San Francisco is expected today to extend a voting machine contract for two years, even as The City plans to switch over to an open source voting system. An update on those open source voting plans are expected to be provided during the upcoming budget process before the Board of Supervisors later this year as the board is expected to approve the extension today. In the meantime, John Arntz, director of the Elections Department, said The City needs to extend the contract with Dominion, formerly known as Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc., for the two scheduled upcoming elections in 2018 – the Statewide Primary Election on June 5, 2018, and the General Election on Nov. 6, 2018. The two-year contract extension from Dec. 11, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2018, totals $2.3 million, for a total of $21 million since The City first entered into an agreement with the voting machine company in 2007 through a competitively bid process. There is also a chance there may be a special November election through a local signature gathering effort.
For extending the contract for two more years, The City is waiving the competitive bidding requirement. The City has allocated in the current budget $300,000 to plan for switching over to an open source voting system.
“According to [John} Arntz, this system will not be ready for at least two years given the complexity of the project, as well as the time needed to receive approval by the California Secretary of State,” according to budget analyst Harvey Rose’s report on the proposed contract extension. “In terms of the current status of the project, Mr. Arntz states that the Department of Technology is currently preparing specifications for hiring a consultant, who will scope out the project requirements and plan for developing an open source voting system.”
The clock is ticking on the open source voting effort because Arntz said that the current system is becoming obsolete and in two years he plans to competitively bid for the new line of voting equipment if open source voting isn’t finalized by December 2018.