A new bill that would grant unprecedented and unchecked powers to the California Sec. of State --- including those that could allow him or her to approve new e-voting systems for use in actual elections with no testing at all --- was approved late last week by the state legislature along partisan lines. It is now on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for his signature or his veto.
The Governor should veto SB 360, a sweeping, dangerous, ill-conceived and dishonestly presented piece of legislation, passed with little debate in public or in either chamber of the state legislature.
The measure has been, and is being, deceptively sold to the public and to state lawmakers as necessary to allow CA counties --- specifically Los Angeles County --- to "develop, own and operate public voting systems". In fact, the bill does much much more than that. What it actually does, among other things, is end the long-standing requirement that all electronic voting systems used in the state be tested and certified at the federal level before being allowed for use in California.
The bill also includes a provision allowing for new voting systems to be used in "pilot programs" during "a legally binding election", before the systems have been certified by the state in any way. That, in effect, could allow a new system to be used in an actual election, by actual voters in the Golden State, without any independent testing whatsoever, depending on a Secretary of State's interpretation of this poorly drafted bill. That should be a serious concern to all voters --- particularly given the massive flaws already discovered in e-voting systems used across the state (and country) that were subjected to independent testing by both federal and state authorities before use.
In other words, SB 360, as approved by the state legislature, does away with all federal testing for voting systems used in California, and, to make matters worse, grants the Secretary of State sole power to approve e-voting systems for use in actual elections --- even without certification testing by state auditors either.
As if all of that is not bad enough, the bill's Democratic author, state Senator Alex Padilla --- a leading 2014 candidate for CA Sec. of State himself --- has been misleadingly pitching the bill as necessary in order to allow for the use of non-proprietary, publicly-owned voting systems in the state. But, in fact, CA already allows the use of non-proprietary, publicly-owned voting systems. In fact, the voting system currently in use across L.A. County --- the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, with more voters than 36 actual states --- is already publicly-owned!
Such facts were not been mentioned by Padilla during his office's advocacy for the bill, and they have failed to respond to our multiple queries on that point and several others since the bill was initially introduced earlier this year. Instead, the state Senator and SoS candidate continues to dishonestly pitch the bill to the public, as evidenced again in his Friday press release (posted at the bottom of this article), touting the bill's approval by the state legislature.
"Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections," Padilla is deceptively quoted, in bold text, as saying in a number of press releases in support of the bill, including Friday's release. He then adds misleadingly (since we already have such a system here in Los Angeles): "A public voting system will be more transparent, instill public trust, be more accountable and provide greater access to all voters."
In short, SB 360 is a dangerous, irresponsible bill which fails to learn from the recent history of previously irresponsible and/or corrupt Secretaries of State, completely rewrites the state's election code to allow for less testing, rather than more, of the state's already-buggy and insecure collection of e-voting systems, and it's being sold dishonestly to the public and lawmakers by a legislator who is very likely to be the recipient of its new, sweeping, unprecedented, executive powers...