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Update on CA voter verified paper trail legislation

August 20 , 2004

Hi Folks,

California's legislative session is coming to a close soon, and it's down to the wire for hundreds of bills, including legislation that, if enacted, will require electronic voting systems to include a voter verified paper record of every electronic ballot cast.

Senators Ross Johnson (R-Orange) and Don Perata (D-Alameda) authored Senate Bill 1438, which would require all electronic voting machines to produce a voter verified paper trail by January 2006, in time for the next statewide election. The bill would also prohibit the Secretary of State from certifying paperless electronic voting systems after January 1, 2005, and would prohibit counties from purchasing such voting systems after January 1, 2006.

SB 1438 has enjoyed bipartisan support throughout the legislative process, and passed out of all committees that heard it and out of the Senate on unanimous votes. Not a single “no” vote has been cast against this bill.

However, last week, the bill stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which expressed concerns about the cost of the paper trail reform. Because the Appropriations Committee failed to pass the bill, it missed a deadline and was considered “dead”.

The authors have worked over the past week to revive this effort and are hoping to still get this bill passed out of Assembly Appropriations. As a back-up measure, Senators Johnson and Perata have identified another bill, AB 2454, to amend with the language of SB 1438. Those amendments were filed today and include changes that address the Appropriations Committee's concerns. Specifically, AB 2454 now stipulates that state bond funds and federal funds for upgrading voting systems be used to finance the voter verified paper trail rather than state general funds.

The new paper trail bill has been co-authored by 92 of the 140 members of the Legislature, comprising two-thirds of the Legislature. The amended version of AB 2454 will be available online shortly at

So, there are now two bills in the Legislature to mandate a voter-verified paper trail, both of which enjoy strong support across partisan lines. I will be tracking both of these bills over the upcoming weeks; updates will be posted to my blog at

Have a great weekend,

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation

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This page was first published on August 20, 2004 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
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