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California: Alameda County Judge Says Registrar Violated Elections Code and Constitution PDF  | Print |  Email
By Bay City News Wire   
April 18, 2007
A judge has ruled that the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' office violated both the state elections code and three provisions of the California Constitution in denying a request for voting records for close ballot measure in 2004.


Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith, in an April 12 ruling, said the registrar's conduct "constitutes a violation of equal protection, due process and individuals' right to have their vote counted."

Smith will hold a hearing on May 4 to consider sanctions against the registrar, including fines.


The proposition at issue is Berkeley's Measure R, which would have made it mandatory for the city to issue permits to organizations qualifying as medical marijuana dispensaries regardless of zoning.

California: E-voting Machines Face Tough New Standards PDF  | Print |  Email
By Ian Hoffman   
March 31, 2007

This article appeared at and is reposted here with permission of the author.


California's elections chief is proposing the toughest standards for voting systems in the country, so tough that they could banish ATMlike touch-screen voting machines from the state.


For the first time, California is demanding the right to try hacking every voting machine with "red teams" of computer experts and to study the software inside the machines, line-by-line, for security holes.


The proposals are the first step toward fulfilling a promise that Secretary of State Debra Bowen made during her 2006 election campaign to perform a "top-to-bottom" review of all voting machinery used in California.


County elections officials balked at the proposed standards in a letter Monday to Bowen and hinted broadly at the same conclusion reached by several computer scientists: If enforced rigidly, the standards could send many voting machines, especially touch-screens, back for major upgrades. Local elections officials argued that there isn't enough time to fix any deficiencies before the February 2008 presidential primary.

California Secretary of State Releases Draft Criteria for Top-to-Bottom Voting Machine Review PDF  | Print |  Email
By California Secretary of State Debra Bowen   
March 22, 2007

Secretary of State Debra Bowen today unveiled her proposed draft criteria that will be used to conduct a thorough top-to-bottom review of the voting machines certified for use in California.

“The review is designed to restore people’s confidence in the integrity of our electoral process,” said Secretary Bowen, the state’s chief elections officer. “Every California voter has the right to have their vote counted as it was cast. This first-of-its-kind top-to-bottom review is designed to ensure that California voters are being asked to cast their ballots on machines that are secure, accurate, accessible, and auditable.”


The draft criteria, available on the Secretary of State’s website, cover system security issues, access for voters with disabilities, access for minority language voters, and usability for elections officials and poll workers in a variety of situations. Public comments may be submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office through March 30 by mail to Secretary Debra Bowen, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, ATTN: Voting Systems Review, 6th Floor.

San Francisco Tech Experts to Study Electronic Voting PDF  | Print |  Email
By Bay City News Wire   
January 22, 2007
The Department of Elections in San Francisco is enlisting software and system security experts in the community to tackle the question of ensuring the integrity of electronic voting.


A task force announced recently is being created to review source code -- the technical language that amounts to a recipe for a computer program -- in its application to electronic voting machines.


Like other local governments across the nation, San Francisco has paid private vendors to provide electronic voting machines.


Though the machines' computer interfaces have generally won acclaim for voter ease-of-use, problems have sprung up with reports of machines not operating properly, or election results that may have been tipped by faulty collection of actual voter preferences.

California: E-voting Critic Tapped as Deputy Secretary of State PDF  | Print |  Email
By Ian Hoffman, Oakland Tribune   
January 09, 2007

This article appeared on and is reposted here with permission of the author.


A Berkeley lawyer who has fought electronic voting in California and a half-dozen other states has been tapped by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen as her deputy in charge of voting machinery.


Lowell Finley, co-founder and co-director of the election-integrity group Voter Action, has pulled out of lawsuits against elections officials in California, Florida, Ohio and other states in order to accept a post of deputy secretary of state.


Bowen, who was sworn in Monday, still is figuring out the management structure for the office, but she expects Finley to have a lead role in her promised "top-to-bottom review" of voting systems used in the state, according to Chief Deputy Secretary Evan Goldberg.


