Third Party & Independents Archives

A Uniform Voting System for California: Ending Private Control of our Elections

The accuracy of our elections will take a giant step backwards if either Bruce McPherson (R) or Debra Bowen (D) are elected Secretary of State. While the two candidates differ on various technical issues surrounding the certification of voting machines, both continue to support using a decentralized voting system controlled by private voting machine manufactures to count our votes.

Since there are 58 counties in California, the potential number of voting systems in our state is large. No matter what certification requirements Bowen or McPherson dream up, putting the integrity of our votes into the hands of a 'network' of private partisan corporations is really a recipe for disaster.

If we are serious about assuring the accuracy of our vote we need a Secretary of State that will work with the local county registrars to create a 'single uniform system of voting' throughout the state, administered by a non-partisan elections commission.

Under a uniform system we can use touch screen systems as long as the votes are recorded on a paper ballots. We can count the paper ballots using optical scanners as long as the code is owned by the state, not private companies that contribute to partisan campaigns.

Under a uniform system we can make sure that all citizens have an equal opportunity to vote by having adequate polling stations in all communities and by training and professionalizing a network of poll workers.

Fixing our voting system is really not rocket science. Almost all democracies in the world use a single system of voting to ensure accuracy - International observes require it to certify elections. So, why do the Democrats and Republicans want to play election roulette by placing our democracy in the hands of private companies?

If you liked energy deregulation you are going to love voting under a decentralized privately control voting system. It should be no surprise that Bowen supports this type of arrangement as she was also a strong supporter of deregulation, I don't know what McPherson's excuse is.

Unless we end the privatization of our election system, public confidence in our elections will be eroded and the results of any election will remain open to question. Neither Bowen nor McPherson have any intention of moving in this direction.

Posted by Forrest Hill at September 16, 2006 11:23 AM
Comment #181847


First, recounts and certifications of counts should be accomplished by volunteer voters representing all the parties on the ballot. That is the best way to to insure no unfair advantages.

I agree with you that hiring partisan companies to do this for the people, is absurd. On the other hand, it is just as absurd to allow the government, i.e. politicians and or their appointees to read the counts or recounts.

Decentralized is good, means if tampering is an issue it won’t be system wide.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 16, 2006 3:51 PM
Comment #181851

I’ve kinda grown fond of the purple finger method. At least it would solve one aspect of fraudulent voting.

Posted by: Ken Strong at September 16, 2006 4:08 PM
Comment #181885


The Secretary of State’s job (at least in terms of voting) is to make sure that all citizens can vote and all votes are fairly counted. This is an organizational problem as well as a technical/legal problem, and right now the organizational end of things is a mess (my opinion, as well as most world leaders).

In California (and the rest of the country) voting is administered by a hodgepodge collection of state, county and local bodies setting different, and at times conflicting electoral policies. Many of the same irregularities, inequities and improprieties that plagued the 2000 presidential election returned in 2004.

In 2004, voting machines malfunctioned and in some cases did not work at all. Voters suffered harassment and intimidation at the polls, many were wrongly turned away without casting a ballot, and some were incorrectly purged from the voter rolls. Improperly trained and underpaid poll workers gave inadequate or incorrect information to voters.

From an organizational stand point we need:

* Uniform Standards for all polling stations,
* Public Interest Voting Machines,
* Election-Day Voter Registration (to increase turnout),
* Oversight by a Nonpartisan Election Administration,
* A network of trained and professionalized poll workers,
* and Voting Rights For All U.S. Citizens

The only way to achieve this is by putting in place a single voting system (like every other county in the world).

Posted by: Forrst Hill at September 16, 2006 7:29 PM
Comment #181945

Forrest, can’t argue with any of those proposals. Except professionalize poll workers. It is in the best interest of voting rights that volunteers remain the primary workers. Volunteers aren’t in it for the money. Professionalized poll workers will be more receptive to bribes. That’s not to say other incentives for experienced poll workers can’t be installed, non-monetary ones, though.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 17, 2006 12:36 AM
Comment #181946

Ken has the right idea. But take it 5 steps further and implement bio-ID’s for voting. Start with fingerprint scanners. When missing fingers start showing up at the polls, we can move to retinal scans. That should be pretty safe. Folks would notice a voter who pulled eyeballs out of their pockets.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 17, 2006 12:39 AM
Comment #182117

David, there are problems with any ID system. Retinal scans might be the toughest to defeat, though. Fingerprints can be faked, but not easily. I don’t want a chip under my skin nor a tatoo on my arm.

I think there does need to be a nationwide standardization of voting methods, and impartial and open counting methodology. It is absurd to allow these partisan Secretary’s of State to continue given their history.

Thanks for the post Forrest

Posted by: gergle at September 17, 2006 7:47 PM
Comment #182493

I ran across this gem of a story today

Posted by: gergle at September 19, 2006 7:38 AM
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