How I Would Decide Who Should Be Our Next Registrar of Voters

In 2 hours, the Board of Supervisors will begin day 2 of interviews of applicants to fill Cathy Darling Allen’s office of County Clerk/Registrar of Voters (ROV). The ROV is an elected role that oversees all county elections, among other responsibilities.

Darling Allen was most recently elected in June 2022 to serve a 4-year term intended to last through December 2026. However, in February, she announced that she would retire in May due to health reasons. I wish the Board could appoint an interim ROV and then allow us to decide who would fulfill the remainder of Darling Allen’s term at the ballot box in November, but, unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors is required to appoint a replacement.

39 people applied. 9 were selected for interviews by anonymous votes of Supervisors Garman and Crye and Director of Support Services Monica Fugitt. After round 1 interviews yesterday, each Board member could select one candidate to continue onto day 2. 4 candidates moved on to round 2:

As the Board considers which of these 4 to appoint to the ROV office, I want to tell you – not who I would pick – but how I would decide who to choose.

First, a principle: The Board should appoint someone who best reflects the people’s preferences, not their own preferences – because this is an elected position. How could the Board determine the people’s preference? The 2022 ROV election, public comment and correspondence on the topic, and if they had chosen to conduct one, a public opinion poll.

Here are my 4 non-negotiables:

  • Detail-oriented and strong process management skills: The job of administering elections with integrity is one of managing details and managing very detailed and methodical processes. This is not a job for everyone. It’s a job for someone who obsesses over details, who loves to create a system and then follow it every time. Does the candidate demonstrate a career of attention to detail? Does the candidate have experience managing complex processes?
  • Experience managing people: The ROV manages 20-25 employees and many more, including volunteers, during elections. People management is a skill, not something that automatically comes to high-performing individual contributors. I would like to see the ROV have at least 5 years of management experience and experience managing over 5 people.
  • Ability to perform well under pressure: Administering elections is an inherently high-pressure job, particularly in the last 4 years. The ROV is under significant time pressure with many deadlines that cannot be missed. And the ROV is also under continuous public pressure. I would like to see the ROV have leadership experience in an environment with significant time pressure and experience responding to questions from the public and press.
  • Political independence: As the primary official responsible for ensuring our elections are fair and unbiased, it’s critical that the ROV cares more about administering elections than adhering to or promoting any political ideology or political group. Importantly, the ROV must not be beholden to the Board of Supervisors or other elected officials in Shasta County because the ROV oversees their elections. The ROV must be willing to disagree with and think independently from the Board (and I mean that for when I’m on the Board too).

Here are my 2 strong preferences for our next ROV:

  • Experience administering elections: We have a massive presidential general election in under 5 months with many election-related deadlines weeks and months before Election Day. If the Board’s selection causes the acting ROV (Francescut) and/or several other employees in the department to leave, a new, inexperienced ROV could find themselves in a very tough situation heading into November.
  • Intimate knowledge of California and federal election laws: 2020 taught us that every state has different election laws and that election laws are many and are complicated. Given enough time, many smart people could learn these laws and implement them accurately, but the new ROV doesn’t have much time.

I’m not going to tell you who I believe best fits these 6 criteria. If you agree these criteria are important, then you can evaluate each candidate against them by reviewing their resumes (linked above) and their interviews before the Board (to be posted here soon).

 


What criteria would you use to choose our next ROV? Who would you appoint?

Here are some of your thoughts on my question. If you’d like to share your thoughts, please email me at matt@mattplummer.com.

Cathy Darling Allen has esteemed state and national recognition. She is deeply respected by her colleagues and has shown leadership locally, at the state level and nationally.

At Cathy Darling Allen’s retirement party, the clerk from LA County stated that he was hopeful of a gathering to nominate her to the role of Secretary of State. She recently received the Democracy Hero Award by CA Common Sense. I wonder who she would recommend for the appointment?

I’ve witnessed the dedication and expertise of Joanna Francescut. She has 10 years of proven experience working in this county weathering the oppression and scathing accusation against the former Clerk and the department. She has the respect and support to the appointment of her subordinates. Despite all the challenges the department has faced she has remained steadfast.

