Election results still unofficial

Ballot-count discrepancies from San Francisco’s November election delayed the certification of the results — which were due Tuesday — forcing city officials to ask a Superior Court judge for a last-minute extension.

State law requires officials to certify elections within 28 days of Election Day. This year, due to problems with The City’s electronic voting machines, stringent counting requirements were handed down by California’s secretary of state, who mandated that The City manually recount a large cross section of ballots.

Tuesday afternoon, the Elections Department went to the court and obtained an extension — until next Tuesday — to continue the handcount.

In a one-time authorization to use the electronic voting equipment — provided by Election Systems and Software — California Secretary of State Debra Bowen required city elections officials to recount 10 percent of polling places and 25 percent of absentee ballots delivered, according to John Arntz, director of elections for The City.

If the results of that hand count deviate by more than 10 percent from the margin tabulated by the electronic devices, the hand-count must continue with additional ballots, moving at 5 percent chunks, Arntz said.

“We’re hoping to get this done by Friday,” Arntz said.

The four ballot measures with discrepancies are Measures A, E, F and G — the most notable being Measure A, the Muni reform effort. The discrepancies are not likely to threaten the unofficial results of the election, Arntz said.

“They could, but the pattern that we’re seeing, they haven’t,” Arntz said.

While cities are required by law to certify within 28 days, the law does not delineate any consequences for failing to make that deadline, said Nicole Winger, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state.

“Secretary Bowen’s highest priority is accurate election results,” Winger said.

The news that The City would not make its deadline came a day before the Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to take up a new four-year, $12.66 million contract with another vendor — Sequoia Voting Systems — to count ballots.

It is expected that the contract will pass the committee and go to the full Board of Supervisors for a decision, according to a legislative aide for Board President Aaron Peskin, who recently revived the Sequoia contract approval process, which stalled in February.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, however, said there are still concerns about the security of the Sequoia machines as well as the readiness for ranked-choice voting.

Sequoia will demonstrate its system to the public today in City Hall, Room 278, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the Budget and Finance Committee will meet at 1 p.m.

dsmith@examiner.com

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