The use of power to defeat transparency attacks the fundamental democratic principle that guarantees that voting is secret, but counting ballots is public. Throughout the history of the Republic, the advocates of fair elections have battled the barons of power who seek to profit at the public's expense. This most recent assault on democracy has attracted the attention of Sen. Chuck Schumer who has announced that the Senate Rules and Administration Committee will be investigating the Diebold/ES&S sale. Blackbox Voting has sent a Letter of Complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to protest.
The vendors are united against transparency and are working directly with bureaucrats in county election departments and the Secretary of State's office to fight off public records requests and to stay in control of elections, and to count votes secretly with proprietary software. In fact the Election Center funded by vendors has set up a private network of Secretary of State Organizations and Election Official organizations for training. The EAC, a weak federal body that sets up standards for voting machine accuracy is heavily influenced by vendors. Our state legislators face combined pressure to block election transparency and accountability laws from the associations that represent counties and election officials as well as a phalanx of intense lobbyists from Diebold-Premier-Sequoia.
It was thought that Arizona was moving toward greater transparency with the passage of a hand count audit law. However we have seen numerous examples of successful attempts to subvert the intent of election transparency and accountability laws locally and nationally.
Anyone believing that it will be easy to change the vendor control of elections by passing state laws should soberly consider how easily Governor Schwarzenegger with a flick of a pen allied himself with the voting vendor industry against public transparency. California is the nation's leader in the drive for public transparency and accountability. California is the state that elected Debra Bowen Secretary of State, the first in the country to conduct a top to bottom review of voting systems with some of the nation's top computer scientists.
Locally and nationally election integrity is suffering setback after setback even though the Arizona Attorney General declared electronic voting machines "flawed" and even though the general public has learned about the egregious software flaws that allow easy and quick insider access to change vote totals.
Read on about the Governor's vetoes.
By Brad Friedman
CA SoS Bowen 'laments' rejection of 'common-sense election bills aimed at enhancing government transparency'
So do we. Please help demand Bowen now take corrective action on her own...
According to a press release from CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen [PDF] today, CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed one bill for improvement to state election law, while using his veto pen to terminate three other "common-sense elections bills ... aimed at enhancing government transparency."
The one he approved will allow emergency workers in the field, such as fire fighters battling a wild fire, to vote from wherever they may be at the time. That's good. But Bowen "laments" --- as does The BRAD BLOG --- the other ones which she supported, and which he, incredibly enough, vetoed. He said hasta la vista to three bills which would have been very helpful in adding much-needed "common-sense" checks and balances to the nearly unabated rise of the machines in our electoral system...
From Bowen's press release:
Also yesterday, the Governor vetoed several common-sense elections bills sponsored by Secretary of State Bowen and aimed at enhancing government transparency.
AB 84 (Hill) would have allowed vote-by-mail (VBM) voters to find out if their ballots were counted and if not, why not. VBM ballots cannot be counted if they arrive after the polls close on Election Day or if the signature on the ballot envelope does not match the signature on file.
"A similar law already exists for voters who cast provisional ballots, so letting vote-by-mail voters know if their votes counted would have cost little or nothing," said Secretary Bowen. "If voters knew why their mail-in ballots were not counted, they could make changes that would prevent their votes from being rejected in the future."
AB 330 (Saldaña) would have required counties to provide public notice of the opportunity to review the preparation, testing and operation of ballot tabulating devices. Current law requires this testing be open to the public, but it does not require notice of when the testing will occur.
SB 541 (Pavley) would have enhanced transparency by requiring ballot printers and voting system vendors to notify the Secretary of State when they discover previously undisclosed flaws in their products. This bill was spurred in part by the revelation that a voting system software error caused 197 ballots to be inadvertently deleted from Humboldt County's initial results in the November 4 election. Upon discovery of the software error, Humboldt County corrected its election results.
While all three vetoes here are maddening, and an embarrassment to CA frankly (Really? Tests must be public, but the public doesn't need to be notified that they are happening??) the last one mentioned above should further encourage Bowen to do the right thing on her own by demanding accountability from Diebold for fraudulently and knowingly selling voting systems to the state (and 34 others!) which violate federal voting system guidelines by deleting ballots, allowing audit logs to be deleted without notice, and other epic fails for any voting system.
The Governor is clearly not going to do it. So unless Bowen, who is up for re-election next year, takes clear action, the message here is that voting machines companies can do virtually any damned thing they want and get away with it with little more than a slap on the wrist, if that much. And they can keep doing it, because nobody is actually going to stop them.
Your support of VelvetRevolution.us' DieboldReturnOurMoney.com campaign --- demanding the company return tax-payer money spent on faulty machines, that Bowen decertify those systems across the state, and that AG Jerry Brown (likely to run for Governor next year) investigate and prosecute for fraud where appropriate --- is much appreciated and clearly much needed!
Click here to send emails demanding action be taken by Diebold, Bowen and Brown only if, unlikely Schwarzenegger apparently, you give a damn about a transparent democracy and a government of the people, by the people, and for the people!
[Hat-tip Tom Courbat of SAV R VOTE for the heads up on Bowen's press release and Schwarzenegger's vetoes. DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us.]
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UPDATE: This is really pathetic. Here's the veto message from Schwarzenegger on the bill that would have required voting machine companies to inform the Sec. of State of "each defect, fault, or failure" the company discovered in its voting system, as used in the state of California...
BILL NUMBER: SB 541
VETOED··· DATE: 10/12/2009
To the Members of the California State Senate:
I am returning Senate Bill 541 without my signature.
This bill is the result of an unacceptable situation in Humboldt County, where the county was notified of a defect in the voting software but failed to address the problem. This resulted in 197 votes being deleted. Because the Secretary of State (SOS) is not notified when there is a flaw in a voting system, there was no safety net to ensure that voters were not impacted.
The SOS inspects ballot manufacturing facilities before approving them to do business in California. This bill would appropriately include the SOS in a notification of equipment defects during and after this process. However, this bill goes beyond insuring appropriate notification and imposes substantial civil penalties on voting system vendors.
Many of the technical changes in this bill are acceptable, and I look forward to seeing a bill in the future that balances appropriate disclosure, without unnecessarily restricting a company's ability to do business in California.
Therefore I am unable to sign this bill.
The comment "this bill goes beyond insuring appropriate notification and imposes substantial civil penalties on voting system vendors" is telling.
The "substantial civil penalties on voting system vendors" that the bill would have required would be for systems that were in VIOLATION OF STATE LAW. Geez, would hate to "restrict a company's ability to do business in California" by requiring them to follow the rule of law and paying a --- rather modest --- fine where they failed to do so.
Apparently former, failed SoS Bruce McPherson's Diebold people have simply moved from the SoS' office to the Governor's office. Appalling.