County will shift to centralized vote tally

06/13/2019

Marin County Elections officials will count ballots in a central location within the next few years, eliminating the practice of local poll machines tallying votes. The change, expected by November 2020, comes alongside the purchase of a new voting system approved the Board of Supervisors last week. The system upgrade was necessary: in February, Secretary of State Alex Padilla mandated that all voting systems that fail to meet the state’s latest system standards—which Marin’s do—be replaced by 2020. Marin’s current system dates to 1999 and replacement parts are no longer made for it. Installation of the new equipment—which will cost the county around $810,000—will begin this summer. The system may get its first trial as soon as this fall’s elections and should allow staff to count ballots more quickly, said Lynda Roberts, the county’s registrar of voters. As part of a longer-term transition, the elections department will shift to centralized counting system—meaning ballots will be driven to the Civic Center to be counted—over the next two to three years. Ms. Roberts said centralized counting on election night will be more efficient, but that it will not pose too large a shift: 75 percent of Marin voters send mail-in ballots, which are counted at the Civic Center.