A potential new voting system may not guarantee San Franciscans night-of election results, but agonizing, eight-day waits for a new mayor are likely behind us. That scenario unfolded in June, mostly thanks to the sheer amount of mail-in ballots that streamed in days after the polls had closed. But this past week, voters and the San Francisco Department of Elections had the chance to engineer a smoother, less tedious process on several fronts. For future elections, Dominion Voting Systems has an alternative that will allow voters to select their choices on a huge Android tablet complete with ADA-friendly accessibility options, a language bar, a review page, and companion printer to track their choices on paper. To extend the ranked-choice voting confusion, voters can rank up to 10 candidates on the screen. “This system is much more versatile than the existing system,” says Larry Korb, a sales engineer for Dominion.
Electronic voting may reflexively trigger fear of placing trust in digital systems — especially as Russian influence arguably goes unchecked. But voting wouldn’t be 100 percent electronic; whether it’s completed with the touch of a fingerprint or mailed-in with pen marks, every ballot would have a paper copy and digital scan for the Department of Elections to keep.
If a ballot needs a human review — for instance, to verify which candidate was intended for outside-the-bubble pen marks — it can be selected onscreen, and that history will be tied to the ballot. Every single ballot could also be posted online for the public to review, offering greater transparency.
Like the basement in City Hall, each precinct will come with a machine to scan the paper votes, which takes about 10 seconds per ballot. The machine stores the results on a memory card, which will be physically taken to the Department of Elections so as to leave the internet out of the equation.