From Bruce McPherson, California Secretary of State:
Thank you for your recent email regarding the use of paper ballots in the upcoming November 7, 2006 election.
As Secretary of State, I believe that there is no right more fundamental and vital than the right to vote. Democracy depends on it. I would like to clarify a few points so you can have confidence in how elections are conducted in California.
First, all electronic voting machines used in California elections have a paper trail that is used for the voter to verify the vote cast and as the official ballot record. In fact, a 2006 California law, which Is ponsored in the Legislature, permanently requires that all electronic voting machines used in California elections, must have a voter-verified paper audit trail of each ballot cast. Further I have implemented the most rigorous voting systems testing standards and security precautions in the nation to insure the accuracy and integrity of the each vote cast. These include:
1. The toughest voting systems testing standards in the nation(10-step process).
2. Three-tiered testing -- federal, state and local -- with thorough checks and balances.
3. Each machine has a strict set of use procedures to ensure proper implementation including custody logs, proper storing, and serialized security seals.
4. 1% manual recount tally to audit the results to make sure they are accurate.
5. New paper trail requirement that allows a voter to see how they voted and to correct any errors prior to casting their ballot.
6. Systems that allow disabled voters to vote independently and privately statewide for the first time.
In addition, I have directed all county election officials to have an adequate supply of paper ballots, as determined by the election official, available at the voting locations on election day for use in the event of a power failure, temporary loss of the ability to use electronic equipment, or if a voter chooses not to vote on electronic equipment. These ballots may be cast on sample or provisional ballots or other reasonable, available supplies of ballots.
If a voter who is otherwise entitled to cast a regular ballot does so on a paper provisional ballot, that ballot shall be handled as a regular ballot -not as a provisional ballot. This directive has been in effect for each election I have overseen - the 2005 Special Election and for both the 2006 Primary and the upcoming General Election.
Please be assured that I am dedicated to ensuring that all Californians are able to vote and have their vote counted accurately. No voter should ever be turned away or told to come back later because a voting system is not available when the voter appears.
For additional information on voting systems, please visit my web site at
Sincerely,BRUCE McPHERSONSecretary of State