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.