Gov. Brown signs bill to modernize California voting machines

150 150 Christopher Nelson

Over the weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown added SB 360, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by the Los Angeles County Registrar, to a list of signed bills from the Legislature’s most recent session. 

The bill’s signage streamlines the approval process for and paves the way toward increased technological innovation on new voting systems in the state. Currently, much of what is in use is highly antiquated, with Los Angeles County in particular using a slightly upgraded version of the voting system first used in the 1968 presidential election that put Richard Nixon in the White House. 

“This new law will allow counties to develop, own and operate voting systems which meet their unique needs. Because all aspects of these public voting systems must meet rigorous standards and will be open to public inspection and review, it will strengthen voter confidence in our elections,” said Senator Alex Padilla.

Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of Los Angeles County, also praised Gov. Brown’s signing of the legislation.

“This bill puts California out front in pursuing expanded options for modernizing voting systems while preserving and codifying some of the highest standards for security and testing in the country. It provides the legal framework needed for L.A. County to pursue improvements to the voting experience and replacement of our aging voting equipment,” Logan said.

Non-partisan organizations such as the California Voter Foundation were also highly supportive of the legislation since its inception and effusive about what this means for the future of election transparency in California. As early as January of this year, they released a policy statement that called for large scale renovations to our voting technology.

“By creating a new voting system that incorporates nonproprietary technology, disclosed source code and improved election auditing procedures, California and Los Angeles will bring a new and unprecedented level of transparency and accountability to our public voting systems,” said Kim Alexander, President of the California Voter Foundation.

California Forward has written about the importance of SB 360 and the California Forward Action Fund (CFAF) endorsed the legislation and sent out an email blast  that generated over 400 emails to Gov. Brown encouraging him to sign the bill, proving that this issue isn’t something isolated and wonky in the minds of Californians.

“By signing this bill into law, Gov. Jerry Brown has paved the way for much-needed technological innovation on voting machines and ensuring that California’s democracy is firmly planted in the 21st Century,” said Caroline Vance Bruister, Program Director for California Forward.

Left on the table in the realm of election transparency is SB 3, which is also legislation endorsed by the CFAF and covered on our site as yet another law vital to maintaining an informed electorate by modernizing the equally as antiquated Cal-Access database. Secretary of State Debra Bowen is currently taking suggestions from the public on how best to undertake such a task. You can email her office here to submit your own ideas.

With one hurdle cleared in SB 360’s signing, Gov. Brown can seal a very solid one-two punch for transparency by doing the same for SB 3.


Christopher Nelson

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