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News Round-up: e-voting, voter privacy, Commonwealth Club and more

June 18, 2004

Hi Folks,

In this issue of CVF-NEWS:

California Secretary of State issues voter verified paper trail standards

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley this week issued standards for an accessible, voter verified paper audit trail. California is the first state in the nation to issue such standards, which will give vendors the guidance and direction they need to develop this essential voting security feature. The standards have been in development throughout this year and reflect many of the recommendations made by the Secretary of State's Ad Hoc Touch Screen Task Force, which I served on last year.

The standards and a news release are available from the Secretary of State's web site at

Commonwealth Club address Wednesday, July 7 in San Francisco

On Wednesday evening, July 7, I will be addressing the Commonwealth Club of California at their headquarters in San Francisco. I'll be discussing electronic voting risks and solutions during my talk, entitled, "The Voting Rights Struggle of Our Time". This event is open to the public and is free to Club members; the non-member's admission fee is $18. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with a brief reception. The program begins at 6 p.m. and includes a half-hour address and a half-hour of questions and answers moderated by Scott Shafer of KQED Radio. Please join us if you can -- details are online at

CA Task Force on Voter Privacy releases report and recommendations

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's Task Force on Voter Privacy, which was convened last year, released its report and recommendations this week. The report is online at and the news release announcing its recommendations is online at

The task force embraced nearly all of the recommendations the California Voter Foundation made in our recently published study, "Voter Privacy in the Digital Age", which were also presented to the task force at a hearing last November. These include: providing better notice on forms as to which fields are optional and which are required; notifying voters about secondary uses of voter data; increasing penalties for misuse of voter data; and ensuring that the statewide voter registration database is designed in a secure manner.

CVF applauds the task force members for their hard work and thoughtful deliberations. California is the first state in the nation to grapple with the issue of voter privacy, which I anticipate will become more prominent as the 2004 election season heats up.

CVF's "Voter Privacy in the Digital Age" study is now also available on our site in HTML format, as well as a library of all state voter registration form from 2002, at

Update on 14 California counties' recertification status & Nov. election plans

On April 30, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley issued two decertification orders that impact the voting systems used in 14 California counties. Shelley decertified the Diebold TSx voting machine, which was used in four counties on March 2. Two of those counties, San Diego and San Joaquin, are making plans to use a paper-based optical scan system from Diebold in their polling places this November. One of the TSx counties, Solano, has decided to abandon Diebold altogether and is switching to an optical scan system from ES&S. Kern has joined in a lawsuit protesting the Secretary of State's actions that was filed by Riverside County (Sequoia) and also includes San Bernardino (Sequoia) and Plumas (Diebold) counties.

Three counties that use systems from three different vendors have agreed to the Secretary of State's recertification requirements and plan to use paperless electronic voting machines in their polling places under 23 specific conditions. These conditions include a requirement that their vendor make their voting system source code available to the Secretary of State, and that voters in polling places be given the option to cast a paper ballot. These three counties are Merced (ES&S), Santa Clara (Sequoia) and Orange (Hart).

Still unknown are the plans for Alameda, a Diebold county, and Napa, Shasta and Tehama, which are Sequoia counties.

Although Sacramento County was not impacted by the decertification order, it is one of four counties being sued by disability rights groups (see below) for not having accessible voting machines in polling places. Sacramento recently decided to enter into a $12 million contract with ES&S to provide a precinct-based optical scan voting system.

CVF files amicus brief in CA voting tech lawsuit; hearing July 2 in L.A.

On May 18, the California Voter Foundation, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Verified Voting Foundation and Voters Unite! filed an amicus brief in "Benavidez v. Shelley", the lawsuit brought by disability rights groups and a handful of California counties that oppose the Secretary of State's paper trail requirements and decertification orders and are seeking to compel four California counties that use paper based voting systems to purchase new, accessible systems. Although the Help America Vote Act gives counties until 2006 to meet the new federal requirement that there be at least one accessible voting device per polling place, some disability rights groups are suing California state and local election officials for not having such systems now.

Our amicus brief, online at, argues that the case should be dismissed for three reasons:

Other legal documents and news reports relating to this case are available from the Verified Voting web site,

The case was originally scheduled to be heard on June 3; however, Judge Florence Marie Cooper moved the hearing date to July 2 to give parties more time to review and respond to each others' filings. The case is now set to be heard on Friday, July 2 at 9 a.m. in the Roybal Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles.

CA Voting Systems Panel to meet July 12, 19 and 26

California's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel will hold a series of meetings in July to consider various voting systems and components for certification. All of the major vendors in California are included on the agenda -- Sequoia, Diebold, ES&S and Hart -- some with e-voting system components, others with paper-based optical scan system components for certification consideration. Two vendors that make electronic voting systems that include a voter verified paper trail, Avante and Accupoll, are also on the agenda, which is online at All three meetings begin at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Secretary of State's office in downtown Sacramento.

That's more than enough news for now....if you need more, you can always visit my weblog,

Have a great weekend,

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation

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