FROM:   Kim Alexander
DATE:   March 21, 2003
RE:   CVF-NEWS voting tech round-up

Hi Folks:

In this issue of CVF-NEWS:

* Public invited to Sacramento voting equipment demo
* CA touchscreen voting task force update
* Voting Modernization Board meets, disperses bond funds
* Voter-verified paper trail in the news

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* Public invited to Sacramento voting equipment demo

Sacramento County is one of California's nine "Votomatic"-style punchcard counties that must replace its prescored punchcard voting system by March 2004. Sacramento issued a "Request for Proposals" last month for new equipment that will replace the county's paper-based voting machines. Sacramento asked prospective vendors to submit proposals for voting equipment that includes the voter-verified paper audit trail feature, as well as proposals without one.

Sacramento county has an 11-person team that is reviewing the vendors' proposals. As part of this process, Sacramento has asked each of the proposing companies to demonstrate their system to the public; the county will gather public opinion through questionnaires. This demonstration is taking place on Thursday, March 27th. Here are the details:

DATE: Thursday, March 27
TIME: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sacramento County Administration Center, in downtown Sacramento, 700 H Street, First Floor Lobby (facing I Street)

Five vendors have submitted proposals -- Hart Intercivic, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Sequoia, Advanced Voting Solutions (formerly Shoup), and Avante. Sacramento previously tested Avante's touchscreen units with a voter-verified paper audit trail in the county's November 2002 early voting project. (I was one of approximately 1,800 voters who cast ballots on that system.) I understand that several vendors will be showing systems with a voter-verified paper audit trail, and I'm eager to see what the different companies are developing. Please come if you can -- I'll be there around noon.

* * * * * * * * * *
* CA touchscreen voting task force update

The Ad Hoc Touch Screen Voting Task Force established by California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has now held two meetings. The next meeting will take place Monday, March 24 in Sacramento. The task force is meeting weekly through April, and is aiming to release preliminary recommendations before the end of next month. A list of the task force members is available at

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* Voting Modernization Board meets, disperses bond funds

On Wednesday, March 19 the California Voting Modernization Board met to disperse Proposition 41 voting equipment funds to San Francisco and Solano counties. The board awarded $2.4 million to San Francisco for reimbursement of the county's ES&S optical scan voting system, purchased in 2000. San Francisco is also in the process of implementing its new instant runoff voting system, which is scheduled to go into use starting with the November 2003 local elections. The county's vendor is in the process of revising the county's software to facilitate ranked voting choices made on paper ballots. This revised software will need to be tested and certified by the state before use and some are worried there is not ample time to do this before November. San Francisco's election department is making plans now to count their optical scan paper ballots by hand if the software isn't ready in time to use for automated vote counting of ranked choices. For more news see this March 18 SF Chronicle article,

Members of the Voting Modernization Board expressed concern that in awarding $2.4 million for San Francisco's optical scan system, the county won't have enough money left to purchase touchscreens. San Francisco's acting election chief, John Arntz told the board that the county believes it will have enough Prop 41 funds left over to place one touchscreen unit in each polling place to comply with federal disability requirements, while retaining their optical scan units for use by other polling place voters.

The board also approved $2.3 million in funding to Solano County, which is in the process of purchasing 1,171 touchscreen machines from Diebold. Solano is one of the nine decertified prescored punch card counties and must replace its voting system by March 2004.

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* Voter-verified paper trail in the news

There has been some thoughtful commentary on voting technology issues in recent weeks that CVF has been posting on our "What We're Reading" page,, as well as on our Voting Technology Resources page, at

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Weintraub wrote a column titled, "Voting without paper is perilous" that was published in Sunday's March 16th "Forum" section, online at San Francisco Chronicle technology columnist Henry Norr wrote a long piece published on March 3 titled "Scientists question electronic voting", online at 22767.DTL&type=tech. Electionline director Doug Chapin also recently weighed in with a voting technology commentary, titled "Certainty is Overrated", online

That's all the news for now. Have a great weekend!

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation,
(916) 441-2494

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This page was first published on March 21, 2003 | Last updated on March 21, 2003
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