Local Democratic Party Raises Concern Over Electronic Voting Machines

Party Wants To End So-Called Sleepover Policy

The head of the local Democratic Party asked the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday to schedule public hearings on election policies and practices.

Jess Durfee, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said the integrity of local elections is being compromised by what he called a sleepover policy related to electronic voting machines.

Durfee opposes the policy in which election workers are allowed to take electronic voting machines home with them in advance of an election.

"We want the Board of Supervisors to hear the public's concerns about the way our elections are conducted in San Diego," Durfee said.

"The growing crisis of confidence about election integrity will continue to undermine the democratic process until serious actions are taken to protect the vote," he said. "The voters in San Diego County have a right to know that our elections are properly managed, fair and legal."

Durfee also wants the panel to address public concerns on how absentee ballots are distributed. According to the North County Times, some voters during the June primary received absentee ballots too late to return them before the election.

County Supervisor Bill Horn said a public hearing was not warranted unless there was proof of fraud.

"The machines are taken home because there are so many of them they couldn't possibly be delivered the morning of the election," he said.

Horn said all of the county's electronic voting machines, which must be certified by the Secretary of State's Office, are equipped with tamper-evident seals, which if broken would lead to decertification.

"We don't have a problem," Horn said in a phone interview. "I don't want to fix something that is not a problem."

According to the supervisor, 98 percent of those who voted in the last election used optical scanners. The rest used touch screens.

Election officials are required to have disabled accessible voting devices at each polling location to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.

Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas also defended the decision to send the voting machines home, telling the newspaper it was a practical way of making sure the devices reached all of the county's 1,646 polling places on time.

He also noted that the machines are placed only with poll inspectors.

"We just don't give this stuff out like candy," Haas told the Times.

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