Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bakersfield Californian endorses SB 370

Over the weekend the Bakersfield Californian published an editorial urging Governor Schwarzenegger to sign SB 370. The Bakersfield Californian's audience is Kern county, where local election officials purchased 1,350 Diebold TSx electronic voting machines at a cost of nearly $5 million prior to state certification. Those machines have sat unused since March 2004 while Diebold attempts to win state certification and will have to be retrofitted with a voter verified paper trail to meet new state voting security laws.

The Bakersfield Californian is the third newspaper in a major e-voting county to endorse SB 370 -- other endorsements have come from the San Jose Mercury News in Santa Clara county and the Riverside Press Enterprise. Both Riverside and Santa Clara counties have made huge electronic voting equipment purchases in recent years. Fortunately the local newspapers in these counties are paying attention to voting security issues and supporting public auditing of their voting systems in order to improve voter confidence.

Excerpts from the Bakersfield Californian editorial are featured below.


Who counts? Machines? Voters?

If electronic touch-screen voting machines can't do the job, just unplug them. Don't compromise the electoral system to make it easier for bureaucrats to count the votes.


The 2000 Presidential Election fiasco involving punch-card voting in Florida prompted many states, including California, to move to the use of electronic voting machines. But challenges to the machines' accuracy and the inability to manually recount votes in a disputed election led to requiring electronic machines produce a "paper trail."

County election officials now claim printouts are unnecessary and inconvenient because they are prone to jam and are an administrative nightmare. They also say the accuracy of electronic machines should not have to be checked manually a 40-year-old procedure of hand-counting 1 percent of ballots cast in any election.

State Sen. Debra Bowen, who heads the Senate Elections and Appropriations Committee, and Kim Alexander, who heads the non-profit California Voter Foundation, are outraged.

Elections officials claim verifying computerized voting with paper would be "onerous and time-consuming," Alexander told The Oakland Tribune. "What they fail to realize is that elections are not conducted for their convenience, but for transferring power between the people and government."

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