Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Changes at the Secretary of State's office

On Monday, Bill Wood was named undersecretary of state as well as chair of the Voting Systems and Procedures panel, which is in charge of reviewing and certifying California voting equipment. There is also news that John Mott-Smith, longtime head of the Secretary of State's election division, is leaving his position and Brad Clark, registrar of voters for Alameda County will replace him.

Excerpts from today's Oakland Tribune story:


Clark, a former state elections analyst and 12-year registrar viewed as a dean among local elections officials, served on McPherson's transition team.


Clark persuaded Alameda County to pay $12 million and become the first major urban jurisdiction on the West Coast to buy touch-screen voting machines from Diebold Election Systems Inc.

At least three elections in 2003 and 2004 were marred by technical difficulties including incorrect vote tallies and breakdowns in voting machinery.

Clark chastised Diebold representatives for those failings, and he privately criticized Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell for writing a fund-raising letter to Ohio Republicans that promised to "deliver Ohio's electoral votes" to the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.

But critics of electronic voting nonetheless have questioned Clark's independence from Diebold and his continued faith in paperless electronic voting.

Clark often has said new mandates, now written into state law, for e-voting machines to produce a paper record that voters can double-check for accuracy are a bad idea.

McPherson, on the other hand, repeatedly has voiced support for the so-called voter-verified paper trail.

"I hope that once Mr. Clark is chief of the elections division he will work to implement the voter verified paper record requirement as mandated by California law and convince other registrars to stop resisting this much needed reform," said e-voting critic Kim Alexander, president of the Davis-based California Voter Foundation.

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