"She thinks Mr. Finley is an excellent person to help her do that top-to-bottom review," Goldberg said. "He will be the lead person dealing with voting-system technology issues."

California: Asian American Organizations Condemn Anti-Latino Voter Intimidation in Orange County PDF  | Print |  Email
By Asian Pacific American Legal Center Press Release   
October 31, 2006

Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties are denouncing the recent use of mailers to Latino voters in Central Orange County, calling such tactic intimidating and illegal. The groups, the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California (APALC), which also has an office in Orange County, the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), and the Washington D.C.-based Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), also signed on to a letter earlier this week, along with numerous Latino organizations, in requesting an investigation by the U.S. and California Attorneys General into the matter.

The letter, in Spanish only, had apparently been sent last week to Spanish-surnamed naturalized U.S. citizens born in Latin American countries who are registered voters in Orange County. The mailer purportedly warns people that only U.S. citizens are permitted to vote, that voting by immigrants is a crime and a deportable offense, and that a host of immigration restriction organizations has access to a federal computer database of properly registered voters.

"The use of such mailer as an attempt to intimidate registered voters of Hispanic decent is an attack on all minority voters, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are merely exercising their rights to vote under a democratic system," said Stewart Kwoh, executive director of APALC.  "Any effort by any candidate or organization to threaten or intimidate voters in any fashion is an offense to our country's democracy and should not be tolerated," Kwoh continued.

California: Secretary of State Sets Stage for a Repeat of June's Election Disaster in Kern County PDF  | Print |  Email
By Debra Bowen, California State Senator Press Release   
October 16, 2006
Just four months after as many as 500 Kern County voters were prevented from casting ballots in the June primary election thanks to the Secretary of State’s failure to prepare for an electronic voting machine meltdown, the Secretary of State has laid the ground work for a repeat performance of the June disaster.

"It’s clear the Secretary of State didn’t learn a thing from what happened in Kern County during the primary," said Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee and the Democratic Party nominee for Secretary of State.

"It’s pretty astonishing to see him re-issue the very same directive that prevented as many as 500 voters in Kern County from being able to vote in the June primary election," continued Bowen. "Not only is the Secretary refusing to show any leadership to ensure that voters have the ability to cast a ballot when they show up at their polling place, he’s also refusing to learn from the mistake he made four months ago."
California: Problems with The Alameda County Report PDF  | Print |  Email
By Joseph Hall, Univeristy of California, Berkeley   
October 14, 2006

An anlysis of the recent security vulnerability assessment of the Sequoia Voting System, conducted by a firm called Pacific Design Engineering and released by Alameda County, California released on October 12, was posted on Joe Hall's Blog. The following article was adapted from his post with the author's permission.

. analysis It is reposted here with permission of the author. Professor Doug Jones of the University of Iowa has some draft comments on this report here: "Critique of the Alameda County Report".


Alameda County should be given a great deal of credit for commissioning this report. This report should be required reading for all election officials (and their technical staff) that use these Sequoia systems, especially those that don't have robust auditing procedures including a random manual audit of voter-verified paper records of each vote. A close reading of the report shows that the investigation revealed a number of new security vulnerabilities. The good thing is that Alameda county has procedural mitigations that help to reduce the risk that these vulnerabilities pose.


I believe this report provides us with more evidence -- this time in voting technology provided by a vendor other than Diebold -- that the current ITA process overseen by NASED is completely broken. The report reveals that Sequoia isn't the only vendor that has equipment with significant and avoidable vulnerabilities associated with secure systems design and poor use of cryptography.

