Election protection

California’s new secretary of state, Debra Bowen, wants to review all voting systems certified for use in California in time to decertify or fix those that don’t meet state and federal standards for accuracy, secrecy and usability before the February 5, 2008, presidential primary.

Revisiting voting-system failures that have plagued secretaries of state and county clerks since the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002, Bowen’s office plans to complete its top-to-bottom review of certified systems by August of 2007. The criteria for judging the machines has been drafted for public comment and published on Bowen’s website: www.sos.ca.gov.

Bowen proposes making sure machines are immune to untraceable vote tampering or disabling. Her office could enlist computer experts to look for holes in security and pour over software code for any potential problems. She also wants to make sure that those with disabilities and those speaking languages other than English have equal access.