Backroom deals are being made to introduce secretive, paperless, risky Internet voting (IV) to San Francisco (SF) and the Bay Area (BA). This has been going on for many months, with no notification to the public...

Counties and cities in the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (BA-UASI)
http://www.bayareauasi.org/ 

Backroom deals are being made to introduce secretive, paperless, risky Internet voting (IV) to San Francisco (SF) and the Bay Area (BA). This has been going on for many months, with no notification to the public, and most tellingly, no notification to the SF Elections Commission (EC) until October, 2021. 

To stop this, democracy advocates are now going public. We are asking you to speak out for paper-based, transparent elections, and for assisting the disabled to vote without endangering our government.

To make them easy to find, we are starting with a Summary, Objectives and Contacts. Below these is a Background section that you may need to read to understand what is involved.
 

SUMMARY

Secret SF Bay Area IV project

SF is working in collaboration with BA-UASI to develop a voting system using Internet voting (IV). They issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) April 2, 2021. Nobody informed the SF Elections Commission until October, 2021.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1BX7X7qyB9IIwYiLxHXEHvTqixaQl7LfU (1st link on page)

IV is dangerous

IV's ease of use is seductive to users, election officials, and enemies of democracy, foreign and domestic. So the non-stop push for IV is not going away. But IV is paperless by definition, so it's secretive and not auditable. NO public computer system is 100% secure - anywhere. Decades of documentation prove this. Internet security has become relatively weaker, not stronger over the years. Here is a place to start reading why: https://countedascast.org/internet-voting-risks/ 

IV is completely illegal In California

California state law absolutely forbids the use of Internet and wireless connections in voting systems:

 

"19205.  A voting system shall comply with all of the following:

(a) No part of the voting system shall be connected to the Internet at any time.

(b) No part of the voting system shall electronically receive or transmit election data through an exterior communication network, including the public telephone system, if the communication originates from or terminates at a polling place, satellite location, or counting center.

(c) No part of the voting system shall receive or transmit wireless communications or wireless data transfers.

(Added by renumbering Section 19217 by Stats. 2013, Ch. 602, Sec. 32. (SB 360) Effective January 1, 2014.)"

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=ELEC&sectionNum=19205 

SF EC has asked BoS to hold a hearing

This well-written letter reviews the situation, and asks 13 good questions.

 

"... we are calling on the Board of Supervisors to hold investigatory hearings into this project and its contracting procedures. We also call on the Board to put a hold on this contract until such hearings are held and questions answered." 

https://countedascast.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/sf-ec-to-bos-re-uasi-grant-2021-11-22.pdf

November 22, 2021

SF EC has already opposed IV

"Resolution On Internet Voting", adopted by the SF EC, April 19, 2017

 

"RESOLVED, That it be the policy of the Elections Commission to oppose allowing votes in United States local, state, and federal elections to be cast over the internet, including by email."

https://sfgov.org/electionscommission/sites/default/files/Documents/resolutions/Elections_Comm_Internet_Voting_Res.pdf

SF offers extensive services for disabled voters

 

"Approximately two weeks before the election up until Election Day, the Department facilitates ballot pick up and delivery. Any voter may authorize a person to pick up and return a ballot on his or her behalf. Voters may use the Ballot Pickup Authorization Form (PDF) or submit their own written authorization. ..."

 

"Upon request, if the voter is homebound, in the hospital, in a residential care facility, the Department can deliver or pick up a ballot for the voter. On Election Day, the Department organizes personnel dedicated solely to delivering and picking up ballots for voters who find themselves unable to make it to the polls."

https://sfelections.sfgov.org/accessible-voting-and-services (Ballot Delivery Program)

IV is outside 12-county BA-UASI mandate

The mandate of BA-UASI is to deal with terrorist attacks and catastrophic disasters." See the top of http://www.bayareauasi.org/ . The proposed project is about elections, which has nothing to do with either. 

 

Search for a definition of "terrorism". They always include the concept of violence, nothing about voting.

 

"Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” 

(28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)." https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/terrorism 

 

 

 

OBJECTIVES

To keep the Bay Area Internet voting free; specifically, to cancel the proposed contract and project, both within San Francisco, and the Bay Area.

 

To work with election officials and disability advocates to promote ways to help the disabled to vote, without risk to national security.

 

 

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Everybody

Write a short note to the Mayor and Supervisors of SF, asking that they hold a hearing as requested by the Elections Commission, and cancel the contract. Contact information is just below. Remember: What happens in California doesn't stay in California.

