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Round-up: paper trail progress in CA, NV; CA HAVA funds

September 15, 2004

Hi Folks:

In this CVF-NEWS Round-up:

California paper trail legislation update

Senate Bill 1438 (Johnson/Perata), which would require that all electronic voting machines produce a voter verified paper record by the next statewide election, passed unanimously in the California Legislature on August 27.

The bill is now before Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has until September 30th to sign or veto the bill, or let it become law without his signature.

SB 1438 is co-authored by Senators Ross Johnson (R-Orange) and Don Perata (D-Alameda). It passed unanimously on every floor vote and in every committee hearing. Just a month ago the bill was proclaimed "dead", stuck in a fiscal committee, but Senators Johnson and Perata successfully revived it before the end of this year's legislative session.

If SB 1438 is signed into law, it will codify California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's November 2003 order to require a voter verified paper trail and will advance that requirement by one election.

Those wishing to contact the governor regarding this or any other bill can do so in a number of ways, but the most effective means will be using his online web form, at:

or sending a letter via U.S. mail to:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Commonwealth Club address on KQED FM tonight, 9/15

Tonight at 8 p.m. KQED-FM will broadcast my July 7, 2004 Commonwealth Club address, "Electronic Voting Reform -- The Voting Rights Struggle of Our Time". KQED can be heard in the San Francisco Bay Area at 88.5 FM, and in Sacramento at 89.3 FM. The program will also be webcast live online at KQED.

The program includes my half-hour address, followed by a half-hour of Q&A with the audience moderated by KQED's Scott Schafer. If you'd like to read my remarks, please visit our web site.

Nevada implements electronic voting reform

On September 7, Nevada held the first-ever statewide election that utilized a voter verified paper record to back up electronic ballots. Nevada purchased touchscreen voting machines from Sequoia Voting Systems that include an add-on printer which produces a paper record of the voter's electronic ballot. The attached printer allows voters to view a paper record of their ballot, which is printed behind glass.

On August 28 I attended a Las Vegas news conference hosted by Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller and the Clark County elections department. I asked at the news conference whether the state would be using the voter verified paper records to verify the final, computerized vote totals and was told that they would. After a briefing and demonstration of the system, we toured the elections warehouse. I also visited two early voting sites, spoke to many voters who were using the new voting system and took lots of pictures on my digital camera.

The reports on Nevada's new voting system have been very positive. Nevada was the only state in the nation to receive an "A+" for its voting system in a recent review by the the Free Congress Foundation. For more information about Nevada's e-voting reform progress, see:

-- Sept. 8 AP news story

-- Sequoia press release

-- The Free Congress Foundation Voter Readiness Report Card

California HAVA funds update

In recent weeks, questions have arisen about California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's spending of Federal "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA) funds. In August, it was reported that the Secretary of State had spent $500,000 in HAVA funds on contracts that went to people who formerly worked on his campaign, as well as contracts that were awarded without competitive bidding. The Legislature authorized its auditor to investigate the expenditures, and the Governor and Legislature have responded to these questions by tightening controls over the flow of HAVA funds.

Initially, the Governor froze $45 million in HAVA money; recently, $15.2 million was released to fund what the Governor's Department of Finance views as "mission critical" activities that support the November 2 election. These activities include support to counties to fund pollworker training and recruitment, as well as several security measures ordered by the Secretary of State, such as a security review of voting system source code and parallel monitoring. On Sept. 10, the Secretary of State's office submitted a request to the Department of Finance to release $30 million in additional funding to support November election activities, including funding for projects such as the popular Easy Voter Guide and voter education grants to many voter outreach organizations.

For more information see the Secretary of State's Sept. 3 news release

That's all the news for now. Have a great week,

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation

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