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Truthdigger of the Week:  California Secretary of State Debra Bowen

Posted on Aug 4, 2007

Truthdig tips its hat this week to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who did her constituency proud by heading off potential voting disasters in her state by ruling out the use of Diebold and Sequoia direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems in upcoming elections, with exceptions made for disabled voters. 

According to The Brad Blog’s Brad Friedman, Bowen’s bold move came at the 11th hour—actually, at 11:45 p.m.—just before a certification deadline.  Read on for more of Friedman’s coverage:

The Brad Blog:

In a dramatic late-night press conference, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified, and then recertified with conditions, all but one voting system used in the state. Her decisions, following her unprecedented, independent “Top-to-Bottom Review” of all certified electronic voting systems, came just under the wire to meet state requirements for changes in voting system certification.

Bowen announced that she will be disallowing the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems made by the Diebold and Sequoia companies on Election Day, but for one DRE machine per polling place which may be used for disabled voters. The paper trails from votes cast on DREs manufactured by those two companies must be 100% manually counted after Election Day. DREs made by Hart-Intercivic are used in only one California county and will be allowed for use pending security upgrades.


Square, Site wide

The InkaVote Plus system, distributed by ES&S and used only in Los Angeles County has been decertified and not recertified for use after the company failed to submit the system source code in a timely manner to Bowen’s office. LA County is larger than many states, and questions remain at this time as to what voting system they will use in the next election.

As The BRAD BLOG has been reporting in great detail for the past week since the reports were released, the “Top-to-Bottom Review” had found that all Electronic Voting Systems certified in California were easily accessible to hacking. A single machine, the testers discovered, could be easily tampered with by an Election Insider, Voting Machine Company Employee, or other individual in such a way that an entire election could be effected without detection.

In Bowen’s conditional recertification she re-iterated that “expert reviewers demonstrated that the physical and technological security mechanisms” for the electronic voting systems “were inadequate to ensure accuracy and integrity of the elections results and of the systems that provide those results.”

Read more

Originally posted on The Brad Blog.

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By Mariam Russell, August 11, 2007 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That did not last long. Just read at that they are back in…....with restrictions, and you know how that works!

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By Dan Uu Noel, August 8, 2007 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

It is scandalous that money gets transferred electronically with quasi-absolute reliability but electronic voting is at the mercy of just about any determined computer geek. What is California waiting for to make its own machines, writeits own code, and publish its design on the web for the whole world to critique it? If Chase and Fidelity can keep trillions of dollars safe down to the last cent, California can certainly do the same of a few million votes.

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By 911truthdotorg, August 6, 2007 at 9:20 pm Link to this comment

This is an actual post from Computerworld by a person who worked at a polling place in Ohio on election day 2004.  Sickening.

Here it is:

After seeing a sign posted at my precinct that they needed poll
workers, I decided to sign up. During the poll worker training session,
the woman I was partnered with was able to pull open the compartment
where the memory card was kept and the compartment holding the paper
trail - this was after THE Diebold rep. locked it with a key. After
writing letters and phone calls to anyone that could help me. I had
expressed these concerns to the Board of Elections on how unsafe these
machines were, I was NEVER “found” a place to be a poll worker being
told that “they had more than enough workers” but then they called my
roommate the SAME day asking her if she could work at the polls because
they desperatly needed people. WTF?! After complaining to the Secretary
of State office, I was contacted by the Green Party (I sent letters to
everyone) asking if I would be interested in being a Election
Watcher/Judge (this person is by law able to see ALL that is related to
voting) for the green party candidates. After getting the run-around at
the BOE even with my notarized documentand me starting to tell they
were detaining me illegaly from doing my work that I was legally allowed
to do, I was able to go to any precinct in my county to make notes of
any problems I saw or heard about. At the precinct I was at, (Ohio -
Fairfield County) I SAW voters hitting a vote for a democrat and it
switched to the republican candidate. A poll judge walked up to the
machine, hit a few keys and then stated it was okay to use. Another
machine locked up after only about 4 minutes of use. This machine was
closed down (but not the one that was switching votes) and thus, the
wait at this particular precinct was 1 1/2 hours. When trying to contact
the tech supplied by diebold, we were told just to shut down the machine
because he HAD TOO MANY CALLS TO DEAL WITH and this was only after the
polls had been open for about 1 hour. I forgot to mention - during the
training session to be a poll worker, we were instructed to keep the
machines in OUR CARS overnight but if it got cold, to bring them into
your house to keep them warm. I have the paper they handed out with
these instructions.
Needless to say, I am so against these machines just from the little
bit I saw - but it was enough. I did report all my findings but so far,
our county BOE is still planning on using these machines for the next

Google videos: 9/11 Press for Truth, Loose Change 2nd Edition, America: Freedom to Fascism, Hacking Democracy.

