Debra Bowen

2008 PICA Winner Debra Bowen

After a $450 million investment by California counties in electronic voting systems aimed at modernizing elections, newly elected Secretary of State Debra Bowen ordered an independent review of the new voting technologies to ensure they adequately protected the integrity of the vote. When the study revealed troubling flaws in the systems, Bowen strictly limited the use of direct-recording electronic voting machines, and imposed significant security and auditing requirements on systems to be used in California’s February 5 presidential primary election. Bowen’s decision was met with resistance by voting system vendors, who criticized the study’s design, and many county elections officials, who contended the switch to paper balloting would result in massive delays in the reporting of election results. For her bold leadership and her steadfast resolve to protect the integrity of the vote, Debra Bowen is honored with the 2008 Profile in Courage Award.