. Draft Legislation | Open Voting Consortium

Draft Legislation

Current state law requires that the vote counting process be publicly observable. However, with the advent of computerized vote counting processes, the ability of the public to meaningfully observe tabulation is limited since details of these systems are secret. Public scrutiny is lacking. The People of California declare that every voter has the right to know that votes are accurately recorded and counted.

This bill would require vendors to disclose all technical details when applying for state certification for a voting system. The Secretary of State would manage a process whereby citizens can obtain technical information free of charge, including computer source code, relevant to voting systems under review for certification as well as systems that have obtained state certification.

This public review process shall be in place by June 30, 2007. In the event that a vendor of a system certified before June 30, 2007 refuses to comply with disclosure requirements, their system(s) shall be decertified. The Secretary of State shall ensure that a suitable replacement be available.

This bill would require that to the extent that they are available for the purposes of this article, federal funds or the Voting Modernization Fund, a special fund, shall be used. The bill would prohibit the expenditure of General Fund moneys for these purposes.

By increasing the duties of local elections officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that the Legislature finds there is no mandate contained in the bill that will result in costs incurred by a local agency or school district for a new program or higher level of service which require reimbursement pursuant to these constitutional and statutory provisions.


a) By June 30, 2007, the Secretary of State shall not approve a voting system for use in a public election until all details of the inner workings of the system are publicly disclosed.

b) By June 30, 2007, while applying for voting system certification in the State of California a vendor shall have an implied or express provision granting:

i) To any and all residents of the State of California the right to inspect and test such Voting System, to retain test materials, test results, and to freely publish the same openly.

ii) The Vendor shall promise to refrain from exerting any copyright, trade secret, or other rights that it may have to hinder any resident of the State from exercising the right to inspect, test, and publish.

c) The Vendor may require reasonable notice of public testing and may require that the tests be performed in a matter that does not burden the vendor with significant costs beyond those of making the Voting System available.

d) The materials to be made freely available to the public include:

i) All voting system specific source code
ii) Detailed instructions for building the software, including compiler used, compilation scripts, checksums
iii) For voting specific hardware, complete specifications, drawings and schematics must be made available
iv) General purpose COTS components must be described in detail, including versions and dates of manufacture

e) By June 30, 2007 the Secretary of State shall establish and maintain a page on the Internet to provide the following:

i) Free download of materials pertaining to each voting system certified or under consideration for certification
ii) A system for acquiring and processing input from the public
iii) A reporting system to inform the public on findings, problems reported, problem resolution, comments from the Secretary of State, the public, and vendors
iv) Standards used by the Secretary of State for evaluating voting systems including test plans and specific test cases employed

For purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

a) "COTS" means Common Off-The-Shelf component that is manufactured in large quantities and is widely available.

b) "General purpose COTS devices" -- a COTS component intended for use in a variety of non-voting systems

c) "Voting specific" hardware or software means a component manufactured specifically for use in a voting system

d) "Vendor" -- Any person, partnership, corporation, or other entity that offers a Voting System, whether for money or not, to the State of California, to any county or city of the State of California, or to any government agency.

e) "Voting System" -- Any computerized machinery used in a Public Election to present one or more Contests to voters, to obtain voter choices, to verify voter choices, to store voter choices, to communicate voter choices, to tabulate voter choices, or to present partial or full results of one or more contests.

f) "Source code" -- computer instructions written by programmers

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