 

  • If you live in a BA-UASI county

Contact your county supervisor. Ask to meet with them and inform them that risky Internet voting is being built in their name. If you have time, attend a supervisors' meeting and make the same points during general public comment. You will only have a couple of minutes to speak, so bring printed documentation to hand out. Ask that the supervisors hold a hearing about this, and suggest that they urge the BA-UASI to cancel the project.

 

  • Support the further development of election systems and procedures that make it easier for the disabled to vote - without putting our government at risk.

 

  • Note: As I live in the Bay Area, I may be able to join you if needed when talking with mayors and county supervisors. (JimSoper2@gmail.com)

 

 

 

CONTACTS

San Francisco

Mayor

 

London Breed, MayorLondonBreed@sfgov.org

Supervisors

 

Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org

 

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

City Hall, Room 244

San Francisco, CA 94102-4689

 

  • President Shamann Walton

  • Supervisor Connie Chan

  • Supervisor Matt Haney

  • Supervisor Rafael Mandelman

  • Supervisor Gordon Mar

  • Supervisor Myrna Melgar

  • Supervisor Aaron Peskin

  • Supervisor Dean Preston

  • Supervisor Hillary Ronen

  • Supervisor Ahsha Safai

  • Supervisor Catherine Stephani

Department of Elections

John Arntz, Director, john.arntz@sfgov.org

Elections Commission

elections.commission@sfgov.org

Committee on Information Technology

coit.staff@sfgov.org

maryellen.carroll@sfgov.org 

Department of Emergency Management 

Mary Ellen Carroll, Executive Director

Mayor's Office on Disability

Nicole Bohn, Director, nicole.bohn@sfgov.org

Deborah Kaplan, Deputy Director, deborah.kaplan@sfgov.org

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

Important Documents

SF Elections Commission Letter to Supervisors

"The interest reflected in the Bay Area UASI materials in using the internet and/or blockchain on this project is alarming on its face – and cause for concern – as are the references in the project narrative equating voter fraud with terrorism."

https://countedascast.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/sf-ec-to-bos-re-uasi-grant-2021-11-22.pdf 

Nov 22, 2021

Advocates' Letter to SF Supervisors

"the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology specifically advised “we recommend paper ballot return as electronic ballot return technologies are high-risk even with [risk-management] controls in place.”"

https://countedascast.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/sf-bos-letter-2021-11-16.pdf 

Nov 16, 2021

Commissioner Jerdonek's Detailed Memo To SF Elections Commission

"Online voting has been rejected as unacceptably insecure by DHS, FBI, NIST, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine"

https://sfgov.org/electionscommission/sites/default/files/Documents/meetings/2021/2021-11-17-commission/Remote_Ballot_Project_Memo.pdf

Nov 12, 2021

Request for Proposals (RFP), 

"Formal Invitation for Bids for: Remote Ballot Completion and Submission"

 

Even though the project is about "remote ballot completion and submission" (pg 1), the table on page 9, "Minimum Qualifications", does not require experience developing election systems - at all. It does however, require "MQ5: Prior engagement with immutable records technology" which I understand to be blockchain technology, similar to that of BitCoin. It is NOT safe enough for government elections.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1BX7X7qyB9IIwYiLxHXEHvTqixaQl7LfU (1st doc)

April 2, 2021

 

See also the section on Blockchain Technology in the middle of this page: https://countedascast.org/internet-voting-risks/internet-voting-reading-list/ 

 

Narrative

The second document in the link just below is the "IAM Project Narrative". It says "the project will provide documented proof of electronic voter fraud committed by a terrorist group", and "This project supports terrorism preparedness by alleviating the potential for voter fraud". 

 

Never mind that voter fraud barely exists, and that voter frraud is not terrorism as there is no violence involved. Why equate voter fraud with terrorism? Because the funding agency, BA-USI (below) can only deal with terrorism and catastropic disasters. Nothing else.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1BX7X7qyB9IIwYiLxHXEHvTqixaQl7LfU

 

 

 

About San Francisco

SF is unique in that it is both a city and a county, both of which are governed by a single mayor and a single, 11-member Board of Supervisors (BoS). Involved are the Director of the Department of Elections (John Arntz), the Director of the Department of Technology and the Department of Emergency Preparedness.

 

Reporting to the Elections Director is the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC).

https://sfelections.sfgov.org/vaac-meeting-agendas-and-minutes 

Accessible Voting and Services

Ballot Pickup, Delivery, and Return Services

https://sfelections.sfgov.org/ballot-pickup-delivery-and-return-services

"State elections law allows a voter in certain circumstances to authorize another person to pick up their ballot and deliver it to them. State law also allows any voter to authorize another person to return their voted ballot for them."

