Supervisor Wiener to Call for Hearing on Plans to Move San Francisco to Develop Open Source Voting System

Hearing will explore current plans for funding, designing, and implementing a transparent, secure, and publicly viewable elections system to replace current private vendor model

San Francisco — (February 16, 2016) Today, Supervisor Scott Wiener will call for a hearing on San Francisco’s efforts to fund, design, and implement an open source voting system that will provide for more a transparent, secure, and publicly viewable elections system. This builds on previous resolutions passed by the Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Elections Commission that called for the City to develop and fund an open source elections system. At this hearing, the Department of Elections and the Elections Commission will discuss what the budget for the planning and implementation of an open source voting system would be, including budget costs and projected roll-out schedule.

“Secure and transparent elections are one of the bedrock principles of our democracy,” said Supervisor Wiener. “Additionally, a publicly developed system run on commercial off-the shelf hardware can save the city money in the long-term by eliminating the need for expensive, ongoing private vendor contracts. My office has continued to work with the Elections Commission and City staff to determine budget needs and project scope for implementing an open source voting system in San Francisco. I look forward to continuing to work towards this important good government measure.”

Currently, San Francisco contracts out to private vendors to provide voting technology. These vendors require expensive long-term contracts, and run elections on proprietary software and hardware. Open source elections software could be run on off-the-shelf hardware like tablets and printers, which are less expensive than proprietary hardware. The source code, systems design, and other materials used to run the elections system would be publicly available.

In December of 2014, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authored by Supervisor Wiener committing the City towards moving to an open source voting system and requiring a further study of the issue. The Elections Commission then passed a resolution late last year in support of Supervisor Wiener’s resolution, and calling for the Board and the Mayor to initiate and fund a project to start in fiscal year July 1, 2016. The Department of Elections has included funding for the initial stages of developing an open source voting system in this year’s budget. If this money becomes a part of the budget, San Francisco will be taking the first steps to be on track towards having an open source elections system developed within the next 5 years.

“As a technology and good government leader, San Francisco has the chance to improve not just San Francisco elections but to benefit the entire country by creating the first open source voting system — a public system that would be 100% transparent, more flexible, and more affordable to all jurisdictions including our own,” said Chris Jerdonek, Vice President of the San Francisco Elections Commission.

The hearing will take place in March.

The hearing will take place at the Budget Committee in the next few weeks.


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