The City by the Bay

It isn’t only in Florida that they have difficulties counting ballot papers. Thanks to Jo and Alec for keeping me informed about the recent shenanigans in San Francisco. From the 10 December Las Vegas Sun:

San Francisco Shamed By Election

Several weeks after the November election, the Coast Guard fished eight ballot-box lids out of the San Francisco Bay, and 240 uncounted ballots were found stuck in voting machines – the latest embarrassments in the city’s sorry electoral history.

San Francisco has had persistent vote-counting problems and has gone through five election directors in the past six years. And the most recent foul-ups have left politicians and citizens angry and demanding reform.

“This election department and the people in charge of it are making San Francisco the biggest laughingstock this side of Florida,” said Aaron Peskin, a member of the city Board of Supervisors. “Heads should roll!”

City officials hope to avoid more trouble in Tuesday’s runoff for city attorney – a relatively simple vote to count, since there are only two candidates. Still, state fraud investigators will be watching closely.

But longer-term change may be on the way: In a little-noticed measure on November’s ballot, voters overwhelmingly approved creation of a seven-member commission to run the elections department and to hire a director.

The most controversial question voters faced on Nov. 6 was a measure to seize Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s power lines and provide power directly to the public. It led on Election Day, but lost after all the absentee ballots were counted five days after the polls closed.

Three weeks later – a few days after the lids were found floating in the bay – PG&E’s lead narrowed again, to just 515 votes, after 240 uncounted ballots were discovered stuck in machines.

Elections Director Tammy Haygood finally certified the election last week – the day after 400 blank ballots were discovered at a former poll worker’s house in yet another embarrassing episode.

Confidence in the results had not been high from the start. On Election Night, some 5,500 absentee ballots were secretly moved to a loosely guarded room in an auditorium. Haygood said she had them moved because of anthrax fears…

More entertaining details are reported by the San Francisco Bay Guardian: those who spotted ballot boxes being carried out of a ballot processing station on election night will be reassured to learn that the official report concluded that “the boxes held trash from an employee dinner”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *