On Feb. 25, California Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced a new bill that would let counties in the state develop, own and operate their own public voting systems. SB 360, which would subject such systems to approval and certification by the California Secretary of State, would allow California counties, most of which purchase their voting systems from one of five private vendors, take control of public voting technology, according to a press release. Because the vendors offer a variety of systems and upgrades, the result is a complex system of various technologies throughout the state. The private vendors also consider their technology proprietary; they limit public access to both the operating software and hardware. This means that state election officials and the public are dependent upon these companies, which are not required to notify federal election officials or the public when their voting systems malfunction, or have vulnerabilities or defects.
“Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “A public voting system will be more transparent, instill public trust and be more accountable than our current systems.”
Los Angeles County already is looking to develop its own system after concluding that private vendors could not meet the unique needs of its 10 million residents and more than 500 political districts. In 2009, the Los Angeles County Registrar/County Clerk launched the Voting Systems Assessment Project with the goal of replacing its 30-year-old system.
“Who better to develop a new voting system than the election officials we trust to conduct our elections?” Padilla said.