A pioneer in open government reform, election integrity, and personal privacy rights, Debra Bowen became only the sixth woman in California history elected to a statewide constitutional office when she was elected as Secretary of State in November 2006.
As the chief elections officer for the largest state in the nation, Secretary Bowen is responsible for overseeing state and federal elections, a role that also requires her to test and certify the voting equipment used in California. Her goal is to ensure that voting machines certified for use in Californians elections are secure, accurate, reliable, and accessible, and every voter’s ballot is counted exactly as it was cast. In her first year in office, Secretary Bowen commissioned an independent, top-to-bottom review of voting technology, as well as a comprehensive review of the state’s decades-old election auditing standards. Following the top-to-bottom review, Bowen strictly limited the use of direct recording electronic voting machines, and imposed significant security and auditing requirements on systems used in California elections. Secretary Bowen was recognized for her national leadership in election integrity with the 2008 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage AwardTM, the nation’s most prestigious honor for elected public servants who choose principles over partisanship.
Secretary Bowen is also responsible for helping to carry out election laws and campaign disclosure requirements by maintaining a statewide database of registered voters, certifying the official lists of candidates for each election, tracking and certifying ballot initiatives, compiling election returns, and certifying the election results for all state and federal contests.
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