If San Francisco wants an open-source voting system that supporters say would be more reliable and transparent than current proprietary machines, it could cost between $11.5 million and $27.8 million, according to a new consultant’s report. The report comes as supporters of an open-source system, which includes the Elections Commission, are calling on Mayor Mark Farrell to help fund the effort. An open-source voting system means the software used to tabulate the ballots is open to public view. Anyone with computer knowledge can examine the software code and look for vulnerabilities or bugs.
Current voting systems are proprietary and do not allow the public to access the software. By moving away from them, San Francisco would no longer have to rely on a few voting machine companies, but instead match hardware and software as it saw fit. Proponents say open-source voting will bring more transparency and, ultimately, cost savings.
There is a push at the state level, led by the nonprofit California Clean Money Campaign, to get matching state funding to help San Francisco develop the first-of-its-kind voting system, which could then be used by other jurisdictions.