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Public Statements

Issue Position: Transparency in Government

Issue Position

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Date:
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I am proud that so many people recognize me as a pioneer in open government. Transparency is critical to a functioning democracy. We each have the right to know what our government is up to, and you shouldn't need a law degree to know what's going on in your country.

A critical component to this is ensuring the integrity of our elections. After taking office in 2007, I ordered a groundbreaking top-to-bottom review of California's voting systems that has since been emulated by other states. When this review by dozens of independent experts revealed significant flaws in every voting system examined, I shored up election security in unprecedented ways. I created detailed conditions for use of each type of voting system and imposed strict limits on the use of direct recording electronic (DRE), also known as touchscreen machines. For this trailblazing leadership in strengthening democracy, I was honored to be recognized nationally with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, one of the highest global honors for public servants who choose principles over partisanship.

I have also long championed the use of technology to make many of government's functions more transparent and accessible. In 1993, just months after being elected to the State Assembly, I authored the first-in-the-world law that put legislative information online, giving Californians and everyone around the world immediate access to information about state lawmakers' bills, voting records, and more I was the first California lawmaker to voluntarily put my campaign finance reports on the Internet in 1995, five years before all candidates for state office were required to do so. Currently I oversee the disclosure of all state officials' campaign finance documents and all lobbying activity reports.

I enhanced round-the-clock public access to elections information by expanding phone and website services, offering webcasts and transcripts of public hearings, and adding many more details about how the process of conducting an election works, I made memorandums issued to county elections officials, which had previously been private, available to all on line.

I broadened the agency's availability through social media such as Facebook and YouTube, and established an automatic email feed of Secretary of State news and directives. Today, anyone can subscribe to RSS and Twitter feeds of information about agency news, voting systems, ballot measures and elections administration.

I improved the way people receive important information about elections and voting rights in paper, online and audio formats, developing a downloadable audio version of the statewide voter guide that can be played on home computers and MP3 devices.

As custodian of the State Archives, I pushed back on people and businesses looking to profit by selling public treasures. Through a new law I sponsored, state and local governments can now more easily recover records that rightfully belong to all Californians but have slipped into private hands or even the marketplace.


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