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New thread for the update on online petitioning. Here's the staff presentation:…
It's going to move fast; Carr talks really quickly. Hard to keep up.
Here's a handy chart on the various types of petitions:
In 2018, voters changed the thresholds for referendums and initiatives so they would match to 10% of the average of voters in the previous two city council elections.

That chart is WRONG in that the threshold for recalls remained 25%, not 10%.
It was recommended to go to 10% like the others, but council left it the same (or maybe changed it to 20%; I covered this but it was so long ago I don't remember)
Carr going over the history of how we got here. Here's some background from me:…
Here's what the packet says now: online petitioning will be implemented in two phases
Phase 1: Fully secure system that allows ppl to endorse uploaded petition (by July 12, 2020)
Phase 2: Archive and storage; workflow, petition creation, etc.; calendars, notification and historical petition reporting (by Nov. 13, 2020)
The system will NOT be able to handle a blend of paper and online petitioning; it will have to be one or the other.
After a competitive bidding process, Runbeck Election Services was picked to do Boulder's online petitioning system
Runbeck has an established relationship with gov't in Colorado, including the Secretary of State.
Carr has included his traditional cute animal slide in the powerpoint. It's Hank, city clerk Lynette Beck's dog.
A lot of the background Carr is sharing is in response to concern from some residents. I haven't really covered this bc I haven't had the time, and tbh, the rhetoric has been a little extreme. I'm not really sure how much there is there, in terms of a story.
Only 4 successful petitions in the last 10 years in Boulder, FYI.
But the city expects more with the lower thresholds. I think I know of at least 2 this cycle.
RE: not being able to do paper and online signatures for the same petition, Carr says it would create so much work for staff to remove duplicate signatures.
It doesn't justify the cost if we don't know what the demand will be, Carr says. If it turns out that ppl want to do paper/online combo signature gathering, then we can address that in the future and tweak the system.
Carr addressing some more resident recommendations from Steve Pomerance. Plenty of resident recommendations make their way to council, but none so often or so prominently as Steve Pomerance's.
Basically, staff doesn't like his ideas anyway in this case.
Boulder has had some difficulty in accessing voter registration data. The Secretary of State has never shared its database with cities before; only counties (which run elections).
Work with Boulder County, the state said.

City is doing that, finalizing a memorandum of understanding right now to get a daily voter registration file. It's taken awhile, Carr says, bc of security concerns.
Bc online petitioning is very new 'round these parts. Boulder really breaking some ground here.
A *very quick* summary of some of the concerns: There was a company, Map Light, that offered to do a free, open-source system.

The city did a competitive bidding process (as it has to do) and Map Light came back with an open-source but NOT free system.
Map Light then did another bid, outside of the system. We don't generally allow failed bidders to do another bid; it has to be under an RFP (Request For Proposals) Carr says.

"We think criticisms we've heard aren't based on any reality."
I'm concerned about Map Light contacting community members who are asking council to circumnavigate the proposal process, Carr says, which is intended to create a level playing field.
Q from Wallach: What's the risk with the lease that after a period (4 yrs, in this case) the provider could jack up the rates?
The expectation is that we can keep renewing if we're happy, staff says. (Someone from IT whose name I didn't catch. Apologies.)
Back to the MapLight / Runbeck issue: Their two formal bids were similar in price. There isn't cost information in the packet, that I saw. Will search back through RFPs before I write a story.
I HATE when they don't include cost information. It's literally ALWAYS the first q I have for gov't stuff.
Carr walking through a demo of the system now. It looks pretty user-friendly.
The main page displays all available petitions. When you click on one, you can see how many ppl have signed it. The petition will close when it meets the signature threshold or runs out of time.
3,066 is the current threshold, per Carr
Yates: Ppl usually overshoot and get more signatures then they need. Would it shut off at 3,066 or allow some wiggle room?
Carr: That's bc signatures are found invalid. This system will prevent that.
Yates: Why stop at all?
Carr: There's no reason; we don't have to.
Yates: Does the system have the ability to un-sign?
No, bc that's not something you can do with paper petitions.
Yates: Yeah, but does the law prevent us from allowing that?
Carr: No. We're going to write the law.
Yates: Let's look at that.
Swetlik: What are the current sunk costs if we pull out of the agreement with Runbeck?
IT lady: About $25,000; they started working in December but haven't invoiced us yet.
Carr: Contract has 30-day cancellation clause.
Carr: I would say it's less than $100,000; probably $50,000. They've done an awful lot of work.
$240,000 is the cost for development. Yay cost information!
Friend: I think some of the concern from the community is transparency. Dec. 13, there was a decision to enter the contract. I was at a meeting the next day where the contract had already been signed. There was commitment to not sign one before that working group.
Carr: We spent months negotiating the contract. I think it was (signed) 5 days before (the meeting).

The question was: Do we wait? As staff, we'd been criticized a lot for delaying.
There was a 30-day opt-out on the contract, so if we heard something from the working group that they didn't want to do it, we would just pull out.
Friend: That would have been really helpful to have heard at that group, that there was a 30-day out.

