San Francisco pilot approval would help California secure voting rights

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In summary

Secretary of State Shirley Weber is set to take a key step by May 7 toward approving open-source voting for California, long advocated by election security experts and election integrity activists.

Christine Pelosi, special at CalMatters

Christine Pelosi is a lawyer and former chair of the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus.

Earlier this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pilot an open-source voting system in the November election. Now San Francisco and the rest of the state need California Secretary of State Shirley Weber to approve this pilot plan — and she must act by May 7.

Election Security Experts and Election Integrity Activists have long demanded that the computer source code for voting machines be open source. Unlike the secret source code of proprietary for-profit voting systems used in California and other states, open source voting systems are open to public inspection. Thus, any claim regarding the security and accuracy of the vote can be independently verified by anyone.

As long-time leaders in electing women to public office, we often hear that voters want to trust that their votes will count – and be counted as cast.

That’s why we pushed the Legislature to pass a 2013 law, Senate Bill 360, to allow counties to pilot open source voting systems. Weber, then a member of the Assembly, voted yes. Today, as Secretary of State, she has the opportunity to strengthen a fundamental aspect of the right to vote: ensuring public confidence that our votes will be counted in a safe and transparent manner.

SB 360 required the Secretary of State to issue regulations for open source drivers. If these regulations are not published before the election, San Francisco cannot legally conduct a pilot project.

San Francisco submitted its plan for a pilot in the November election on Feb. 7. It follows SB 360 requirements and the Secretary of State’s preliminary guidelines, and calls on the San Francisco Department of Elections and nonprofit open-source provider VotingWorks to work together and make pre-election improvements based on feedback. of the county and voters – one of the main objectives of a pilot project.

The secretary of state must approve San Francisco’s plan by May 7 — without adding any requirements the seller can’t meet — and then start the public regulatory process.

Senator Alex Padilla, former Secretary of State of California, said it well: “Open source is the pinnacle of transparency and accountability for everyone.

Hurry up.

More than 4,000 Californians have signed California Clean Money Campaign petitions supporting the San Francisco pilot project. San Francisco Board of Supervisors Chairman Shamann Walton authored the city’s open-source pilot ordinance, and Mayor London Breed signed it.

It would be the first open source pilot in California – a key step in approving open source voting for the entire state.

The California Democratic Party Platform has called for open source software to ensure transparency in voting systems since 2012. California’s Little Hoover Independent Commission also did so last year, citing Matt Bishop, professor and computer security researcher at the University of California at Davis. “If we want elections to be transparent, then people should be able to see how their votes are counted,” he said.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin increasingly attacks US support for Ukraine, intelligence officials warn that Russia is likely to step up attacks on US election infrastructure.

We believe the time has come to secure our votes.

Weber knows from his own lived experience that the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. She has dedicated her career to protecting and expanding voting rights.

Right now, Secretary Weber has an opportunity to lead the nation and strengthen suffrage for all by helping open source voting become a reality. We respectfully urge him to endorse the San Francisco Open Source Voting Pilot Project.

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