Good Afternoon for Democracy

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Wed Apr 18 2007 - 00:48:21 CDT

Most of you are on the OVC announcements list, but just in case, and for
posterity, here is what I wrote today:

Dear Friends of Open Voting:

I wrote that this was a good afternoon for democracy. Actually, maybe it
was a GREAT day! Our efforts to bring about transparency in the vote
counting process were successful on two fronts -- San Francisco and
Sacramento. AB 852 won the vote 5-2 in the Assembly elections committee.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted against buying a new Sequoia
(with DRE) voting system, and decided to stay with the existing optical scan
system with the AutoMARK ballot marking device.

I was in the Capitol Building all afternoon. I testified for AB 852, using
my Diebold voting machine as a prop. "See the InfraRed port? This machine
is capable of communicating with a laptop across the room. Do you want to
vote on a machine like this? This machine was certified but all the testing
is a big secret." I had a lot of ammunition -- didn't need half of it.

Assemblymember Krekorian said that Secretary of State Debra Bowen supports
the principles behind AB 852. This is a little short of official
endorsement, but what a difference a year makes. Last year, Secretary of
State McPherson fought our bill (AB 2097 carried by the Jackie Goldberg --
the great, but termed-out Jackie Goldberg) all the way.

Then all the Microsoft shills showed up to testify against the bill. No one
said, "I work for Microsoft," but they may as well have had "Microsoft
shill" tattooed on their foreheads. It was appalling. Their testimony was
appalling. "This will hurt business. This will stifle innovation is
election technology. This will make the voting system unsafe."

Guess what? We don't conduct elections to create profit centers for
business; we don't need innovative vote counting methods; computer code must
stand up to scrutiny in order to be secure. That's the truth. Today, the
truth prevailed. The truth doesn't always prevail, but today it did in

Last year, our bill was held in the Appropriations committee. This is
another big difference. Mark Leno, one of our co-authors on AB 2097, is now
chair of this committee. Before I knew this, I had already relaxed the
schedule for disclosure so it would not run into the problems we had last
year in this committee. We have a much better chance this year in
Appropriations. Assuming success there, we'll go to a floor vote in late
May, then on to the Senate.

The actions of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SF BoS) today may
have been even more significant. You may remember that the SF BoS said they
wouldn't approve the Sequoia contract without language in the contract
requiring full public disclosure of their technology.

We are working on getting "open source," or, at least, public disclosure to
be part of any contract for a voting system with the City of San Francisco.
This could have an impact before our proposed state law would take effect.

Thank you again for your support. I don't think there is anything important
I can do by myself. Success for all of these accomplishments is due to our

Alan Dechert

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Received on Mon Apr 30 23:17:07 2007

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