Widely syndicated writer calls measure 'prominent entry in unofficial sweepstakes for year's worst new state law'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2013, 6:09pm PT  

Too bad this wasn't published previously...before California's ill-considered and incredibly dangerous and deceptively sold SB 360 was signed by CA's Gov. Jerry Brown over the weekend (despite our advocacy and warnings against it.)

In his syndicated "California Focus" column (appearing in 93 papers around the state), Thomas D. Elias opines today on the partisan-passed election reform bill we've been yelling about for months now here at The BRAD BLOG. He accurately describes SB 360 as "a prominent entry in the unofficial sweepstakes to determine this year's worst new state law".

From his column, "New law threatens vote-counting reliability", today...

Here's the possible threat: This measure will allow the California secretary of state to approve new electronic voting systems that have received no certification at all for use in actual elections. It also ends a long-standing requirement that all electronic voting systems be certified at the federal level before they're used here and allows counties to develop their own voting systems.

This bill cried out for a veto from Brown, considering the problems encountered by electronic voting systems during much of the last decade. Comprehensive testing demonstrated that many could be hacked, with the possibility that programming might be inserted so that - for one example - when a voter touched a screen favoring one candidate, the vote actually went into someone else's column.

Elias continues by pointing out the dishonest way in which the bill was represented to lawmakers and the public by its main sponsor, state Sen. Alex Padilla (D) who also happens to be a leading 2014 candidate for CA Secretary of State and, therefore, a potential main beneficiary of the unprecedented, sweeping new executive powers that the law will grant to the state's SoS.

As he writes...

Why tinker with voting machines now? Here's what the new law's legislative sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of the San Fernando Valley, an MIT graduate and once the youngest president of the Los Angeles City Council, said in press releases as his measure easily wended its way through the Legislature:

"Most California counties purchase their voting systems from … private vendors. (This) has resulted in a patchwork of technologies throughout our state. The private vendors consider their technology proprietary …; Currently, state election officials and the public are completely dependent upon these vendors. … Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections."

Padilla, who will be termed out of the Senate late next year, is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state. If he wins the office, he would enjoy the new authority granted in his own bill.

His press releases never mentioned the fact that experimental systems will now be usable in pilot programs in real elections. Nor the fact that counties already can develop their own voting systems.

In other words, machines that might be as hackable as Diebold's or even more corruptible may soon count the votes in some California elections.

This has the potential of opening a Pandora's box filled with expensive recounts, legal challenges to election outcomes and deflated public confidence in the electoral process. That's the very opposite of what Padilla's press releases promised.

Which is why this measure is a prominent entry in the unofficial sweepstakes to determine this year's worst new state law, one that should be viewed skeptically by Californians of every ideological stripe.

Glad at least someone else noticed. Only wish it had been a few weeks earlier. Now, all we can do is wait around for a few years for the new law to fail CA voters after an election so we can say, very unhappily, "told ya so". But that'll be too late as well.

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The full text of SB 360 is here. For more information on this disturbing new CA law, please see our previous coverage of SB 360, including:

Exclusive: L.A. County Registrar Says 'No' to Internet Voting, But 'Yes' to Unverifiable Touch-Screen Voting for New Election System (4/24/2013)

CA Legislature Approves Dangerous Bill to End All Federal Testing of State E-Voting Systems (9/10/2013)

CA State Senator Still Misleading About Election Bill That Ends Federal Testing of E-Vote Systems (9/17/2013)

'It Seems They Have Learned Next to Nothing': I'm Interviewed by OpEd News on CA's New Bill REDUCING Independent Tests of E-Vote Systems (9/23/2013)

CA GOVERNOR APPROVES RADICAL NEW ELECTION LAW ENDING ALL FEDERAL TESTING OF NEW E-VOTING SYSTEMS IN THE STATE (10/5/2013)

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