Santa Clara County Gets First Voting Tech Upgrade Since ’03

Silicon Valley voters will be using an entirely new system to cast their ballots in 2020.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized the Registrar of Voters’ first voting technology upgrade since 2003, marking the end of drawn-out talks over how to bring its outdated system into the 21st century.

“We are looking forward to this change,” Registrar of Voters (ROV) Shannon Bushey said in a news release after the Board of Supervisors OK’d the plan. “We think voters will like the new system, and we appreciate the increase in performance and processing speed the new voting system will bring, as well as its stringent vote-security measures.”

Tuesday’s vote greenlights a complete system overhaul. That means Bushey’s office is slated to receive high-speed central scanners and new ballot review stations for staff at the ROV office on Berger Drive in San Jose. It also entails in-person voting equipment such as ballot scanners, tabulators and ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices for the Vote Centers that will replace polling places next year.

One of the biggest boons from the new system will be the decentralized count, officials say. Under the current setup, all ballots must be returned to the ROV headquarters for tabulation. After this system overhaul, the county will be able to conduct remote tallies, which will greatly speed up posted results on election night.

Each Vote Center will have at least three ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices, including a touchscreen tablet and individual printer, according to the county ROV. These contraptions will give voters an intuitive interface, ROV officials said in a press release sent to reporters on Tuesday.

“After marking a ballot on the touchscreen, voters will print the ballot in their voting booth,” the announcement explained. “The voters will then deposit their paper ballot in the ballot tabulator. The ballot tabulator will warn the voter about potential errors and allow the voter an opportunity to correct the error.”

One of the perks of the new system is that it will create an audit trail for each ballot cast, according to the county. It will also document how each mark on each ballot was interpreted and counted so it can be reviewed at any time during a post-election canvass.

“This provides insight into how the system interprets ballots when counting voters,” county officials stated, “something that was previously not available.”

To make sure that the new system is secure, it will remain completely disconnected from the internet and any external communication network.

The county will lease the new system for $15 million over the next eight years. Leasing will provide the flexibility in case there’s a need to upgrade or swap out the system entirely. State grants for voting modernization may offset about $5.6 million of the cost.

16 Comments

      • > Most of your question can be answered online.(

        Where’s the online answer to question number 39?

        “How do Santa Clara County voters ensure that voters have more influence on elections than Google?”

          • > By voting.

            Are you a ballot harvester?

            Do you get paid by the number of ballots you intercept and lose?

            Do you get paid more for losing ballots of Trump voters or for losing ballots of Hillary voters?

          • Well that got personal real quick. Nope I’m just a mole living under the bubble.

            Why do you post the previous comment on your reply? Do you not know how comment threads work? In real life when you respond to people, do you repeat what they say? Do you need technical assistance?

            On a personal note I would think it I’ll pay more to loose Hillary’s votes. Why don’t you visit Manafort in jail and ask him how much each vote cost? Or take a stroll to North Carolina and ask Mark Harris what he paid.

  1. “stringent vote-security measures”… I wonder what that means. From the article, it sounds like these machines will be hooked up to the internet, which is a Bad Idea. And if they are, then those security measures aren’t that stringent.

    • I don’t know anything about it other than what the article says:
      “To make sure that the new system is secure, it will remain completely disconnected from the internet and any external communication network.”

      • > “To make sure that the new system is secure, it will remain completely disconnected from the internet and any external communication network.”

        THEREFORE, the only security threat will be from local insiders and politicians.

        I feel better.

  2. > Santa Clara County Gets First Voting Tech Upgrade Since ’03

    Here’s an interesting “tech upgrade”, thoughtfully invented by Google, that might be useful in conducting elections:

    https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/02/07/google-location-police-search-warrants

    “How did the police know you were near a crime scene? Google told them”

    There are manly imaginative ways this technology could be used. It could check, for example, to see if any Santa Clara County Supervisors of San Jose City Council Members met with any lobbyists or campaign operatives near a polling station on election day.

    That would be wrong. And it might even be illegal if the Supervisor or Council Member were filling out their mail in ballot or drafting laws at the same time.

  3. > Why do you post the previous comment on your reply? Do you not know how comment threads work? In real life when you respond to people, do you repeat what they say? Do you need technical assistance?

    Actually, an important question:

    “Why do you post the previous comment on your reply?”

    It’s simple. When attempting a dialogue with people who are motivated by what they FEEL about what they think you said versus what you actually said, such people will often wrongly associate or mis characterize my comments.

    Being as specific as possible about exactly WHAT I am commenting on is a valuable and effective way to keep unfocused people focused on the particular and specific issue of the moment.

    If a person says A,B, and C. and I comment on A, there will ALWAYS be some dimwit who will try to argue that my comment refers to C which therefore proves I am a racist.

    Bottom line, posting prior comments is an “anti-dimwit” containment strategy.

    > Do you need technical assistance?

    No. Do you?

  4. Hopefully this new equipment will pull SCC ROV out of the cellar of vote counting in CA

    • > Hopefully this new equipment will pull SCC ROV out of the cellar of vote counting in CA

      Who knows? I think it could very easily be worse.

      I heard a presentation by the ROV staff about the new vote-by-mail balloting system in California. It was the information equivalent of a calorie free beverage. After hearing the spiel, my take away was: “something about voting, everybody gets a ballot mailed to them, it’s been approved by the legislature, polling stations aren’t really for voting anymore, they’re just drop-off places for your ballot after you’ve filled it out.”

      The presenter mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that there will be a LOT of people working at the ROV after the election checking signatures on the mail in ballot envelopes against signatures on file.

      Sounds to me like a VERY slow, error prone vote counting system, with LOTS of room for mischief.

      I can still recall the TV news report of the “election judge” in the hanging chad election in Florida holding a ballot up to the light and saying “it is my judgement that the voter intended to vote for blah blah blah”.

      When everyone votes by mail and no one goes to the polls and you don’t know that there is an election taking place except for the talking heads on TV, and the results of the elections in California are known weeks in advance, what difference does it make how fast the simulated votes are counted?

      Gavin Newsom wins.

      Democrats win the senate.

      Democrats win congress.

      Democrats retain veto proof control of the legislature.

      Trump loses.

      Go back to your homes.Nothing more to see.

      The poor dumb schlubs at the Silicon Valley Democrat Club are all dressed up with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

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