A coalition of experts and organizations committed to secure, reliable elections, including Free Speech For People, California Voter Foundation, National Voting Rights Task Force, and Verified Voting, sent a letter November 16th to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and Elections Commission urging the Board to halt a pending contract for an internet voting system and initiate an investigation. Following the coalition letter, the San Francisco Elections Commission sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors echoing the same concerns and requests. 

It had recently come to light that the San Francisco Department of Elections had committed $1.5 million to purchase an internet voting system to facilitate voting for individuals with disabilities, without consulting the San Francisco Elections Commission. California state law prohibits any internet voting and the San Francisco Elections Commission had unanimously adopted a policy opposing all forms of internet voting.  The letter also highlights that online voting has been deemed unacceptably insecure by the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. 

The groups and experts asked the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to halt the contracting process to prevent the use of taxpayer funds for a system that cannot be lawfully deployed. The letter offered a number of policies and procedures that could be expanded to improve ballot access to voters with disabilities, without introducing dangerously insecure online voting, stating, “[a]ll of these options are feasible, secure, legal, and far less risky or expensive than attempting to set up an online ballot return process. We recommend a broader, more deliberative approach to identifying and overcoming obstacles to secure and reliable accessible voting.” 

Shortly after the coalition letter was sent, the San Francisco Elections Commission sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors expressing many of the same concerns. 

Read more in the San Francisco Examiner here.