City attorney demands cash, new voting machines

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Department of Elections Director John Arntz issued a notice today charging the company that supplied the city with voting machines used in Tuesday's election with

material breach of contract.

Election Systems & Software's alleged breach of contract comes in part from the company not notifying California Secretary of State Debra Bowen of changes made to their AutoMARK ballot marking devices. They lost the machine's certification but did not inform the city of San Francisco or other districts using the machine.

Every ballot will have to be hand counted due to the lack of certification of the machines, according to Herrera and Arntz.

“Five counties out there thought they were buying the AutoMARK,” said Arntz. “They didn't know there was an AutoMARK 2.”

Ballots that had marks made with the wrong kind of pens were kicked out of the machines. Additionally, ranked-choice ballots that did not receive enough votes, like the mayor's race, which asked voters to include a second and third choice, were kicked out of the machines.

Nearly 95 percent of San Francisco ballots have been denied by machines, said Arntz. He said starting today, his department will be counting votes 24 hours a day for at least a week.

The city's contract with ES&S began in December 1999, according to Herrera, with additional amendments to continue the contract each year since.

Herrera has given the voting machine company 10 days to supply new machines and pay for any costs accrued by the additional man power needed to count ballots.

Arntz estimated that the cost so far is approximately $300,000.

The city originally bought 565 AutoMARK machines for more than $3 million, said Herrera.

Almost 600 machines had to be borrowed from Contra Costa County, Herrera said. But that won't be an option for the February election, when Contra Costa County will need the machines.

Herrera said he did not want to announce the decision before today to avoid affecting voter confidence for the election.

— Bay City News

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A lab worker from the Medical Examiner’s Office was arrested with an evidence bag of methamphetamine in August. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Audit over lab worker meth arrest finds medical examiner is missing drugs

An audit of the Medical Examiner’s Office prompted by the arrest of… Continue reading

City officials argue that the dominance of a few third-party delivery services gives them disproportionate leverage against restaurants. (Courtesy photo)
Cap on food delivery app fees may remain until indoor dining allowed at full capacity

Proposal seen as financial relief for restaurants struggling in pandemic

A voting station will be open in Portsmouth Square in Chinatown from Oct. 31 until Nov. 3 to let residents drop off ballots and provide assistance to SRO residents. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown voting station to help SRO residents make their voices heard

In a bid to boost voting access for single-room-occupancy tenants in Chinatown,… Continue reading

Public observation pier at the new Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline.
New regional park officially opens next to Bay Bridge toll plaza

The East Bay Regional Park District opened a new shoreline park Wednesday,… Continue reading

Most Read