SoCal City Voter Wants to Stop Online Election

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – Del Mar rushed through approval of an Internet-based city voting system and plans to use it Monday, a resident says in a request for an injunction against it.
     The Tuesday vote will be an advisory election, in which voters will be asked to choose one of three plans for a new Civic Center, also known as the City Hall/Town Hall Project. Only Del Mar voters will be allowed to vote.
     Del Mar, pop. 44,000, 20 miles north of San Diego, is a wealthy community best known for its racetrack.
     On Thursday, Dr. Edward Mohns sued Del Mar, its city manager, its administrative services director and Everyone Counts Inc., a San Diego-based company that got the contract to set up the Internet voting system.
     In his lawsuit in Superior Court, Mohns says that the voting system “has not been certified by the California Secretary of State,” and that the City Council did not give final approval for it until its Jan. 20 meeting.
     Mohns says that “immediate injunctive relief by this court is required” because Del Mar wants to go live with the system on Feb. 2. City residents can vote by Internet-connected computers, tablets and smartphones. Everyone Counts will also provide tablets for public use.
     The City Council voted on Dec. 15, 2014 to authorize the city manager to enter a sole-source procurement contract with Everyone Counts.
     The company will use proprietary software and will count the votes via its own servers.
     The city will make computers available for voting, and voters will have use a unique password that Del Mar mailed to each registered voter. They also will need a secondary identifier, such as birthdate or the last four digits of their Social Security number.
     The contract allows Everyone Counts to conduct up to two more advisory elections in the next 12 months.
     Mohns claims the City Council used a transparent dodge to skirt state law. He says a “voting integrity organization” told the Council at its Jan. 20 meeting that Internet voting is prohibited by California law, whether it’s called an online “advisory election” or something else.
     Nonetheless, the City Council unanimously voted to go ahead. But it “agreed that what it had heretofore consistently referred to as an ‘advisory election’ should instead be referred to as a ‘community poll.’ The change in nomenclature was based on written advice in a staff report that California law ‘does not allow advisory votes, or any election, to be conducted online,'” Mohns says.
     That’s not good enough, Mohns says. Call it what you will, it violates California Elections Code § 19205(a) and 19202(d). He wants the electronic election enjoined, plus costs.
     He is represented by Lowell Finley, of Oakland.

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