New voting system to debut at San Francisco polls

Voters in San Francisco are getting their first look at a new voting system at the ballot this November.

The new vote count method will allow everyone to verify the results themselves and check out every ballot cast in the city.

The San Francisco Department of Elections is already starting to process ballots, feeding vote by mail ballots into the city's new voting machines, which are counting the ballots, but won't release any results until after every ballot is cast on Tuesday.

"When people see results tomorrow night, at 8:45 p.m. those votes will just be the vote-by-mail ballots received as of today," John Arntz from San Francisco's Department of Elections said on Monday. 

The new digital imaging system looks like a scanner because it acts a lot like a scanner. Taking a photograph of each ballot and on Tuesday tabulating the results. The computers are encrypted to protect the votes and the entire system is disconnected from the internet to reduce the chance for any interference.

The system is better at catching irregular ballots, and once all personal information is removed from each ballot, there will be an unprecedented opportunity for voters to verify the results themselves. "The department will actually post all those ballot images on our website. So, that means the voters will actually see the votes that were cast in San Francisco," said Arntz.

Instead of connecting lines, San Francisco voters are filling in ovals. Voters can still cast ranked choice ballots using a grid system to pick their favorite candidate, second favorite and so on. The system is aimed at avoiding costly runoff elections.

With a mayoral election, the Department of Elections usually sees about 50-55 percent voter turnout. So far, the city is looking at about 13% voter turnout with the ballots turned in so far.