officials give new system run-through
At an obscure warehouse in Mission Bay, The City's great
ranked-choice voting experiment is in full swing.
On Thursday, a dozen election workers were busy testing and
retesting the Election Department's 561 blue voting machines. Each
one was plastered with a small sticker stating "RCV
Equipped," meaning it had been reprogrammed to handle The
City's new voting system, in which voters can rank their three top
As workers fed ballots into the machines, the Center for Voting
and Democracy's Steven Hill -- who worked for years to put RCV
voting into place -- looked on with obvious pleasure.
"I like what I see," said Hill.
As part of an annual state-mandated "Logic and Accuracy
Testing," election workers have been holding mini elections.
They tried to trick up the equipment with so-called "exception
test decks" -- flawed ballots indicating more than one first
choice or no choices at all.
"The machines have found every mistake," said election
clerk Crispin Tirso, who was in charge of the tests. "We're
going to make this thing work."
While the equipment may be in order, it remains to be seen
whether voters will understand the ranked choice system. A total of
$800,000 in city funds has been allocated to teach voters about the
new system. A new education campaign on Muni buses is about to roll
"The big question is whether voters will know what they are
doing," said Hill.
Seasonal election workers Roman Oganesian and Jeff Smith said
their jobs haven't changed much under the new system: They still
hand-count each ballot to make sure it is consistent with the
"I think it will be better," said Oganesian.
"Voters will have a better chance of their vote counting."