Friday, September 19, 2008

San Francisco Election Looms, Voting Machines Not Yet Approved for Instant Runoff

San Francisco's elections chief, John Arntz, expects the largest voter turnout in city history this November. Unfortunately, the city's voting machines may not be approved in time. If the machines aren't certified to count the IRV contests, then the seven supervisorial races will have to be counted by hand. That could take weeks, says this article:

Voting concerns loom with election nearing
By Beth Winegarner Examiner Staff Writer 9/17/08

Elections director John Arntz is always nervous when election season looms, but in November he’s anticipating the largest voter turnout in San Francisco history — and those voters may be using new voting machines that still have not been certified by the state. ...

...“If the touch-screen machines aren’t certified, paper ballots will be here and voting will continue,” Arntz said. “But someone who required disabled-accessible equipment wouldn’t be able to vote.”

...San Francisco signed a $12.6 million contract in December to purchase the new electronic voting machines from Oakland-based Sequoia. Last November, local ballots had to be hand counted after machines from The City’s previous vendor, Election Systems & Software, were not certified in time, which led to a $3.5 million lawsuit settlement between San Francisco and ES&S.

If Sequoia’s ranked-choice software is not approved, Bowen will allow San Francisco to use Sequoia machines to tally everything except the seven supervisorial races, according to Arntz.

Due to the complicated nature of ranked-choice tabulations, hand-counting ballots to determine the winners among 51 Board of Supervisors candidates in seven districts could take weeks. If that happens, Sequoia has agreed to pay for the hand count, Arntz said.

...more at the link