The JFK Presidential Library and Museum announced that California Secretary of State Debra Bowen will receive its prestigious John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Bowen was selected for her decision last year to de-certify electronic voting machines after a number of security flaws were discovered.
The honor goes to "public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences," according to a press release from the JFK Library Foundation, which created the award.
Bowen’s decision last August was unpopular with many county elections officials, who felt it was an overreaction after they collectively had spent multimillions on electronic machines affected by the new restrictions.
Accompanying the announcement of the award was this statement from the Kennedy Library:
“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.”
Also honored are Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner; former Mississippi Governor William Winter will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts in championing racial equality and educational opportunity.
Congratulations to all three honorees, and many thanks to the Kennedy Library for acknowledging the hard work, under difficult conditions and against powerful adversaries, of all three Profiles in Courage.