New open source voting system a step closer

Advocates for complete transparency in the inner workings of voting machines have found a sympathetic home in San Francisco - but they ran into a brick wall at City Hall on Wednesday.

A Board of Supervisors committee took the city a step closer to buying new voting machines that do not conform to the standard of complete openness that many activists view as the keystone of their movement.

Instead, a proposed $12.6 million contract with Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland - which the committee forwarded to the full board for a final vote next week - includes safeguards meant to mollify the advocates, like an independent review of the software used to tally votes.

The machines would replace the aging voting technology the city now uses, technology that is so unreliable California Secretary of State Debra Bowen imposed tough restrictions on its use in the Nov. 6 election.