This month's (June) SoS Spotlight:
California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen
Secretary of State Debra Bowen won the office, but refused to accept the systems that could hinder voters in her state.
The state invested $450 million into electronic voting systems aimed at modernizing elections, but after an independent review of the new voting technologies to ensure they adequately protected the integrity of the vote, the study found flaws in the system. Secretary of State Bowen took the lead by placing strict limits on the use of direct-recording electronic voting machines, and imposed significant security and auditing requirements on systems to be used in California’s presidential primary election.
Secretary Bowen’s decision to use an independent non-partisan organization to study the effects of the California’s voting system is the right approach to ensure voters representing all party affiliations trust the state’s election process.
[A copy of the detail Top to Bottom Election Process Review report]
[Debra Bowen recieves prestigious John F. Kennedy award]
Instant Runoff Voting in Los Angeles Gains Steam
Chamber of Commerce and former Mayor Riordan Back IRV
A city of nearly four million people, Los Angeles has taken giant strides toward putting instant runoff voting for city elections on the November 2008 ballot. The L.A. Chamber of Commerce and former Republican mayor Richard Riordan recently endorsed instant runoff voting, with the Chamber's press release saying: "IRV will save money for candidates, who can now spend all their resources on a single race focused on the merits of their platforms, rather than bashing opponents. This new campaign dynamic will bring new candidates and their issues into the local debate, leading to more competitive races for important local government posts."
As detailed in the IRV in L.A. website run by the New America Foundation, other backers include the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, National Latino Congreso and numerous elected leaders. UCLA uses IRV for its student government elections.
[Statement by L.A. Chamber of Commerce]
[New America Foundation's Political Reform Program]
[Californians for Electoral Reform]
[Another successful IRV election at UCLA]
[NEW: Memphis, TN to vote on IRV in November]
[NEW: Glendale, AZ to vote on IRV in September]
States Consider Youth Voting Rights Bills
FairVote Reforms Moving Across the Country
FairVote proposals expanding voting rights for young people are on the move. Two cornerstone policies of the 100% Registration Project, setting a uniform voter registration age and allowing 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election to vote in primaries, have been met with great enthusiasm by state legislators hoping to increase youth participation. Setting a uniform voter registration age of 16 will increase opportunities for young people to register to vote when applying for their driver's license and help schools conduct more successful voter registration drives. This year, California, Rhode Island and Maryland have introduced legislation that would standardize the registration age.
FairVote is also supporting legislative efforts in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania,and New Jersey to allow eligible 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections. Currently, 18 states or state parties allow 17-year-old primary voting, but since FairVote's success in helping restore voting rights to 17-year-olds in Maryland, a number of other states have explored expanding suffrage rights to these young people. The Connecticut legislature has passed the constitutional amendment and it will appear on the ballot in November.
[ Read about FairVote's 100% Registration Project ]
[ Read the uniform registration bills: California, Rhode Island, Maryland ]
[ Read the 17-year-old primary voting bills: New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey ]
[ Read more about Maryland youth voting rights ]
[ Read FairVote op-eds in the Maryland Gazette and the Concord Monitor ]
[ Read Executive Director Rob Richie's vision of 100% Registration ]