California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is among this year’s recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, cited for her imposition of strict new controls on electronic voting despite the political fallout. John F. Kennedy Library Foundation president Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., will present Bowen with the award at a May 12 ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner received the same award for similar work to ensure the integrity of her state’s vote, while a special lifetime achievement award goes to former Mississippi Gov. William Winter for leadership in championing racial equality and educational opportunity.
“As we prepare to cast our ballots for the next President of the United States, our confidence in the integrity and reliability of the voting process has never been more important,” Caroline Kennedy said in a news release. “Secretaries of State Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner have each demonstrated exceptional leadership in working to ensure that voting systems provide a full and accurate count of the vote. Our democracy depends on voter trust. Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner’s efforts to earn that trust have made them true profiles in courage.”
Per the release:
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 and many county elections officials.
The JFK Profile in Courage Award goes to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. It’s named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, recounting the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers — incurring constituents’ or powerful interest groups’ wrath — by taking principled stands for unpopular positions. The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the award in 1989.
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