San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Elections Department issued a request for proposals in November asking vendors for bids on a modern voting system to replace its equipment that dates to 1999. Three requests were received by the January 4 deadline, and a County team is reviewing the bids.
Tony Aquilino feeds ballots into a counting machine inside the Marin County Elections Department.
“The current system has worked really well for 20 years,” said Registrar of Voters Lynda Roberts. “But the hardware is old, and many spare parts are no longer made. Our residents deserve to know the results of an election as promptly as technology allows.”
A vendor demonstration day is slated for 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, February 13, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, 1010 Northgate Drive in San Rafael. It will be an opportunity for residents to see the three bidders’ machines, ask questions of the bidders, and provide feedback to County staff.
It’s anticipated that a new system would be installed in time for the November 2019 election – allowing time to ensure smooth elections in the anticipated high-turnout March 2020 primary and November 2020 presidential elections.
Roberts said 70 percent or more of registered voters are choosing to vote-by-mail, so a faster central counting system would help speed the count of those ballots on and after Election Day. In the November 2018 midterm election, 33,000 ballots were delivered to the Elections Department on Election Day, either by mail, voters dropping ballots at polling places, or bringing them to the office at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael.
“Many verification processes mandated by law are still manual, however,” Roberts said. “It will still take time to prepare ballots for counting, for example.”
The County has a combination of federal and state funding available to lease or purchase the new system, and staff will consider purchase or lease terms that preserve options for more efficient voting models in the future. Staff plans to present an analysis and recommendation to the Board this spring. The County’s procurement office is overseeing the bid process.
Roberts added that by law each polling place must have one accessible voting machine. The current accessible machines also are antiquated and must be replaced as well, she said.
California counties may choose from three state-certified vendors who offer voting systems. A team consisting of staff from the Elections Department, the Information Services and Technology Department and the County Administrator’s Office will collaborate with members of the Marin County Election Advisory Committee to review and rank the three bids.
The Election Advisory Committee was established in 2006 to provide feedback and advice from resident members on issues that affect voters, such as voter participation and election integrity, as well as learning about election processes and laws that impact the procedures of the Elections Department
The Elections Department is in Suite 121, Marin Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael. For more information, call the Elections Department at 415-473-6441 or follow it on Facebook.