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By ib, August 6, 2007 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Ms. Bowen.

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By Mariam Russell, August 6, 2007 at 8:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lets see if she and her ruling survive.

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By mary, August 5, 2007 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Maybe Debra Bowen is just the beginning of a trend where Americans want to do the right thing for America.  Maybe we’ll see republican supporters, other then the kool aide drinkers, decide it’s become more important to do the right thing then to protect their party at all costs. Maybe Americans are tired of being led around by the nose ring with no accountability.  Maybe most Americans are ready to take back our country.  I do believe more people are paying attention then ever before.  We’re tired of not getting straight news from the media, and we’re tire of the pundits thinking only they know what’s going on outside the Beltway—because they don’t.  I do get the feeling some of our politicans are starting to get the picture…we can only hope.  Kudos to Debra Bowen for being brave enough to do the right thing!

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By Starsnsea, August 5, 2007 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hallelujah and thank you !!  Sec. Bowen and her staff, including Lowell Finley and her other staff, are true heroes. I laud Truthdig for quickly giving her this well-deserved award. I greatly respect Sec. Bowen’s bold determination and effectiveness in protecting election integrity. Her courage and tenacity have thrust this vital issue to the forefront of national awareness, and spoken truth to the false assurances of the sleazy corporations who have been selling us vulnerable, dishonest machines.  May this major victory for democracy lead to many more. Thank you, Sec. Bowen.

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By 911truthdotorg, August 5, 2007 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

In 2003, the Diebold CEO guaranteed that bush would “win” Ohio. And despite Kerry leading in all the exit polls, he did. Hmmmm, how did he know that?  And Kerry was a coward not to fight it…or was it a “Skull and Bones” agreement with the monkey not to?

Please watch this Princeton Univ video on how easy it is to compromise the DRE machines.

Also, there’s an HBO documentary on Google video called “Hacking Democracy”.  You’ll lose sleep after watching that.

We’re in deep shit people…that’s assuming we even have a 2008 election after this evil monkey-in-chief bombs Iran and declares Martial Law.

Other Google videos: 9/11 Press for Truth, Loose Change 2nd Edition, America: Freedom to Fascism

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By Outraged, August 5, 2007 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

One of the most important news items of late.  If we can ensure the integrity of the vote, the neocons will be out.  Probably most repukes too.  While it may take a while to sort everything out and attain anything even resembling balance in congress or the White House, this is the necessary first step.

Remember, big corps, money and the neocons cannot win in a system that isn’t “fixed”.  There are long track records of their failures, that’s why they cheat.  Just like the idiot in the classroom, they HAVE to cheat to pass.

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By ardee, August 5, 2007 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

#92298 by weather on 8/05 at 5:35 am
(65 comments total)

Use the absentee ballot.

Establish the paper trail, this isn’t Kansas anymore.

Oh do I hate being a ballon puncturer….I have used absentee balloots for years and years, smug in my belief that they were an efficient and time saving way to vote. With the advent of this diabolic paperless invitation to theft of one’s vote I felt even better about them.

Then I met a person who works as in a local elections office. She noted, rather happy to deflate my confidence, that absentee ballots are subject to the whims of those who run the elections. They are sometimes not counted unless the election itself is in doubt, they are relegated to a closet until needed, if at all…..This bothers me especially as I tend to vote for a number of third party folks in order, in most cases, to see, not a victory, but a growing number of such votes cast.

I will still continue to vote absentee unless Bowens decision is upheld. It will undoubtedly be challenged. I doubt that California figures much into the plans of the Rove machine, but maybe. It is other states into which this battle must be taken.

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By socks, August 5, 2007 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

I think that we can use the results in California to badger our own state’s use of these systems.

If it isn’t good enough in California, then it isn’t good enough to protect the vote in our state.

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By weather, August 5, 2007 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

Use the absentee ballot.

Establish the paper trail, this isn’t Kansas anymore.

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By ezstan, August 5, 2007 at 5:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Finally. A government official with a brain and a degree of ethics. Arnie should take a lesson.

Debra Brown, You’re my hero.

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By myiq2xu, August 5, 2007 at 4:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Diebold - Because elections are too important to be left up to the voters!

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By SamSnedegar, August 5, 2007 at 3:46 am Link to this comment


give me liberty or give me death…

these are the times that try men’s souls…

long live King George II…

men may not always DO the right things, but God help them if they cannot even recognize the right things to do.

it’s not so much the lying, for all politicians lie; no, it’s the murdering and stealing and coveting that make our politicians evil criminals…

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By cyrena, August 5, 2007 at 2:42 am Link to this comment

#92241 by SamSnedegar on 8/04 at 7:37 pm

Sam, you’re right about Charlie Rangle of course, and there have been a handful of others.

