Smooth election reported despite equipment problems

Problems with machinery, personnel and materials plagued most of The City’s polling places Tuesday, according to an Elections Department report.

But even though 356 of The City’s 561 polling places reported some kind of problem Tuesday, elections chief John Arntz said the process went smoothly overall. “As far as the [elections] department was concerned, this was a very good election. I thought we prepared well for it and we executed it well,” Arntz said Friday.

The main problem reported in Tuesday’s election was faulty voting machinery. The department reported 185 issues with Eagle vote-counting machines, and about 50 issues with the AutoMark machines that serve disabled voters. Arntz said those totals are about 3 percent higher than the equipment problems recorded in June. June’s election saw about 3 percent more equipment problems than in November 2005, according to the department.

“The Eagles are old. It’s old equipment. They weren’t the latest, most modern equipment when San Francisco purchased them 6 years ago,” Arntz said. The City will soon sign a contract with Sequoia Voting Systems of Alameda, which will replace the machines currently provided by Election Systems and Software.

In addition to faulty equipment, Tuesday’s elections suffered from a lack of translated materials, according to the advocacy group Chinese for Affirmative Action. That group monitored 96 polling places that, because of the precincts’ population, were required to have bilingual materials and poll workers available. Of those, 44 did not have the bilingual voter information packet, CAA found.

amartin@examiner.com

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