That wasn't shared, she and Swetlik recall
Carr: That was the rationale for signing it.
Swetlik: I generally don't like going back on previous councils' work.
Three things: I have concerns about the transparency piece. I do like open-source software; I worked for an open-source co for 8 years. It's not a great way to make $$...
..., but it is a great way to make $$ and be constantly improving.
We're supposed to be leaders, Swetlik says, and providing an open-source system that anyone could use, that would be us leading.
AND if a cheaper option is presented, we should entertain that. It's unfortunate that we're already $50,000-$100,000 into it, but "what is the cost of transparency and leadership?"
Carr: I'm not sure Map Light's offer is cheaper; we'd have to have staff time make up for what they're not doing. We didn't analyze that second proposal because it came in after the formal bidding process.
Brockett: I think we're on the right path. As a software industry professional, two-factor authentication is very important. With elections stuff, you want to move slowly and include a lot of security.
"If it were open source, I think that would be great. But having the RFP based around primarily the city of Boulder's needs was the right thing to do. I wouldn't revisit that decision."

Open-source was not an RFP requirement, btw.
Friend: If we re-started the RFP process, what would that do to timing?
Carr: It's hard to say. We might still be able to get it for 2021 elections; we might not.
We can't get *this* one for 2020 bc we had to have an October start date; we didn't sign the contract until December, Carr says.
Friend: If we cancel this contract, does it impact our credibility?
Carr: I think it would say that we have a problem with our procurement process. Ppl count on the fact that we have a process.
Swetlik: If the RFP was different, it's a different RFP. If we change our minds, it's us changing our minds, not doing the same thing over again.
Friend: This one is uncomfortable, but I'm uncomfortable that Steve Pomerance's suggestions get their own slide. I'm someone that reached out to council a lot as a nobody; as an ex-council member, why does he get preferential treatment? We should be treating everybody the same.
Carr: I could not agree more.
Yates agrees with Brockett to move forward with this process, not waste the $50,000-$100,000 already spent.
Wallach, too: "I'm just not sure what benefit we'd be getting by starting this all over again."

Nagle speaks! "I'll jump on that ship."
Young concurs BUT... doesn't like that we can't have paper and online signatures for the same petition.
Is Denver's e-sign process/system completely off the table?

That's what Boulder considered before starting down the online path, over equity concerns, bc iPads/tablets to gather signatures are expensive.
Denver pulled that offer bc they were in the middle of an election, Carr says; it's still available, but it would be melding two systems.

Someone could still use this system on an iPad; you just need internet access.
Carr: One of the things I love about this system is that ppl can see the petition. We've had instances in Boulder where oil ppl are talking about saving the environment and getting ppl to sign something they haven't even read.
Yates: That's why I want to give ppl the ability to undo their signature. I'm concerned where ppl are talked into signing, then later read it and want to undo it.
Carr: I don't think that's a big ask.
Brockett makes a remark about how IT ppl might disagree.
Friend: I will disagree with that when the time comes, bc you can't undo your paper signature. It's not equal.
Friend again: I don't want to go back, but I was disappointed by the "murkiness" of that working group meeting. I would vote to go back and allow the working group to go back and do their work.
Carr: That working group ended. We had that December meeting as a courtesy.
And they were formed for a different reason.
Friend: Those ppl were very dedicated and informed. The murkiness of those ppl saying we can't undo this is just enough that I would vote to go back.
Swetlik: What are costs per year?
Carr: $40,000 maintenance costs
There may be more, IT lady says, but she doesn't remember them RN.
Swetlik: My only ask is that whoever is sitting here 4 yrs from now, look at this contract and consider that we should be leaders with open source software.
Joseph speaks! She is concerned about the cost, but doesn't want to start over. If there's an issue in the future, can we fix it without going back?
Carr: We plan to have a functioning system in June for testing. There has been a suggestion to open it up to the community, but IT folks aren't in love with that idea bc it will open it up to hacking b4 it's finished.
We will come back with regular updates to council.
Brockett: I want to have a period of community test use but before it goes live with actual petitions.
Carr: I think we can do that, yes.
Young: With Runbeck, for $40K/yr if we have issues, we call them and they fix it. What happens with open source software?
Carr: We use OSS in the city. We have contracts with ppl who can fix things. So it's doable.
Weaver: The most important thing is you have ppl maintaining whatever it is. You can have really lousy open source code where it only got partway to where it needs to be, or great open source code where you've got groups maintaining it.
"I don't think open source or non-open source is the critical thing," Weaver says. "It's are we going to get what we want and need out of the thing?"
Weaver doesn't want to go back. It's "unfortunate" that the process wasn't as transparent as it could have been, but the thing with competitive bidding is that once the RFP is issued, it's out of council's hands unless something really, really wrong is going on. I don't see that.
Also defends the inclusion of Pomerance's suggestions in the staff presentation. He was on the election working group.
More cost information:
$80,000 per year for Runbeck
For MapLight:
$58,000 year 1
$60,000 year 2
$62,000 year 3
Council consensus to move forward with this online petitioning vendor and contract. So: Online petitions available in 2021

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