County to spend $20M to upgrade voting system

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SAN DIEGO — The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $20 million upgrade of the San Diego County voting system.

The panel voted 4-0, with Supervisor Ron Roberts absent, to spend state and federal funds to improve local electoral computers, scanners, touchscreen units and software.

The existing ballot-scanning system, which has been in use for more than 14 years, has become outmoded, since fewer computers are available with the Windows XP operating system, according to county officials.

The funding for the upgrades will come from an anticipated $7.5 million from the 2002 Proposition 41 voting-modernization measure; $7.5 million from the federal Help America Vote Act; and $5 million in additional state funds.

With the board supporting the upgrade, the county will now search for a vendor to oversee the refurbishment, Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said.

Despite the modernization of the system, the county will still use paper ballots, Vu said.

In other board action, the supervisors called a special March 19, 2020, election that will let Julian-area residents decide what agency will handle firefighting duties in the East County mountain town.

A yes vote would assign the county Fire Authority to provide protection there, while a no vote would mean that residents of the rural area would keep the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District, but officials would have to find a way to pay for it.

Earlier this year, the fire protection district, which also served Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, was dissolved due to financial problems and aging facilities.

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