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AB 56 - VOTING EQUIPMENT BONDS
Thanks to all who contacted Governor Davis -- and thank you, Governor Davis, for signing the bill.
ACTION NEEDED: Call or fax Governor Davis today! Urge him to sign AB 56 by Assemblymember Kevin Shelley and Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg to place a $200 million bond act for local voting equipment on the March 2002 ballot.
BACKGROUND: Problems with the administration of the November 2000 elections highlighted the need for improvements in election and voting systems throughout the U.S. League members around the country are working for reforms, urging government at all levels to evaluate the current systems and to begin the improvement process.
Thirty-four of California's 58 counties used punch-card ballots in November 2000, 23 used optical scan ballot systems, and one (Riverside County) used a computer touch-screen system (Riverside used an optical scan system for absentee ballots). In May 2001 the ACLU, Common Cause, and other organizations filed a lawsuit demanding that two systems that use prescored punch card ballots be discontinued by the March 2002 election. In September, the Secretary of State announced that those systems, Pollstar and Votomatic, would be decertified no later than January 1, 2006, and that hearings would be held to determine the feasibility of replacing the systems in time for the 2004 elections. Nine counties, with 8.5 million registered voters, use either Pollstar or Votomatic. A third punch-card system, the Datavote system, uses a hole-punch device that is considered effective and is not slated for decertification.
In general, counties are responsible for funding and acquiring voting equipment and software. Late last year, Secretary of State Bill Jones outlined a ten-point election reform plan that included a $230 million capital outlay fund for counties to purchase updated voting technologies. Governor Davis included $40 million for this use in his first 2001-2002 budget proposal, but in the May revision of the budget, that item was dropped. As it was introduced, AB 56 would have appropriated $300 million for grants to counties to purchase updated voting equipment. Later, the bill was amended to become a bond measure, and the amount was set at $200 million.
LEAGUE VOTING RIGHTS POSITIONS: LWVUS: The League of Women Voters believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. Implicit in that statement is the right to have one's vote properly counted. LWVC: The state should take a stronger role in encouraging the facilitation of registration and voting.