Report from San Francisco

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Thu Nov 15 2007 - 12:17:05 CST

Yesterday, I attended the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget and
Finance committee meeting -- along with Brent Turner and several other local
activists (including a few people on this list, e.g., Chandra Friese). The
Sequoia contract is being reconsidered.

Our recommendation has been to reject the Sequoia contract and procure an
open source voting system. They could continue with ES&S until then, or go
to a hand count, if necessary.

Since no open source voting system has been certified for use, we wanted
them to build certification into the procurement -- in effect, making their
own voting system.

We have lost some ground with Peskin, which matters because he is president
of the board. Mayor Newsome has always been against us and pro-Sequoia.
Peskin wanted us to work out some sort of compromise language to put in the
contract. We kinda sorta did that, and there is now something in the
contract -- not exactly what I wanted -- that would lead to open source (or
publicly disclosed, more likely).

The clause, which I think of as the "open source domino" clause, says that
if any vendor gets an open (or disclosed) source system certified in
California, Sequoia will go open (or disclosed). The wording needs to be
tightened because, as it is, there is too much wiggle room for Sequoia (I
only saw the wording at the meeting, a few minutes before I spoke about it
in the public comments -- Director Arntz had pulled me aside to show it to
me). But they have the basic idea in the contract. I'll try to get the
exact wording and post it here, if allowable.

The contract was not sent to the whole board at this meeting and the issue
will be continued to the next B&F meeting (Dec 5). I still want to stick
with our original position. Chris Daly is no longer on the B&F committee,
but we think he will still champion our position (expressed in the
resolution he introduced). In order for Daly to prevail, we have to
convince the board of several things:

- They can procure an open source voting system in a reasonable time frame

- They can hand-count any elections (i.e. 2008) in case no such system is in

- The new open source system will be better than the Sequoia system and
won't cost any more (preferably less, but I don't think cost is the primary
factor -- for sure, they want to be able to use their HAVA funds, which
amounts to more than a third of the $12.6 mill)

So, we have a few weeks to make the case. If the contract makes it out of
B&F on the 5th, then it will go to the full board perhaps the next week.

Alan D.

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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:24 2007

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