisor Jeff Engel.