Tuesday, June 21, 2005

SoS Bruce McPherson seeks public comment on vote auditing legislation

California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson is seeking input from the public on legislation currently pending in the California Legislature to address voter verified paper audit trail standards for electronic voting machines. His request for public comment is available on the Secretary of State's web site; comments must be received no later than this Friday, June 24.

Two bills are at issue here: Senate Bill 370, authored by Senator Debra Bowen, and Assembly Bill 1636, authored by Assembly Member Tom Umberg. Both bills would require in statute that the voter verified paper audit trail be used to perform the one percent manual recount that is required under state law. Both bills have passed out of their houses of origin and have gained unanimous, bipartisan support so far in the Legislature.

Many activists who have worked on the paper trail assumed that once it was mandated, it would of course be the record that county officials would use to verify the accuracy of the computerized vote count, since printing electronic ballot images and comparing those to computerized counts is a completely meaningless exercise. Unfortunately, some county registrars intend to continue this practice, even after voter verified paper audit trails are mandated.

SB 370 and AB 1636 would require by law that the voter verified paper audit trail be used to perform the manual count. CVF will be submitting a letter to the Secretary of State urging him to support these changes in the law so that it is clear to vendors, election officials and voters that the manual count be performed in a manner that truly verifies the accuracy of software vote counts.

Anyone who wishes to weigh in on this matter is encouraged to do so. Comments can be addressed to:

Constituent Affairs

Secretary of State's Executive Division

1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Via fax: 916-653-9675

Via email: constituentaffairs@ss.ca.gov

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