Letters to the Editor: E-Voting and Government Transparency

Readers respond to stories on California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and public employee salary databases.

by News Staff / October 1, 2008

Rocking the Vote
As the IT manager for a Southern California county department, I could not disagree more with your article [Why California Secretary of State Debra Bowen Pulled the Plug on E-Voting, August 2008] regarding the "essentially outlawed" use of touchscreen voting machines. I personally was called in (along with other IT staff) during the primary election, to help the Registrar of Voters (ROV) with the ballot counting process. The ROV was forced to use the outdated optical scanning machines as the electronic voting machines had been decertified. I found the process cumbersome, labor-intensive and time-consuming. Delays caused by slow batch processing and the volume of votes cast caused our county to be one of the last in the state to report the final vote tally.

After working in the IT industry for almost 30 years, I find it very difficult to believe that the collective genius of industry leaders cannot develop devices that are secure, reliable and cost-effective. In my opinion, the industry has a philanthropic-type duty to society to assist with the development, testing, certification and implementation of a quality solution that can be depended upon for accurate and timely vote tabulation and recording.

If we are to engage current active voters, the disenfranchised potential voters and the edgy group - next-generation voters - then it is essential that current industry leaders develop and deploy a much-needed secure solution and help ensure the ongoing success of our democratic process.

Timothy S. Meyer
Business Applications Manager,
Information Services Department,
County of San Bernardino, Calif.

Transparently Successful
I love your latest Last Mile column [Public Employee Salary Databases Push Transparency Debate, August 2008] on government transparency. But I have a better example for you - my agency!
We are fully transparent in our operations, down to how much each project costs, what projects are delayed and mapping of the citywide street network including the failures - but we cannot get press on this. Nobody is willing to take a look at our operations and say - this is the way every government should operate. What we get is - "Well, you are small, so it is easy for you to do what you are doing." ... No it isn't. What we found is that once you operate in a truly open environment, it is very easy to be transparent and show the public where their money is being spent.

I would like to challenge every government in the U.S. to be like our little agency, the Little Agency that Could.

Please, take a look at the dashboard on our Web site and peruse what we have accomplished in only four years. Then tell me that other governments can't be transparent and open like we are.

Rhonda Reinke
Chief Administrative Officer,
Washington state Transportation Improvement Board