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Local democrats request election hearings

The head of the San Diego Democratic Party says the County Board of Supervisors should hold public hearings on local election policies. Jess Durfee wants the board to investigate a practice that sends electronic voting machines home with poll workers. KPBS Radio's Andrew Phelps has more.

Durfee calls it a sleepover policy that exposes the touch-screen machines to possible tampering.

Durfee: "These machines could be sitting in people's trunks, they could be sitting in their garages for up to 5 to 10 days before the election. That's not security, and there's no excuse for our registrar of voters allowing that and saying that's a secure system."

County Supervisor Bill Horn says there is no practical alternative to delivering materials in advance of the election. He says only senior poll workers are certified to keep the machines. In the June primary, there were more than 1,600 polling places.

Horn: "The machines are secured by tamper proof seals, and they are numbered. In fact, when they go to the polling place, the first thing they do is print out the number of votes on that machine. And it should be zero."

But Durfee is concerned that machines with broken seals were used in the last election.

Durfee: "When they called that in to the Registrar of Voters, technically they were supposed to decertify those machines. And the registrar said, Oh, go ahead and use them.

County Registrar Mikel Haas says votes in the last election were hand-counted if they came from any machine in question. Horn adds that less than two percent of voters used touch screens the rest voted on paper ballots.

Haas says the suggestion of tampering is insulting. But Durfee has stopped short of making any specific allegations of fraud and that's why Supervisor Horn says there won't be a public hearing. Durfee says he'll stage protests outside county headquarters until the board agrees to one.

For KPBS, I'm Andrew Phelps.

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