"Emergency Ballot Pick-Up and Delivery Request Form"

https://sfelections.sfgov.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Voting/2021/S21_FHB_Pickup_EN-CH.pdf 

Elections Commission

SF also has an independent Elections Commission, formed in 2001 by amending the SF Charter. The commission has oversight over general election policy in SF (just below). 

SF EC By Laws

https://sfgov.org/electionscommission/sites/default/files/Documents/misc/bylaws/SF%20Elections%20Commission%20Bylaws%20%28April%2021%2C%202021%29.pdf

SF City Charter, Section 13.103.5

“An Elections Commission shall be established to oversee all public federal, state, district and municipal elections in the City and County. The Commission shall set general policies for the Department of Elections and shall be responsible for the proper administration of the general practices of the Department, subject to the budgetary and fiscal provisions of this Charter."

Added to charter November 2001; amended November 2002

 

The EC also has an open source voting systems task force, which has been putting together planning for a project to develop an open source election system for SF, and potentially, the state and country. Lacking has been funding for this project.

 

 

 

Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (BA-UASI)

 

"The Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative sustains and improves regional capacity to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks and catastrophic disasters."


The Bay Area UASI includes:

  • Oakland

  • San Francisco

  • San Jose

 

and these counties:

  • Alameda

  • Contra Costa

  • Marin

  • Monterey

  • Napa

  • San Benito

  • San Francisco

  • San Mateo

  • Santa Clara

  • Santa Cruz

  • Solano

  • Sonoma

 

http://www.bayareauasi.org/about-us 

 

Approval Authority

"An eleven member Approval Authority directs the Bay Area UASI under the auspices of a multi-year master agreement. This Brown-Acted body includes representation from each of the three major cities (San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose) and some of the twelve counties located in the Bay Area UASI footprint. This group provides policy direction and is responsible for final decisions regarding projects and funding."

http://www.bayareauasi.org/about-us 

 

"The Advisory Group supports the Approval Authority by making policy and programmatic recommendations to the Approval Authority by gathering and analyzing information, making policy and programmatic recommendations, and providing input regarding the planning process. Advisory Group meetings take place monthly in advance of Approval Authority meetings and are facilitated by an elected Chairperson of the Advisory Group."

http://www.bayareauasi.org/approval-authority/ 

Management Team

"Under the direction of the Approval Authority, the Bay Area UASI Management Team administers grant funds, conducts risk and capability assessments, supports policy development and implementation, and develops and disseminates tools and best practices among the region’s emergency response and management disciplines. The Management Team serves as the liaison between the City and County of San Francisco (the Bay Area UASI fiscal agent), the Department of Homeland Security, the State of California, and local government grant sub-recipients."

http://www.bayareauasi.org/about-us

 

"Led by a General Manager, the Management Team consists of executive staff, project managers, and grant specialists. The Assistant General Manager leads risk management and strategic planning and develops and implements policies and procedures for the organization. Project oversight is the responsibility of the Regional Program Manager who provides guidance to project managers. Under the direction of the Chief Financial Officer, the grants staff is responsible for the fiscal, administrative and legislative responsibilities associated with facilitating the UASI programs."

http://www.bayareauasi.org/about-uasi/management-team

The page includes names and links to the team members.

The Grant Cycle

"Each year, Congress allocates funding for the Homeland Security Grant Program. Federal and state guidance documents provide the Bay Area with instructions on grant requirements. As required by the Department Of Homeland Security and Approval Authority Bylaws, all proposals must have a nexus to terrorism and be designed to close an identified capability gap. Capability objectives are developed annually based on the region’s most recent risk analysis."

http://www.bayareauasi.org/grants

 

 

 

Press

SF Examiner articles

 

"SF received $1.5 million to explore online voting. Critics think it’s a horrible idea"

https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/sf-received-1-5-million-to-explore-online-voting-critics-think-its-a-horrible-idea/

 

"What if City Hall started hooking voting up to the internet, a notion many experts believe is dangerous? And then everyone involved just wandered off without answering questions? A bizarre, federally funded, $1.5 million online voting project has been raising questions around San Francisco’s City Hall for a couple of weeks, and the Elections Commission is asking the Supes to look into it. A strongly worded letter expresses “deep concern” for the project’s ”references to both internet voting and the use of blockchain protocols – as well as the lack of transparency” around the project. Last week a slew of experts, including the Electronic Freedom Foundation, blasted the project for wandering into the risky cybersecurity area of online voting without clear direction or leadership. Who put in for the federal grant and launched this thing, and why won’t they come forward and take responsibility?…"

https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/wine-in-a-can-san-francisco-startup-backed-by-music-heavyweights/

  Source: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cdysj6S7D0SfR_yRItBud5zJA_Bt3Q_Qni9UfsmkMys