California: Voters File Suit To Ensure Promised Testing Of Sequoia Voting Machines PDF  | Print |  Email
By VoterAction   
October 05, 2006

Alameda Voters File Suit Against County to Ensure Anti-Hacking Testing of Sequoia E-Voting Systems Before Nov. 7

Board of Supervisors mandated “security vulnerability testing” by a third party – yet contract defers to Sequoia on testing and County Counsel can provide no proof that the system is safe from hacks
A group of Alameda County, California voters, coordinated by the nonprofit Voter Action, filed suit today in Alameda County Superior Court to block the use of the county’s new Sequoia touch screen electronic voting system in November and in future elections until the system has passed independent, expert security vulnerability testing. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to require thorough, independent vulnerability testing as a condition before payment – but the county’s contract with Sequoia, from after the board’s vote, defers to Sequoia on which tests to conduct and does not stipulate that the testing be done by a third party.
“Alameda voters are demanding the right to a fair election – one that ensures that the candidate with the most votes wins”, said Robert Friese, counsel for the plaintiffs, and a partner in Shartsis Friese, LLP in San Francisco, which is providing pro bono legal support on the suit. “The Registrar of Voters has the charge to ensure election security.”

California: Governor Signs Four Election Reform Bills Into Law PDF  | Print |  Email
By Debra Bowen, California state Senator Press Release   
October 02, 2006

Despite Vetoing Initiative Reform Measure & Bill to Make it Easier for Students to Work at the Polls, Governor Signs Four Measures to Improve Transparency of the Electoral Process

Beginning next year, elections in California will be subjected to more stringent auditing requirements and the electoral process as a whole will be significantly more open and transparent thanks to four measures by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee that the Governor signed into law shortly before the September 30th deadline to act on bills.

"By improving the auditing requirements and opening up the process, these measures should begin to restore voters’ faith in the electoral process," said Bowen.

California: An Election Official With Integrity Who Cares PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
September 22, 2006
San Mateo Co. California's Warren Slocum Makes The Right Decision For The Right Reason


While we don't shy away from talking about the corrupt, the wrong thinking, the un-caring elections officials in our country we don't often get a chance to recognize those who actually do a good job and show that they really do care. I would guess that 90% of the elections officials fall into the category of the caring but it is that 10% who get talked about. I want to change that a bit and talk about one who has made a good decision.


Warren Slocum (pictured at right) is the Chief Elections Director of San Mateo County, California. The county has recently decided that they will use Hart Intercivic eSlate Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines at the polls from now on. That's not a good decision because the eSlates are just as bad as the rest, but it was a decision made and we have to move on.


It has just been reported in the San Mateo Daily Journal that Slocum has decided that there is not enough time for him to be assured that his voters and poll workers can become acclimated to the new voting machines by the general election in November. The polls were supposed to have three to six of the eSlates but now voters will find only one eSlate and paper ballots. Slocum is giving up quick results reporting for integrity and we applaud that.


If only Cuyahoga County, Ohio elections officials had decided on integrity instead of rushing out voting machines that were unfamiliar. If only Maryland elections officials had decided on integrity instead of rushing out an unproven and ripe for failure e-poll book device. And the same "If only…" can be echoed all over the country this primary season.


Thank you Warren Slocum for having integrity and for putting your voters and poll workers first.

California: Voter Confidence Resolution Adopted By Palo Alto City Council PDF  | Print |  Email
By Dave Berman, We Do Not Consent   
September 19, 2006

This article appeared on the We Do Not Consent Blog. It is reposted with permission of the author.


By a 5-3 vote on Monday night, the City Council of Palo Alto, CA adopted the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR). Palo Alto joins Arcata, CA as the second city to declare that current election conditions ensure inconclusive results, and:

Whereas inconclusive results, by definition, mean that the true outcome of an election cannot be known, there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from such elections;
Inconclusive outcomes and no basis for confidence are two of the three main points emphasized in the Guide To The Voter Confidence Resolution. The VCR is a template to be customized in each community. The Guide's third main point is that the legitimacy, or "just Power" of government, derives exclusively from the Consent of the Governed. This concept stems from the Declaration of Independence. The template and Arcata's language include this provision:
When elections are conducted under conditions that prevent conclusive outcomes, the Consent of the Governed is not being sought. Absent this self-evident source of legitimacy, such Consent is not to be assumed or taken for granted.

