Friday, October 27, 2006


Debra Bowen for Secretary of State

Probably the only statewide position candidate drawing any kind of enthusiasm this year is Debra Bowen - coincidentally the only woman running. She's got all the right left lib position in her platform, and seems likeable and professional. She's up against a formidable incumbent, a moderate Republican who was handed the office when moron-of-the-century went down in flames of scandal. McPherson should have an easy win incidently but for Bowen's campaign mantlepiece drawing accolades from grassroots, netroots, and activists around the state - election reform. McPherson's apologies for the Diebold's are making this a horse race.

Bowen offers up a Voter's Bill of Rights:

The ability to register to vote, to cast a ballot, and to have that ballot counted accurately is the very foundation of our democracy. To that end, every one of California's voters is entitled to the following rights:

  1. The Right To Register To Vote. Every Californian who is eligible to vote has a legal right to register to vote without being forced to navigate through unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles.

  2. The Right To Vote. Every registered voter has a right to cast a ballot. This means that Voters shouldn't show up at a polling place, only to find it closed for hours or be forced to stand in lines because the voting equipment doesn't work. In addition, essential information about voting should be readily available to all voters.

  3. The Right To Vote In A Tamper-Proof Election. Every voter has the right for his or her vote to count equally -- which means no one should be required to vote using machines that have been proven time and time again to lack the security necessary to ensure that people's votes are counted accurately. If a piece of voting equipment isn't secure, accurate, and auditable, it should not be used in California's electoral process.

  4. The Right To Vote On Paper. More and more counties are installing electronic voting equipment and doing away with the paper ballots that voters are used to just as voter confidence in electronic machines is plummeting. Voters should have a right to cast a paper ballot, and it should be made clear to voters that they have this choice.

  5. The Right To Have Each Vote Counted Accurately. A vote is meaningless unless it is counted as the voter intended it. In recent years, every election has brought instances of votes being inaccurately tabulated and voter confidence in the election results is at an all-time low. It's time to change that.

  6. The Right To Have Election Results Properly Audited. Audits are the only way to ensure the accuracy of the vote. Next year, when SB 1235 (Bowen) takes effect, the current law requiring that 1% of precincts be audited will be expanded to include votes cast by absentee ballot and early voting centers, and will require full transparency of the auditing process. Audits should be statistically valid, and when there are irregularities the audit should be expanded or a full recount should be conducted.

  7. The Right To An Open, Transparent, Public Process. While every voter's ballot is and must be private, that's the only thing in the electoral process that should stay a secret. We should have full transparency in elections procedures, all phases of the conduct of the election, the process used for testing, reviewing and buying voting systems, and all reports of errors and anomalies should be made public. Finally, voters should be entitled to watch the vote-counting process and the 1% manual audit process.

  8. The Right To Elections Officials Who Operate Free of Partisan Influence. Anyone who is in charge of tallying the votes and certifying the results of an election, including the Secretary of State and local registrars of voters, should not endorse candidates for office in that election.

  9. The Right To Know that Elected Officials Are Free From the Influence of Campaign Contributions From Voting Machine Vendors. The people responsible for setting the standards for voting equipment, for testing a voting system, or for deciding which system to buy should not be taking campaign contributions or gifts from voting equipment manufacturers who have a financial interest in the decisions that are made.

  10. The Right To Find Out How Money Is Being Raised And Spent In The Political Process. Voters should be able to easily find out the true identity of any person or any entity that is contributing to campaigns, as well as how candidates and campaigns are spending their money.

Peter LaVallee for dog catcher ....
To this long and excellent list of voter rights should be added the right to vote in person. Alderpoint has been denied polls for years, despite a petition signed by the overwhelming majority of voters here asking for real polls with real voting. Voting by mail may be easier and more convenient but it is also uncertain both as to whether your ballot actually gets to the elections people in time to be counted, and whether it will actually be counted, or discarded for some technical problem such as the signature not matching the exact wording of the name (Am I ED Denson, Eugene Denson, or Eugene Cowan Denson, or Eugene Cowan Denson III? Do I live at my mailing address, which is a Post Office Box, or my physical address where I can not receive mail because there is no delivery here?). Although fraud is a problem with absentee voting, the problem most concerning us is negligence. There is absolutely no way to tell whether your absentee ballot was counted or not, and no way to tell how the voters of your district voted because the absentee ballots are put into a category all their own - meaning, among other things, that you can't tell if too many or too few ballots were counted. Voting in person is a old, time-honored, and useful American ritual at election time. It should not be denied to those that want it.
Ok. You'll have to pay for it, though, Ed.
Democracy succeeds in inverse proportion to the voter's power to mandate the expenditure of public funds.

The more people who can vote their way into the other guy's pocket the lower the system sinks.

We would be better off if the right to vote required more than reaching some arbitrary age, and instead required
a demonstrated commitment to the common weal.
Like having a job, paying taxes, working in public service,
something. The idea that anyone should vote is fine for a society where everyone is responsible for themselves,
but is just stupid where one need not take any responsibility, even for one's own children. Seriously, the kids who create a child, dump it on a hospital under
an amnesty program, can skip across the street into a voting booth. Brilliant.
I met this woman and had a brief conversation.

What a woman! She's smart, tenacious, personable and hard-working. Actually sent her a check, which I rarely do for statewide candidates. Her understanding of the process and how it can be improved impressed me and I encourage others to check her out, as well.
If she pulls this election off, she'll be in very solid running for governor in four years - depending on her performance.
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