San Francisco Commentary

I have received several emails today about the San Francisco ballot counting that I think are very interesting.

One of my colleagues wrote that San Francisco “is a wonderful case of what is wrong with election reform, now 7 years after the Florida debacle. For whatever reason (and the reasons are legion), San Francisco is now in a position to ignore a series of best practices in administering elections. Here are several well-established best practices they are apparently being required to ignore:

1. precinct scanning: Numerus studies have shown that precinct scanning reduces voter errors over central scanning. The SF procedures guarantee that more votes will be left uncounted as intended.

2. protracted counting: A century and a half of paper ballot voting teaching us that the faster you can count an election, the less likely you get fraud. While there is no evidence of roving bands of ballot stealers in Baghdad-by-the-Bay, there is no more tempting target for election defrauders than a stack of uncounted ballots sitting around for days — not to mention

It was also noted by an election official that remaking ballots in an election with instant runoff is also problematic because the ballots may contain intentional undervotes on the second race. Fixing this may introduce errors into the process unintentionally.

Given that California did a test of voting systems, one has to wonder if this remarking was considered in the process of evaluation and if not, why it was not examined.