A Dem who keeps her promise

It’s nice to know that there are still Progressive Dems out there who actually do live up to their 2006 campaign promises.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has filed suit against Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) for nearly $15 million after a four-month investigation revealed the company had repeatedly violated state law.

Bowen, who unseated incumbent Bruce McPherson in 2006 by a narrow 3% (officially), campaigned on a Progressive platform whose centerpiece called for cleaning up the California voting system.  True to her word, she is now aggressively pursuing claims of eVote fraud.

Secretary Bowen is suing ES&S for $9.72 million in penalties for selling 972 machines that contained hardware changes that were never submitted to, or reviewed by, the Secretary of State. Furthermore, she is seeking nearly $5 million to reimburse the five counties that bought the machines believing they were buying certified voting equipment.

“ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again, and it got caught,” said Bowen, the state’s top elections officer. “California law is very clear on this issue. I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into this state, ignore the laws, and make millions of dollars from California’s taxpayers in the process.”

Bowen claims ES&S fraudulently substituted almost a thousand rigged boxes in five northern California counties, including San Francisco County:      

The sales in question involve ES&S’s AutoMARK ballot-marking devices that 14 California counties use to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirement that voters with disabilities have a way to cast ballots privately and independently. Unlike direct recording electronic (DRE) devices, the AutoMARK prints a voted ballot that is counted by an optical scanner along with other paper ballots.

   In July 2007, Secretary Bowen learned that ES&S had sold AutoMARK A200s – a version of the AutoMARK A100 that had been altered without authorization from the Secretary of State – to five counties in 2006. The counties collectively spent about $5 million for the equipment: Colusa bought 20 machines, Marin bought 130, Merced bought 104, San Francisco bought 558, and Solano bought 160. Elections officials in the five counties believed they were purchasing the certified AutoMARK A100s when, in fact, they had purchased AutoMARK A200s.

Bowen has also gone after ES&S in Los Angeles, where she decertified the company’s InkaVote boxes that had been scheduled for use in February’s Presidential primary/electoral college referendum:

Both of these actions have come as a result of an an unprecedented top to bottom review of California voting systems.

This is exactly what she promised to do as Secretary of State and she is delivering in a big way. Echoing language she used on the campaign trail last year, she said in a statement (PDF):


California voters are entitled to have their votes counted exactly as they were cast. This top-to-bottom review is designed with one goal in mind: to ensure that California’s voters cast their ballots on voting systems that are secure, accurate, reliable, and accessible.

Thank you, Secretary Bowen, for keeping your promise.


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  1. or perhaps even Arnie in 2010.

  2. seems fitting

  3. A Dem who keeps her promise.

    May she be the first of many to follow through!

  4. Good job spreading the information about this real Dem.  I just sent an e-jot to thank her for her stands.

    Yes to replacing difi or the schwartzengroper.  Even though I really can’t stand Diane, I think I’d rather see the first female gov of Calif.

  5. On the inside of her noodle and the outside too 😉  This is one to file into the memory and keep an eye on.

  6. have a great secretary of state, Bill Bradbury, who takes a lot of heat. This is a position which is key to election integrity and half the battle is here. Last month I attended a State Democratic function where Dean spoke and the most hopeful thing he said is the best way for change is to work precinct by precinct,and as you said up the state ladder.

    The leap to national is a hard one as the purse string are held by the likes of Steny and Rahm. My frustration ay our machine politics is not quite so bad at a local or state level. Still those incumbents are hard to budge what ever level, from city supervisors to governors. Look forward to hearing more from  a office holder who has ethics and does her job.      

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