Registrar of Voters
Voting Systems Subcommittee Meeting
Friday, February 26, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center
Representing the Elections Advisory Committee
Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Bob Richard, Cat Woods
Representing the Elections Department
Tony Aquilino, Melvin Briones, Colleen Ksanda, Lynda Roberts
Lynda Roberts opened the meeting, and thanked the members for attending.
Review Central Counting vs. Polling Place Counting of Ballots
A major part of the decision about a new voting system hinges on whether or not to move to central counting of ballots versus polling place counting since this would impact the amount of equipment purchased. Following up the subcommittee’s meeting last July, the Elections Department members of the subcommittee met in August to review the question. Ms. Roberts distributed copies of a list comparing the two options.
Ms. Roberts asked for feedback about making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors versus presenting the information and asking for direction.
It may be better to make the decision about central counting or polling place counting when there are more voting systems from which to choose. A decision could be based on consensus of the committee or the Registrar’s judgment after listening to all input.
The Board will most likely want or expect a recommendation. The Registrar could approach this by reviewing general principals about central counting and polling place counting; talking about the process and findings used to arrive at a decision, such as input from various sources (staff, subcommittee and full committee, other registrars); degree of consensus (“committee recommends” vs. “I recommend”); and ranking voting systems. It is legitimate for the Registrar to have a personal opinion and state it as such.
Committee members suggested that underlying issues still need further discussion and input from the sector of the community concerned about election integrity. Perhaps someone from that sector should come and talk with the committee.
Support for counting at polling places include reduced opportunity for fraud because of independent counting at the polls in front of the voter. This independent count increases voter confidence. Mistakes on a ballot, such as over-votes, can be caught at the scanner thus giving the voter a chance to fix the mistake.
The California Election Protection Network (CEPN) wants to go back to hand counting ballots, and their integrity concerns include vote by mail and vote centers. There are also concerns about private vendors and proprietary voting systems. However, there seems to be no discussion through the Election Verification Network that people are advocating for polling place counting.
Is the cost of equipment a serious consideration that would prohibit having a machine at every polling place? Marin County Elections Department has grant money available for the next purchase, but at a time in the future when equipment needs to be replaced again, local funds would have to be used. At this time, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be additional federal funding in the future, although there may be action at the state level to designate funding.
Given the discussions about this topic and information available to date, it appears that the decision is converging toward the central count model. The subcommittee can assist in planning for this change pending availability of the right equipment.
The subcommittee decided to read more research about the issue and meet again when there is something new to report about equipment.
The meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m.