. April 17 Victories for Open Voting | Open Voting Consortium

April 17 Victories for Open Voting

Our efforts to bring about transparency in the vote counting process were successful on two fronts -- San Francisco and Sacramento. AB 852 won the vote 5-2 in the Assembly elections committee. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted against buying a new Sequoia (with DRE) voting system, and decided to stay with the existing optical scan system with the AutoMARK ballot marking device.

I was in the Capitol Building all afternoon. I testified for AB 852, using our Diebold voting machine as a prop. "See the InfraRed port? This machine is capable of communicating with a laptop across the room. Do you want to vote on a machine like this? This machine was certified but all the testing is a big secret." I had a lot of ammunition -- didn't need half of it.

Last year, Secretary of State McPherson fought our bill (AB 2097 carried by the Jackie Goldberg -- the great, but termed-out Jackie Goldberg) all the way. This year, we have the new Secretary of State on our side. Assemblymember Krekorian said that Secretary of State Debra Bowen supports the principles behind AB 852.

Then all the Microsoft shills showed up to testify against the bill. No one said, "I work for Microsoft," but they may as well have had "Microsoft shill" tattooed on their foreheads. It was appalling. Their testimony was appalling. "This will hurt business. This will stifle innovation is election technology. This will make the voting system unsafe."

Guess what? We don't conduct elections to create profit centers for business; we don't need innovative vote counting methods; computer code must stand up to scrutiny in order to be secure. That's the truth. Today, the truth prevailed. The truth doesn't always prevail, but today it did in Sacramento.

Last year, our bill was held in the Appropriations committee. This is another big difference. Mark Leno, one of our co-authors on AB 2097, is now chair of this committee. Before I knew this, I had already relaxed the schedule for disclosure so it would not run into the problems we had last year in this committee. We have a much better chance this year in Appropriations. Assuming success there, we'll go to a floor vote in late May, then on to the Senate.

After the hearing, I received a copy of the letter from Secretary Bowen to Assemblymember Krekorian, and she says, "I look forward to working with you on AB 852 as it makes its way through the legislative process."

This is good news. I think we all figured she would be supportive. It's nice to see this. Assemblymember Paul Krekorian met with her the day before the hearing. Nice going Paul!

The actions of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SF BoS) today may have been even more significant. You may remember that the SF BoS said they wouldn't approve the Sequoia contract without language in the contract requiring full public disclosure of their technology.

We are working on getting "open source," or, at least, public disclosure to be part of any contract for a voting system with the City of San Francisco. This could have an impact before our proposed state law would take effect.

Thank you again for your support. I don't think there is anything important I can do by myself. Success for all of these accomplishments is due to our supporters.

Alan Dechert

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