SATURDAY BOWEN BLOGGING….Along with a few other LA-based bloggers I had dinner last night with Debra Bowen, who’s running for California Secretary of State this year. She was very impressive: technically literate, very knowledgable about voting technologies (electronic voting, absentee voting, audit trails, etc.), and genuinely dedicated to transparency and citizen access to state information. She explained why legislation to require open source software for voting machines is likely to fail (Microsoft doesn’t like it) and why simple, reliable technologies like SAT-style optical mark ballots are a nonstarter these days (the HAVA act requires that disabled voters be able to cast ballots without assistance, and since county registrars don’t want to deal with two different technologies it means most of them default to e-voting for everyone).

All in all, an informative and enjoyable evening. But most impressive of all was this: When I introduced myself, Bowen’s first words were, “Oh! Friday cat blogging.” Now that’s a politician who knows her constituency! Inkblot, who thinks America’s voting problems could be solved by extending the franchise to cats, was so impressed that he even roused himself momentarily to peek outside the sock drawer he slept in last night. Then he went back to sleep.