No other person applying for the position has had the “hands on” 10 years of experience in the Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters office like she has achieved.

In conversations with Francescut, I could sense her dedication to democracy and ensuring a fair and trustworthy election process based upon the will of the people. She has shown integrity in the election process and the capacity to stand for democracy even in the face of unfounded conspiracy theories fears about a corrupt election process in Shasta County.

I support the appointment of Joanna Francescut.


Hi Matt, the appointment of toller over Joanna Francescut who has 16 years of service in the  ROV office is wrong. The 3 supervisors mega far right is political and I hope illegal. Their appointee has no experience to handle the ROV and believes in hand counting!! And will go against the California state law against hand counting of votes! Can anything be done?


  • I agree with your criteria.
  • I would prefer we vote on the ROV in November.
  • If that is not possible, I prefer the current acting ROV for the sake of stability.
  • I don’t want an ROV who has an ideological agenda.

We all now know that Tom Toller has been selected by the board majority- someone many believe is not qualified to jump start into the position. It is a sad day in Shasta County.  I would like to get your opinion if the code below applies in some fashion to retain Joanna Francescut? 

Section 25304.5 – Death or resignation of person elected to office 

If on the first Monday after January 1 following a general election the person elected to an elective county office has resigned or died, the board of supervisors shall provide that the office which was made vacant shall be filled at the next regularly scheduled election. The board of supervisors may appoint a person to temporarily carry out the duties of any office to be filled by such an election and that person shall serve until the results of the election are declared.

The person elected shall serve for the remainder of the term which began on the first Monday after January 1 immediately preceding the election.


Here are my thoughts on the ROV appointment:    JOANNA FRANCESCUTT


Here are my thoughts the ROV appointment:  any one crye or Jones supports I am against.


Pretty simple; Retired Cathy Darling Allen, has been voted into office by the people sense 2004! Her term was not over!  She was not elected to represent individual districts, but to represent Shasta County!  Obviously, the people felt she had done a respectable job and trusted her!  She supports Joanna L Francescut, who has 16 years of experience, 5 years as an Assistant Deportment Head, a candidate that has the trust of Cathy Darling Allen the individual the people have repeatedly elected to office!


Here are my thoughts the ROV appointment: I totally agree with your criteria, and believe that only Joanna Francescut fills the bill. Unfortunately, with Kevin Crye railroading his own candidate through now and at every other opportunity, we’re unlikely to get anything but another “yes man” agreeing with whatever Kevin et al wants. I am so discouraged!


My question to you is now that the corrupt 3 on the BOS appointed a corrupt registrar of voters, what can you do to rectify the situation when you come on board in November? I’m tired of this shit and pissed that Shasta county citizens aren’t raising hell.


Your criteria were spot on. Crye chose to serve his own interests and chose possibly the worst candidate.

My fear is Mr Toller faked being moderate in order to get appointed. Once he takes office, I worry it won’t be long before his true colors start showing.

That would be bad for the presidential election, but I’m not sure how bad. I could definitely see Crye exacting quid pro quo and demanding the vote count be delayed, recounted, etc etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum to subvert the will of constituents. I. Luke also see him orchestrating something worse. He’s demonstrated many times he has no regard for constituents with diverse points of view, and I certainly don’t trust him on any level to do what’s best for the county.

The minimum I expect is that the ROV be required to follow election law, and in no way do I think it’s fair to Joanna to have to train him. Imagine that: you’re the most qualified candidate, the only experienced candidate and you’re denied the job due to partisan politics then asked to train the dope they hired instead of you. A slap in the face. If it were me, my resignation would be written and delivered before the end of business today.

This is a disaster for Shasta County. I hope there’s something that can be done to mitigate this extremely counterproductive and demoralizing decision.


Based on your sound criteria, Joanna Francescut is the sole candidate who is fully qualified.


Here are my thoughts the ROV appointment:  God help this county.


I have volunteered for two elections.

My candidate would match the criteria you have outlined.

