Re: Bowen opposes legislative proposal

From: Richard Dawson <rcdawson_at_att_dot_net>
Date: Tue Jan 27 2009 - 23:35:53 CST

I for one am extremely disappointed in the Secretary of State's decision to
not support a bill that would, at essentially no cost to the state, remove
the financial barrier that impedes progress towards implementation of an
open-source voting system in California. The fact that Debra Bowen
campaigned as a strong advocate of open source software just makes my
disappointment more bitter.

I was personally assured by Ms. Bowen that she would support the use of open
source software in California's elections. I donated to her campaign,
collected signatures to get her on the ballot, and walked precincts on her
behalf. Remembering how, when she was the assembly member for my district,
she almost single-handedly managed to get California's legislative
information on line for citizens to follow, I expected her to follow through
on her campaign rhetoric and actively support development of open source
voting solutions.

Her top-down review of proprietary voting systems provided proof-positive that
change is needed, and her own pronouncements demonstrate that she understands
the need for an open source approach. Her many accomplishments while in the
assembly and later in the senate demonstrate that she has the political
skills needed to make progress. Why, then, have we heard virtually nothing
more about open source since she took office? Why has she refused to support
legislative proposals to encourage open source voting solution development?
She rejected one proposal while she was in the Senate, and now two more since
she has been Secretary of state. Why has she not worked with open source
supporters to help them develop a proposal that she could support?

Perhaps Ms Bowen has changed her mind regarding open source voting systems.
Whether or not that is the case, it is clear that open source proponents must
organize politically to become a real force in the competition to provide
California's voting system. If it develops that Ms. Bowen has in fact
abandoned her support for open source, then it may be necessary to mount a
campaign to replace her, since it is highly unlikely that open source
will make any headway with out the Secretary's support.

This would be no small undertaking, but we certainly have potential candidates
among our number. Alan Dechert, for instance, has spent many years studying
election issues and organizing the effort to implement an open source voting
system. He probably knows as much, or more, about California elections and
the players in the election system market than anyone else, and I believe we
could depend upon him to maintain his support for open source software.

Taking on the Secretary of State would be no small task. In fact, it would be
an uphill battle, but if we are serious about getting open source systems
adopted, we need a Secretary of State who is truly supportive. If Debra
Bowen is not that person, then we need to decide who it is, and begin laying
the groundwork.

Richard Dawson
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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:55 2010

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