CA Legislature to Consider Placing $450M Voting Equipment Bond on June 2018 Ballot

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California voters could soon have the opportunity to decide whether to support a $450 million state bond for new voting equipment, if the Legislature adopts a bill recently introduced to put the bond on the June 2018 ballot. The Sacramento Bee has more:

California elections officials want state lawmakers to place a $450 million voting-equipment borrowing measure on the June 2018 ballot, saying that many counties’ voting machines rely on outdated equipment that make them vulnerable to breakdowns and hacking.

The bond measure in Assembly Bill 668 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales, D-San Diego, would be more than double the size of the last voting machine borrowing proposal to go on the ballot. In March 2002, voters approved Proposition 41, a $200 million bond prompted by disputed Florida presidential vote in 2000 that highlighted hanging chads and other voting equipment problems.

Some of the machines purchased with Proposition 41 money later were decertified after state officials imposed new paper-trail requirements and other rules. Counties either retrofitted machines to bring them into compliance or pulled older equipment back into use.

The state’s top election official and key local officials are touting the bond as a way to combat the obsolescence of voting technology:

Secretary of State Alex Padilla said California voters recognize the importance of secure and accurate vote tabulation.

“Nobody would settle for a 15-year-old cellphone, 15-year-old computer on their desk, let alone a 15-year-old firewall or encryption,” Padilla said, who supports AB 668.

Dean Logan, Los Angeles County’s registrar-recorder/county clerk and the president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, said the bond would help counties replace “outdated and aging voting systems.”

There are two potential roadblocks: the bond would require counties to contribute to the cost (money they may not have or wish to spend), and the Governor is not a fan of borrowing generally:

Counties could apply for the bond money to upgrade equipment but would have to put up county-generated matching funds to qualify.

Gov. Jerry Brown opposes most borrowing proposals, citing the expense of debt service. Padilla said he has not spoken to Brown about the bill but plans to.

If the bill does pass and the bond makes it on the ballot, voter approval would provide local officials with a significant boost in equipment funding – but there are many steps to take in the next year before that happens. The proposal gets its first legislative hearing this week. You can bet it will get lots of attention from election officials and other policymakers in the Golden State.

Stay tuned …

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