Debra Bowen’s voting system leadership

Wow. Debra Bowen is running for Secretary of State in California, after her term in the state senate. Einsteinia on DailyKos has compiled a long list of Bowen’s legislative accomplishments. Having put in some leather-pump-miles in the Texas Capitol trying to educate legislators about electronic voting, it is just stunning and incredibly gratifying to see a political figure who is so savvy on these issues.
Her achivements include passing bills to use the voter verified paper trail in audits, making sure the audits include absentee and provisional votes, requiring the paper used for the audit trail to be readable for 22 months, requiring a statewide recount policy, enabling citizens to inspect voting systems.
In Texas, we got bipartisan support for a paper trail bill but got shot down because of leadership opposition. Explaining the details — why you need an audit trail, why you actually need to do the audits, why the paper needs to be good, why you need citizen oversight — these were all topics that took a lot of explaining. Meanwhile, Bowen has been leading.
Here’s a selection, a longer list is at the DailyKos link above.
SB 11 – Prohibits a voting equipment manufacturer or vendor or their agents from making campaign contributions to candidates for state or local office. Also precludes the Secretary of State from supporting or opposing candidates or ballot measures. Passed Senate in 2005, killed in Assembly in 2006.
SB 370 – Requires elections officials, when doing the 1% manual count required by law, to use the AVVPAT produced by electronic machines. Signed into law in 2005.
SB 1235 – This is an expansion of last year’s SB 370 (Bowen). The manual count law requires the votes in 1% of the precincts (with some exemptions) selected at random to be counted manually and matched against the results from the electronic tabulator. This bill: 1) Requires all “early voting” center, absentee votes, and provisional votes to be included into this tally; Requires the select the “random” precincts using a randomly generated number method and/or based on regulations drafted by the SOS; 3) Requires the audits to be public; and 4) Requires the results of the audits to be made public. Will be sent to Governor’s desk by 8/31/06.
SB 1519- Requires the SOS to promulgate recount procedures. There is no state law or regulation on how exactly recounts are conducted. Instead, the procedures (they vary by voting system) are laid out in an informal “best practices” manual between the SOS and the counties. This requires the SOS to promulgate official regulations, so everyone (including the public) will know how it’s done. Will be sent to Governor’s desk by 8/31/06.
SB 1725 – Requires counties to “track” absentee ballots so a voter can call in and check to see if their ballot arrived. Will be sent to Governor’s desk by 8/31/06.
SB 1747 – Voting machine inspection. Right now, the law restricts the ability of people to inspect voting machines, limiting it to county central committees who can send in “data processing specialists or engineers.” This bill expands it to every qualified political party, removes the requirement that they be “data processing specialists or engineers,” and permits up to 10 people from a “bonafide collection of citizens.” Pending on Governor’s desk. He must act by 9/30/06.
SB 1760 – Precludes the Secretary of State from certifying any voting system unless the paper ballots and the accessible voter-verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT) retain their integrity and readability for 22 months. That’s how long, under current law, elections officials are required to retain these documents. Also referred to as the “Elephant Gestation Bill,” since 22 months is the gestation period for a baby elephant. Pending on Governor’s desk. He must act by 8/26/06.

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