California: Alameda County Voters Demand Security Testing of Sequoia Electronic Voting Equipment PDF  | Print |  Email
By VoterAction   
September 01, 2006
County Registrar must provide Board of Supervisors' mandated security vulnerability testing

A group of Alameda County voters has written to the Alameda County Counsel in an effort to halt the county's payment for or use of the Sequoia touch screen electronic voting system in
November and future elections until the system has passed independent, expert security vulnerability testing. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors required this testing as a condition before payment to Sequoia Voting Systems in its vote on June 8th. In their attorney's letter to David MacDonald, Alameda County's Acting Registrar of Voters, the voters requested
that the Sequoia system be submitted to independent testing to ensure that it is not vulnerable to hacking that could alter election results, or face a legal action asking the CA Superior Court in Alameda to order the testing.

"Alameda County's current Purchase Agreement with Sequoia appears to have been signed on June 16th; little more than a week after the Board of Supervisors added the provision for the independent security test. This provision was not included in the final purchase contract, and as of today, the necessary testing has not been performed nor is it planned," said Robert Friese, counsel for the plaintiffs, and a partner in Shartsis Friese, LLP in San Francisco. "It is hard to understand why the Registrar of Voters would not want to test the Sequoia touch screen system, when he has support of the Board of Supervisors, and when serious questions have been raised about its reliability and trustworthiness".

"Alameda voters are demanding the right to a fair election -- one that ensures that the candidate with the most votes wins", Mr. Friese said. "The Registrar of Voters has the charge to ensure election security, and the voters will proceed with a legal action if he side-steps this
California: "It's Outrageous," Says Busby On Dismissal Of Election Contest PDF  | Print |  Email
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog   
August 31, 2006
Strong Statement, in Wake of Lawsuit Tossed on 'Jurisdictional Grounds', a First Since Illegally Adminstered June 6th U.S. House Special Election!

'North County Times' Provides Decent Coverage of Debacle…


This article was posted on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.



"It's outrageous," says Francine Busby, "that this judge just said the state of California doesn't have jurisdiction over our own elections, over this election."

Busby's remarks, in a report today by William Finn Bennett in the North County Times, were a suprising departure from her previously guarded stance concerning the challenge of the June 6th U.S. House Special Election between herself and Brian Bilbray.


"What happened today should be of concern to all voters," Busby reportedly said.


Bennett's coverage of yesterday's debacle in the San Diego County courtroom where Judge Yuri Hoffman dismissed the election contest in support of the defendants' arguments that the U.S. House, not the voters or courts of California, have jurisdication to adjudicate election challenges after the House has already seated a member, is quite good. Indeed, it was a refreshing departure from previous sloppy, sometimes wholly inaccurate and occassionally entirely partisan North County Times reports and commentary on the case (see this embarrasing commentary from Jim Trageser for the most egregious.)

California: Measure To Improve and Open Up Election Audit Process Heads To Governor PDF  | Print |  Email
By California State Senator Debra Bowen   
August 31, 2006

Closing a loophole in California’s election auditing procedures and opening the entire process to the public are the goals of SB 1235 by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach, pictured at right), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee, which cleared the full Senate today on a bipartisan 40-0 vote and now heads to the Governor’s desk.


"Nearly half of California’s voters use an absentee ballot to vote and thousands of others take advantage of in-person early voting opportunities before every election, so the fact that some counties don’t include nearly half of the ballots cast in any given election in the auditing process undermines the integrity of the audit and the election itself," said Bowen. "The 1% manual audit is designed to ensure the electronic voting machines and the ballot counters tallied the results correctly, but there’s no way to conduct a meaningful review if more than half of the ballots cast aren’t subject to the 1% audit requirement.”


Under California law, elections officials are required to conduct a public manual tally of the ballots cast in at least 1% of the precincts to check the accuracy of the votes tabulated by the electronic or mechanical voting systems.  The law also requires the precincts subject to the audit to be randomly selected by elections officials, but it doesn’t define “random.”
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