Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.
This is the very shortest of notes to announce that on Thursday esteemed councilcreeps Huizar, Ryu, and Koretz introduced a motion in Council ordering the City Clerk to report back in 60 days about the feasibility of hiring discredited election software vendor Everyone Counts to run an online voting pilot program in 2019 to be used in ten neighborhood council elections. The associated council file is CF 1022-S3.
Of course you will recall how the morally bankrupt Jose Huizar forced through a last-minute ordinance allowing online voting to be used in last year’s Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision election for the sole purpose of stealing the election. This is famously now the subject of a monumental lawsuit.
Since then responsibility for administering NC elections has been removed from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and given to the Clerk’s office. The Clerk, famously, has way higher standards for election security than DONE, so it’s disconcerting to see City Council ordering them to continue to deal with the shady and discredited Everyone Counts. Anyway, turn the page for the complete text of the motion. This one definitely bears watching.
Transcription of the motion:
The Neighborhood Council (NC) System was created to promote public participation in City governance and decision making processes in order for government to be more responsive to local community needs. Central to this goal is the inclusion of all community stakeholders to express their ideas and opinions to City Hall. Consistent and extensive outreach to the community, particularly in underrepresented areas of the City, about how to participate in the Neighborhood Council System is critical to the sustainability of Neighborhood Councils. Accessing voters and board members that are reflective of their respective neighborhoods is a critical piece of outreach.
Outreach is viewed by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment as including increased accessibility to the polls. While many social and civic activities are increasingly making use of online platforms, online options for voting are still in their infancy. Neighborhood Council elections are a lower risk environment for testing online voting as a strategy to increase access to the polls Current funding allows for Neighborhood Council elections to provide for a polling place for 4-6 hours for each Neighborhood Council in 2019, which potentially limits the accessibility for voters. While the type of voting system does not necessarily in and of itself increase voter turnout, a limited access polling site can prevent voters from voting.
A pilot online voting program for 2019 would provide up to 10 Neighborhood Councils the ability to vote online and for the City Clerk to assess the viability, safety and impact of including online voting as an alternative method for voting in Neighborhood Council elections moving forward. Everyone Counts was the vendor selected through RFP for the 2016 online elections and, while there were reported successes, the procedures implemented by City staff allowed for sensitive information to be distributed in Studio City. The City Clerk should report to Council within 60 days to provide a detailed plan of how the pilot program is to be operated to ensure the safety of voter information and include information from Everyone Counts as to the security of their voting system, including any instances of breaches in the company’s history.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council, with concurrence of the Mayor:
1. AUTHORIZE the Controller to transfer $215,000 from the Fiscal Year 2018-19 Budget, Unappropriated Balance Fund No. 100/58, NC Election Outreach, to the Office of the City Clerk, Fund No. 100/14, and appropriate funding as follows: $163,000 to Account 4170, Election Expense; $42,000 to Account 1070 As Needed Salaries; and $10,000 to Account 1090 Overtime Salaries for the conduct of up to 10 online NC elections in the spring of 2019, in addition to the already scheduled at poll elections.
2. AUTHORIZE the City Clerk to negotiate and execute any agreements as needed relative to the 2019 NC elections utilizing funds budgeted for this purpose, subject to the approval of the City Attorney as to form and legality.
3. INSTRUCT the City Clerk to prepare and submit a detailed written report to the City Council within 60 days on the plan for conducting the 10 NC online elections including:
a. How the 10 NCs will be chosen.
b. How the online elections will be conducted.
c. A history of any breaches to Everyone Counts’ security.
d. A plan of how safety measures will be implemented to ensure accuracy, accountability, and voter information security, including how issues with the 2016 NC elections will be avoided.
4. AUTHORIZE the City Clerk to make any technical corrections to the above in order to effectuate the intent of this motion.
Image of Jose Huizar is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and is somehow tangentially related to whatever the heck this is supposed to be.