Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CA SoS Debra Bowen wins JFK Profile in Courage award

California's Secretary of State, Debra Bowen has won this year's John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award! Kudos to Secretary Bowen, who has indeed shown enormous political courage and leadership in her efforts to improve voting equipment security in California.

This Associated Press story provides additional details. Excerpts are below.


BOSTON (AP) — The secretaries of state in California and Ohio were named winners of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Tuesday for challenging the reliability of electronic voting systems.

Debra Bowen severely restricted the use of electronic voting systems in California six months before the Feb. 5 presidential primary, after computer scientists at the University of California concluded they could be hacked.

Many county registrars were furious with her decision, which they said left them little time to get ready for the early primary.
The switch overwhelmed election workers in some of the state's most populous counties, stretching the election night count into the next morning.

Bowen said the award vindicated the work of many who had preceded her in questioning the reliability of electronic voting systems, "in many cases having been told they were off base or crazy."

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner required counties using electronic voting systems to give paper ballots to voters who requested them in the primary election held this month.

She also ordered county officials to replace their electronic voting systems with paper ballots and optical scan technology by the November general election.

The awards will be presented May 12 at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston by Caroline Kennedy and her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

The Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to public servants who have made decisions of conscience without regard for personal or professional consequences.

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