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LA County OKs Open-Source Election System

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office has certified the first open-source, publicly owned election technology for use in the county.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office has certified the first open-source, publicly owned election technology for use in Los Angeles County — “a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.”

The system is known as Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Tally Version 1.0. Its certification will allow Los Angeles County to use its newly designed Vote By Mail (VBM) ballots in the November election.

County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, in the news release from Padilla's office, said the new system will ensure accurate and secure counting of ballots.

Logan’s office will begin distributing the new ballots on Oct. 9. Each voter’s packet will include a ballot, a postage-paid return envelope, a secrecy sleeve and an “I Voted” sticker.

“As part of the certification process, the system went through rigorous functional and security testing conducted by the Secretary of State’s staff and a certified voting system test lab,” Padilla’s office said. “The testing ensured the system’s compliance with California and federal laws, including the California Voting System Standards (CVSS).”

In a proclamation authorizing use of VSAP, Padilla notes:

  • Parallel systems will be separated by an air gap to prevent infection;
  • A physically isolated duplicate system, “reformatted after every election to guard against the possibility of infection, is used solely to read memory cards containing vote results,” and;
  • No alteration or substitution of the system will be allowed unless Padilla signs off.
  • “No network connections to any device not directly used and necessary for voting system functions may be established. Communication by or with any component of the voting system by wireless or modem transmission is prohibited at any time.”
Additional specifications are available here.

Padilla noted that additional changes are coming to Los Angeles County in 2020 under the Voters Choice Act.  

Separately, Logan signed a contract on June 13 with Smartmatic USA, making it the VSAP prime contractor and systems integrator. Smartmatic USA will help Logan's office in managing the manufacture and implemention of components scheduled for introduction in the March 2020 California presidential primary election.

Following a nine-month bidding and evaluation process, Smartmatic USA was selected after being scored by technical, legal and financial evaluators in accordance with Los Angeles County’s competitive procurement policies. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the contract June 12.

Smartmatic USA and its team will be responsible for systems integration, engineering and manufacturing of the system components that were designed by and for Los Angeles County voters with a focus on security, accessibility and usability.

This story was originally published by Techwire

Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C.