I’m not defending any new silence from Scheer on this topic of oil, and oil, and more oil, but you did mention the possiblity of threats, and the fact that he’s already been fired.

And, in all honesty, while his personal income may not be particularly dependent on those ex-employers, these folks in the Cabal are SERIOUS. I mean, look how many other folks they’ve destroyed or even “disappeared”.

I mean, this is simply an extrememly dangerous time to be a truthteller, and sometimes, you have to sit on what you know, until you know more. (and maybe even to keep breathing.)

Yeah, I know it sounds dramatic and all, (real theater) but as I continue to live and breathe, it is only by displaying a certain amount of caution and purdence in very unpredictable winds.

Anybody that writes too much about the real reasons for the Iraq invasion and occupation, probably needs a round the clock CREW of body guards these days. He might not be able to afford that on an independents’ income. smile

I know I can’t.

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By Anthony Lavaliere, August 4, 2007 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment

Problem, with a computerized voting system, with no paper ballot, is; there is no way to really do a recount. Without, a real paper trail, without hanging chads, there is nothing to recount by hand, to determine if a machine count is incorrect.

And, if one can run a computerized voting system’s, totaling program, 3 times, and ever actually get 3 different totals, the machine is worthless. As, two different totals can be attributed to a possible machine error, however 3 differnt totals, indicates a good working, lottery machine.

-Mark Robert Gates

please my blogs, again:

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By CJ, August 4, 2007 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One thing to say about Debra Bowen, formerly my state senator: She’s the only politician who ever got back to me—by snail mail, on letterhead, complete with signature, and wherein she took the time and trouble to explain her position regarding my very-much-in-the-minority complaint concerning a very popular California State referendum that was to appear, and which did appear, on California’s most recent ballot. No other politician has ever taken the time to reply to my concerns as she did. Pardon if I took and still take that personally.

And so, here in the real world, as opposed to the one in which I imagine a large number of much smaller entities (not sovereign nations always at war, not least out of nationalist devotion to father-, mother-, or home-land) consisting of independent, genuinely participatory democracies, she’s the next best thing; insofar as she’s the real deal, to the degree she takes her elected position as representative—on behalf of citizens who elected her—seriously. Therefore, and for once, I can tout at least one person for higher public office; namely, that of governor, for starters. For President after that.

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By SamSnedegar, August 4, 2007 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

Debra Bowen is a good soul who did something that needed doing, but what I don’t understand is why the real truth teller of the week (year, and decade) in the person of Charlie Rangel, (D-NY), didn’t even get a smell . . . this is the SECOND time I have heard Charlie ON TV, first on MSNBC and now on CNN saying that the only reason we went to Iraq or stay in Iraq is oil, oil, and more oil.

Bob Scheer used to say things like that, back before he got fired for doing it and probably notified by his publishers that he had better toe the line or he would not be getting their green stuff any more, but now Bob Scheer won’t even recognize a REAL truthdigger when one comes along.

Too bad.

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By vet240, August 4, 2007 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is imperative that all citizens of this country recognize and accept that to servive as America we must all assure the integrity of the voting process.

Those who find it not am important issue would prefer a different America. One where we would have a dictator. As bush said, “It would be easier”, He further added that would be alright as long as he was the Dictator.

Many laughed, I did not.

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By Inherit The Wind, August 4, 2007 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One could say “too little, too late”

Or one could say: “enough stolen elections!”  FINALLY, someone put her foot down on these traitors—DieBold is the ULTIMATE traitor—bragging that it would throw the election to Bush and then making it happen.

Such arrogance: To piss in the face of every American.  To wipe their filthy butts with our beautiful Constitution.  Isn’t it more important that the Ken Lays and Ruppert Murdochs have another private yacht and another Rolls-Royce than “Providing for the general welfare”?

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By Leefeller, August 4, 2007 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment

Very seldom have I heard any decisions coming from politicians that seemed to be right in me eye.

Maybe Debra could run for president?  Integrity seems to be in short supply, Debra Brown is the exception instead of the rule.

Special Interests, have been usurped for the people, thank you Debra Brown.

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By livia, August 4, 2007 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bravo to Debra Bowen and to the truthdig staff for naming her truthdigger of the week.

Tragic that she did not have a counterpart of equal intelligence and integrity in Ohio during the last presidential election or we would have a different man in the White House.

As John Lennon would say, imagine.

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