Supes near voting machine contract

Nine months after refusing to enter into a $12 million contract for new voting machines, the Board of Supervisors appears ready to approve the deal in the wake of November’s election, which resulted in litigation, hand counting of ballots and yet-to-be certified results.

In February, Elections Director John Arntz advised the Board of Supervisors to approve a four-year contract with a new vendor, Sequoia Voting Systems Inc.

The board’s Budget and Finance Committee, then chaired by Supervisor Chris Daly, instead sided with voting-advocacy groups that said the contract should not be approved unless Sequoia agreed to allow public access to the source code — the program that directs the computers on how to count the votes.

Without “open-source voting” there is no way to be sure how the votes are tallied, leaving elections open to fraud, advocates say.

Since the new vendor was not approved, The City ended up using its existing machines, from Elections Systems and Software, for this November’s election, but because of problems with those machines, the secretary of state imposed restrictions limiting their use and ordered The City to hand count a cross section of ballots.

As a result, The City was unable to certify the votes by this week’s Dec. 4 deadline and had to file for an extension to finish up hand counting. To recover the additional costs for the election, the City Attorney has filed a lawsuit against ES&S, in addition to a $15 million lawsuit filed by the secretary of state over certification concerns with ES&S machines in several counties, including San Francisco.

If the Sequoia contract is approved, the machines would be required to be ready for the February 2008 election, according to the Department of Elections. On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, now chaired by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, sent the four-year $12.5 million contract with Sequoia to the full board for a vote this Tuesday. Board members told The Examiner that they expect the contract to be approved.

“I really don’t think we are ever going to get to the pure concept of open source because I really think the vendors — it’s not in their interests,” Supervisor Tom Ammiano said.

“We’ve got to deal with the crisis today.”

Voting technology that allows public scrutiny of the source code will not be available for several years, Peskin said.

“In the short term, we need a solution. This is the best and only solution that is in front of us,” he said.

jsabatini@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

Just Posted

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

Pregnant women are in the high-risk category currently prioritized for booster shots in San Francisco. (Unai Huizi/Shutterstock)
What pregnant women need to know about COVID and booster shots

Inoculations for immunosuppressed individuals are recommended in the second trimester

Examiner reporter Ben Schneider drives an Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle along Beach Street in Fisherman’s Wharf on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Could San Francisco’s tiny tourist cruisers become the cars of the future?

‘Fun Utility Vehicles’ have arrived in The City

Most Read