San Joaquin County, Calif., to Implement New Voting System

In an effort to ensure the highest level of security and transparency, the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters plans to implement a new voting system, developed by Hart InterCivic Inc., that meets state standards.

by Wes Bowers, Lodi News-Sentinel / September 9, 2019
Shutterstock/Eileen Salazar

(TNS) — In an effort to ensure the highest level of security and transparency, the San Joaquin County, Calif., Registrar of Voters plans to implement a new voting system that meets state standards.

Registrar Melinda Dubroff said the county’s current system was decertified by the Secretary of State earlier this year.

As a result, her office was charged with finding a new system that complies with California Voting System Standards, she said.

“The system we’ve been using was accurate and secure, never connected to the Internet,” she said. “The difference now is that this new system gives us a higher level of encrypted data. So, whether the data is in transit or at rest, there’s even less of a chance that it can be tampered with. It’s bringing the equipment into the next generation to secure our votes.”

The new system, developed by Hart InterCivic, Inc., is never connected to the Internet, and no computers or other electronic devices that have been connected to the Internet may be connected to it.

The new equipment consists of not just the vote collection machines where residents insert their ballots, but touch-screen terminals that can print ballots for voters, as well as components that can create ballot designs and print more ballots on site if needed.

Dubroff hopes to have the new system in place and operational by the March 3, 2020 presidential primary election.

On election day, voters will still be provided paper ballots. No votes will be stored on electronic machines at polling places.

©2019 the Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Voters who are unable to use a pen to mark a ballot will be able to use a touch screen to make their selections. The touch screen device will then print a full paper ballot so voters can turn them in. Votes will not be stored in the touch screen.

There were just 0two voting system vendors in California that met state requirements, Dubroff said, and Hart’s system is the only one that will allow election officers to print blank ballots should polling places run out on election day.

She said over time, the new system should help her office count ballots more quickly and efficiently to report results after the polls close.

In addition, Dubroff said the new system should improve voter confidence and turnout.

“A lot of members of the public I’ve spoken with have expressed concern in recent years about the security of the entire election process,” she said. “If voters are not confident (about election security), they won’t turn out to vote.”

While foreign interference in the nation’s elections have generated heated debates about voting security, Dubroff said voter confidence, or lack thereof, has been a concern for Registrars prior to 2016.

“I think people are concerned the votes they are casting are not being counted correctly, and I think people have always had concerns about (voter) eligibility,” she said. “Certainly in the last couple of years the issue has come to the forefront of people’s minds. It’s something they read about on a daily or weekly basis.”

However, Dubroff said there has not been any proven interference to any voting system in the country or on registration rolls.

She urges people to obtain all voting information from trusted sources, such as the www.sjgov.org/department/rov or www.sos.ca.gov.

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will consider approving an agreement with Hart InterCivic, Inc. in the amount of $2.51 million at its Tuesday meeting.

If approved, the agreement will be valid Sept. 16, 2019 to Sept. 16, 2022.

©2019 the Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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