Ballot-counting will be around-the-clock

It will be an around-the-clock operation beginning Nov. 6, with thousands of ballots being counted 24 hours a day by city staff in hopes of getting the majority of votes processed within one week, San Francisco’s election chief told Mayor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday. The City’s voting machines have been conditionally certified this election. The strict restrictions for their use will force a time-consuming visual inspection of all ballots submitted in the upcoming Nov. 6 election.

The tedious job falls on the shoulders of the Department of Elections and its director, John Arntz, who told the mayor Tuesday that the department will work 24/7 and seek to have 65 percent of all absentee ballots and 75 percent of all polling-place ballots counted by the Friday following Election Day.

Last month, The City learned that the central computers at the main election office could be operated to tabulate ballots, but not the 561 machines used at the precincts.

Because the state requires San Francisco officials to also visually inspect all ballots before putting them through the central system, Arntz said The City would only be able to count about 10,000 votes a day.

With an anticipated 200,000-plus ballots, Arntz says it will be three weeks before all the ballots were tabulated.

At a special meeting of the Elections Commission on Wednesday night, commissioners and members of the public said they didn’t need a fast count and that they were more concerned about an accurate and transparent count.

Arntz told commissioners that he hasn’t yet calculated the cost for the careful counting. In his memo to Newsom, Arntz noted that the state is requiring the company that provides The City with its electronic voting equipment, Election Systems and Software, or ES&S, to pick up the tab.

The Examiner first reported the potential disaster in May, shortly after Secretary of State Debra Bowen — whose office oversees elections — sent a letter to ES&S, to say her office would not certify the equipment. Bowen’s spokesperson told The Examiner in July that the ES&S system is “seriously flawed.”

The City needs to find a long-term solution, otherwise it will be in the same boat again come the February 2008 election, Newsom said Wednesday.

beslinger@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

Just Posted

Cabernet sauvignon grapes sat in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
<ins></ins>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — seen in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday — touted Congressional Democrats’ infrastructure bill in San Francisco on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
Pelosi touts infrastructure bill as it nears finish line

Climate change, social safety net among major priorities of Democrats’ 10-year funding measure

Most Read