My first criteria is that the person has experience working on elections where there are a similar number of voters as Shasta County.

The person must demonstrate the ability to understand and apply the current state and national rules for elections.

The person needs the ability to defend the California and US election laws against partisan interests.


Here are my thoughts the ROV appointment:   I would go along with Rickert’s choice if I had any say in the matter. Anyone who Crye or Jones would consider as an appointee would fall into the crazy nutjob category just by dint of their endorsement.  I am sure that anyone endorsed by these strident bullies would be birds of a feather. 

I think you are right on point regarding the requirements of our next County ROV. You share all of my thoughts, but expressed them much better than I could.

In my opinion, Joanna is the only one who meets all of those qualifications. She is incredibly knowledgeable and will follow election legislation as it is written rather than how she wants it to be. And she will listen to the will of Shasta County people.

Thank you for being so astute in understanding the importance of this appointment and the boundaries of your upcoming position. Your district had it right when they elected you.

Let’s just hope the Supervisors will make an intelligent choice rather than an emotional one.


Here are my thoughts the ROV appointment:

Use the assistant ROV


Joanna is the only person who meets the necessary criteria. How she was treated by the Gang was obscene 


I agree with your assessment entirely. It is the correct approach. However, I fear that this politically loaded Board will choose someone who is NOT politically independent, but instead in line to their way of thinking.


You are correct on all points for the ROV position. And, a popular vote by knowledgeable people is truly powerful; and therefor, very democratic, but we have a political residency in Shasta County that tends to vote the way their forefathers did in the past: vote for the “good old boys” or the ones you know and “like”. There is a growing resentment for knowledge because of a long history of just “what I believe” as the standard. It is safe for me, like, “ignorance is bliss”. 

My point is, hopefully, people will “listen” to people, like you, who talks the truth and is strong. These people that have a powerful self-image that can handle and grow from both “the good, bad, and ugly” of mass media, “just say anything to get votes”. “Tough times never last but tough people do”.  Keep your communications open and going as they are. It shows your profound “caring”. 


I agree completely with your criteria for ROV especially the last one..no political affiliations or obligations to any BOS. It is imperative that there is no hint of any party tendencies. And finally each candidate should answer the question about the 2020 election and January 6!!!!


I agree with your criteria although I don’t believe that is possible with this board unless God steps in.


Our current Assistant Joann is the most quailified.


Joanna Francescut. She ran the last election primarily and did an outstanding job.


There is NO substitute for knowledge, experience, dedication, education and an overall compassion for executing your responsibilities to doing your job.  I know first hand learning to do a job takes time and the desire to learn from those who have done this job before me.  I believe there is no other person to be chosen for this job but the person who has learned from the best their predecessors.. People will vote for the person who will do the best job for everyone not a select few, their personal views must be put aside at all times while performing their job.  Experience Pricelss…


Should Shasta County be the last county turning in voter outcome? The hand tally is good but should be completed the same day as election. Thank you.


The criteria approach to all such decisions is the objective way to go as well as politically smart for you.


Your criteria are sound.  Following them, I’d select Joanna. Thank you for soliciting input and keep up your good work. 


The county already has in place someone who knows election law and has been doing the ROV job competently. It seems ludicrous to waste county time and money on the interview process. They should appoint Francescut until our next election. No one else has experience. Some candidates have openly expressed doubt in the election process without quoting credible source.

I fear without a competent, objective ROV, our elections will be compromised. 


I have no doubt that the maga majority will appoint an election denier.  It won’t be Joanna I am sorry to say.   Their political agenda always takes precedent over what is good for our county.   

That was all for show when Crye and Kelstrom didn’t choose Clint ?

They already know who they want.


I listened to the BOS meeting and was very upset that they would even think of selecting a person from 

OUTSIDE the USA

Two of the others are from Outside of our area telling me they are getting away from something place that

does not want them, so we should not want them here.

 

I am hoping that when you get in office that the position will be returned to a VOTE OF THE PEOPLE 

and not a position that is appointed by the Board

We the people will NEVER have Trust in the position as long as it is controlled by a Five Member Board