Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Time to upgrade California voting machines?

Election officials process the ballots by machine at the Sacramento County Elections office on November 13, 2012.
Election officials process the ballots by machine at the Sacramento County Elections office on November 13, 2012. rbyer@sacbee.com

California’s election infrastructure could use an upgrade.

It’s not just a matter of the state’s creaky campaign finance database, which California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has likened to a certain horror movie mainstay, or the voter registration database gradually coming online. There’s also the matter of the voting machinery itself, which is the subject of a Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee hearing today.

Most voting equipment in California has been around for a decade or longer and relies on old technology, leading Padilla to warn in an op-ed about “aging voting systems that may fail.” Part of the issue is a cumulative cost of around $450 million which must be born by counties. Padilla wants more state funding, though he has also cast the need for upgrades as an opportunity to fundamentally rethink how we conduct elections. Padilla and other election experts will be discussing the obstacles and the possibilities during the 1:30 hearing in room 3191 at the Capitol.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: No experience? No matter! You can still get a state job.

READY, AIM: Lawmakers have loaded up with a new round of gun control bills, including measures to restrict so-called “bullet buttons” and to extend mandatory 30-day waiting periods to more types of guns. With the first round up in Assembly Public Safety Committee today, several Democratic Assembly members will be promoting their bills alongside a display of long guns in room 317 at 9:15 a.m.

ARBITRARY: The phrase “mandatory arbitration clause” may glaze your retinas, but it’s a source of much conflict. Business and labor have clashed over having employees settle disputes via arbitration, and though Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a big-ticket labor bill limiting the process, debate smolders on. Today a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will take a look, drawing on a range of legal experts for a 1:30 p.m. hearing in room 4203.

SHAKEN: Earthquake safety is a perennial quest for lawmakers with faulty districts, whether they represent the south state or the home of the 2014 Napa quake. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on State Administration will hold a hearing on seismic safety today, hearing about local efforts from Bay Area and Los Angeles experts before turning to state officials to learn more about the state’s role. Starting at 1:30 p.m. in room 447.

SAVE THE DATA: Open data has become the holy grail of good government and transparency advocates, not to mention a certain gubernatorial candidate. Today the Washington, D.C. based Data Coalition is holding a demo day on making information accessible to citizens and using it to help state agencies stay compliant. Speakers at the conference, which takes place this morning at the Capitol Event Center, are expected to include Assembly members Ling Ling Chang, Evan Low and Brian Maienschein.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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