Election night in San Francisco will be an anticlimactic affair, as Secretary of State Debra Bowen has implemented strict controls over Election Systems and Software, the company that makes the city's e-voting machines, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"We'll probably be able to release the absentee ballot results at 8:30 p.m. and then election night will be over in San Francisco," said John Arntz, the city's election chief. "Those will be the only ballots counted on election night."
Bowen is requiring that machine-generated ballots be counted only in election headquarters, because of concerns that ballots might not be recorded properly.
"We have to visually inspect each ballot to be sure the right implement was used before we can have it counted," Arntz said. "We won't be able to count more than 10,000 votes a day."
It will be impossible to know who has won the election until all the votes are tallied, perhaps as much as three weeks after the election.
Election officials were actually relieved that they would not be required to count ballots by hand, as Bowen had threatened. Bowen said ES&S refused to cooperate with efforts to improve the reliability of voting machines.
"It is unfortunate that rather than alter its system to address the problems ... ES&S has decided to engage in a chess game at the expense of the voters of San Francisco," Bowen said in a Sept. 14 letter to the company. "The requirements outlined above are intended to do what ES&S has to date declined to do - ensure that the ballots of San Francisco's voters are accurately tallied."