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California: Secretary of State To Hold A “No Hearing Hearing” PDF  | Print |  Email
By Sherry Healy, California Election Protection Network   
November 18, 2005
California Election Protection Network Protests Secretary of
State Bruce McPherson’s Decision

On November 21, 2005, citizens may voice their concerns about what voting system will record their votes, but thanks to a decision by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, there’s no guarantee that anyone with the authority to certify voting systems in California will hear those voices.

California law requires the Secretary of State to conduct a public hearing as a condition of certifying any voting systems in the state. The Secretary of State has scheduled a hearing for November 21, 2005 on the question of whether certain Diebold voting systems should be re-certified before the end of the year.

Te Secretary of State has disbanded the Voting Systems Panel that’s supposed to conduct these hearings and has replaced it with one person, a stenographer, and a tape recorder. This defies the notion of 'public input'.

Jody Holder, a long time election reform activist, summed up his concerns by saying “What Bruce McPherson, the chief elections officer of our state, is trying to do is to prevent people from using their right to influence the process for approving the voting systems. It’s these people’s votes these machines are counting! Time and time again, this administration has arbitrarily disregarded all established precedents on how public’s voices can be heard.

“For two years, concerned voters of this state have been traveling to Sacramento to voice their concerns about ‘faith-based’ voting on electronic voting machines at public hearings,” continued Holder. “Their concerns have been increasingly recognized by the Legislature, resulting in new laws requiring paper verification of their votes, and requiring that the paper record be used in the required manual audit and in any recount (SB 370 [Bowen]). Unfortunately, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson opposed using voter verified paper records for any audit and recount.

“Now, Secretary McPherson has made it virtually impossible for people to provide meaningful testimony, expert witnesses, and public comment on the proposal to certify the Diebold machines for use in California,” continued Holder. “In June, over 200 people traveled to Sacramento to voice their concerns at a public hearing before a panel of advisors to the Secretary of State on voting systems. Since then, every scheduled meeting of the VSP has been cancelled, and now the Secretary has simply disbanded the VSP without notice, without hearings, without any type of due process.”

The California Election Protection Network is calling on Secretary McPherson to reverse his arbitrary abandonment of established procedures and to allow people to provide meaningful input on the voting systems approved for use in this state. CEPN believes the voters of California are entitled to be able to choose their representatives with the confidence that their votes are recorded and counted accurately. It is the duty of the Secretary, as the chief elections officer of the state, to make sure voting systems are approved in the interests of Californians, not the voting system vendors or the local election officials. The most important duty of a Secretary of State is assuring the citizens that we can vote with confidence on the voting systems he approves.

Sarah Rath of CEPN and CitizensAct said, “Even if this turns out to be legal by some technicality, it illuminates for us all what Bruce McPherson stands for, and against.”
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