Capitol Alert

California election officials push $450 million voting machine bond for 2018

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million voting-equipment borrowing measure on the June 2018 ballot, saying that many counties’ voting machines rely on outdated equipment that make them vulnerable to breakdowns and hacking.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.

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president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, said the bond would help counties replace “outdated and aging voting systems.”

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.

The measure will have its first hearing Wednesday in the Assembly Elections and Reapportionment Committee.