suggestions for responding to CA Secretary of State

From: Lara Shaffer <lara_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Fri May 27 2005 - 20:27:17 CDT

Hi everyone,
   Here is the letter our supporters have been sending to the Secretary of
State (if you haven't sent one yet, please down load it from the website and
send it):

California Secretary of State

1500 11th Street

Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Secretary McPherson:

I am writing to ask you to fulfill your pledge to the Assembly Rules
Committee to continue to support voter-verified paper ballots. Your
participation in co-authoring SB 1438 helps me to believe that you are
inclined to support a transparent and open election system. However, as you
well know, there is much more work that needs to be done to ensure fair

I know that you signed ACR 242, a resolution that suggests the Secretary of
State look into the use of open source software for public elections. I
believe that open source software would help to make our elections more
transparent and to instill voter confidence to the election process. I
understand that in early June a group of citizens with Citizens Act is
coming to Sacramento from Los Angeles to lobby officials such as yourself,
the governor, and State Assembly and Senate members about various election
reforms, including the use of open source software and voter-verifiable
paper ballots. The group that is the furthest along in designing a reliable
open source voter-verifiable paper ballot voting system is Open Voting
Consortium (OVC) (

The OVC precinct-based system meets all accessibility requirements for HAVA.
It uses open source software and provides a voter-verified paper ballot,
both of which are

necessary for voter confidence. It will be less expensive to purchase and
operate than Diebold or other DRE voting systems. Furthermore, the central
county canvassing

systems also need to be auditable, secure, reliable, and transparent, and
OVC is working on an open source version.

OVC is a large, multi-partisan organization that has received support from
many other organizations and prominent individuals. (Jim March of,

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and 2004 Green Party presidential candidate
David Cobb are among OVC's list of endorsers.)

OVC proposes to work with the University of California to develop a
publicly-owned open source voting system for California. This project needs
your support to get off the ground. I respectfully request that you schedule
a meeting with Alan Dechert, President of the OVC, Professor Arthur Keller,
UC Santa Cruz computer scientist, yourself, and Governor Schwarzenegger as
soon as possible.

Alan Dechert: (916) 791-0456,

Arthur Keller: (650) 424-0202,


This is what we have received in response (it's a form letter that they're
sending to everyone who sends them the OVC letter):

Dear Ms. Shaffer,

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding your advocacy of open
source software for election systems.

Under California law, each county chooses its own voting system from among
those certified for use in the state. The role of the Secretary of State is
to test new voting systems for compliance with California law and to certify
their ability to accurately capture votes and report results in an election
in California.

Please be assured that before any voting system is certified for use in
California, it must complete rigorous federal testing, including software
and security review. Once federal testing is completed, the state
certification process tests and evaluates the system for many factors,
including the security of the system. I would welcome the chance to
evaluate OVC's system should it complete these steps and come forward for
state certification. The public is also welcome to offer testimony before
the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel (VSPP), which holds hearings to
consider applications ofr certification and makes recommendations based on
these comments and findings. sA schedule of VSPP meetings is available on
our website at

The continued reliability and trustworthiness of California's elections will
always be one of my highest priorities as Secretary of State. My staff and
I, together with the dedicated election staffs in our 58 counties, will
continue to explore ideas and technologies that can make our election
systems even more secure.


Bruce McPherson

Secretary of State

What are your suggestions for how we should respond?

Lara Shaffer :)

Director of Development

Open Voting Consortium


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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:49 2005

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