Here's a good wrap-up from the Boulder Weekly of the state of online petitioning in Boulder. I believe it is part of a series, so stay tuned.
Boulder’s electronic petitioning system is almost ready to go, but is it too little, too late?
By Emma Athena-September 24, 2020
OCT 10, 2019 —
Hi. We sent the below on Sept. 23. I hoped to give you results here, but the City process is in chaos. They promised when they issued a Request for Proposals for the software to announce the winning proposal the week of Sept 23. They still haven't. I finally asked them on Oct 8 to stop the faulty RFP process. According to longtime former Councilman Steve Pomerance, they never secured access to the CO Secretary of State's database, which is essential for the system, and which Denver's inferior eSign system involving iPads uses daily. I asked them to first try Maplight's offer of a free system, similar to Arizona's system for online candidate petitions which has worked fine for 7 years. If Maplight's system when tested is insufficient, THEN they should consider the $400,000 that staff have asked for online petitioning in the new proposed budget.
Also on Oct 8, Steve Pomerance and I were recorded at KGNU radio discussing this fiasco. I'll let you know when that airs, but more importantly where it is on the web.
Please consider sending a quick email to Council (email@example.com) asking them to try Maplight's free system before wasting $400,000 on a system we suspect (zero transparency here) will be proprietary, not open-source code, and so not available to other cities (or states!) who don't want to waste $400,000. If you want more technical info, email me individually.
The unusual letter is from Candidates Adam Swetlick, Rachel Friend, Mark McIntyre, Susan Peterson, and Gala Orba, who I also endorse for Council.
For Immediate Release Contact Evan Ravitz
720 405 5594 firstname.lastname@example.org Boulder, Colorado
5 Boulder Council candidates ask City Staff to stop delaying online petitioning
"We City Council candidates and idea originator Evan Ravitz are respectfully asking City staff to expedite the online petition system for ballot initiatives that 71% of our citizens voted for last November. This ballot measure was put on the ballot by city council unanimously, after being approved unanimously by the City's Campaign Finance and Elections working group.
One of the primary goals was to have the system functioning at an early enough date that it could be used for the 2020 election cycle. We are asking you to do all that you can to make this happen and in doing so, show that there are no further attempts to delay implementation of the voters will.
The attached memo signed by many of you requested another City Charter Amendment, delaying the online petition system by an entire year. All the members of the working group, and City Council, repudiated this.
Our concerns center around the City's Request for Proposals for the online software which says the city would select finalists on August 30th, but an email from Julia Richman now says it will be another month or more. This type of delay could jeopardize use in the 2020 election cycle.
We've had an offer of a free system from Maplight.org for many months. Their President Dan Newman even flew here at their own expense to demonstrate to City staff the prototype they made for us, free. We'd like to know why the city didn't investigate this first. Maplight software already runs as part of the California Secretary of State's website.
We've rarely seen the city say no to free anything.
While we know that the city must undergo standard processes for proposals and bids, we would ask you to answer several questions for us:
1. Among the 9 or 10 proposals submitted, are there other respondents who are competitive with a free system?
2. How many of the respondents offered an open source system?
3. When will finalists be selected and announced?
4. When will the final vendor selection be made so they can finally get to work on this, now over 10 months since the election?"
Other candidates are invited to sign on as well.
Organizations who testified to City Council to put this on the ballot include:
Boulder County Democratic Party
Boulder County Libertarian Party
PLAN Boulder County
Rocky Mtn Peace and Justice Center
Our Revolution Boulder
East Boulder County United
You can see our petition, which has arguments for and some history of this project.
Signers of the petition include Jared Polis, Jonathan Singer, Ron Tupa, Jean Gore, Leroy Moore, Micah Parkin, Mark Williams and Nick Thomas.
Please join our Facebook Group Strengthen Direct Democracy
May the best ideas win.
-- Evan Ravitz: Guide, Photographer, Writer, Editor http://EvanRavitz.com720-403-5594