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Verified Voting Names New President and CEO

Verified Voting Names New President and CEO

Verified Voting Foundation
January 12th, 2006

Verified Voting Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 12, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - Verified Voting today announced the appointment of its new President and Chief Executive Officer, Courtenay Strickland Bhatia. Bhatia comes to Verified Voting after spending the last five years in Florida where she worked to protect the voting rights of Floridians in the wake of the 2000 election.

"Courtenay comes to us with a superb resume in the area of voting rights," said Verified Voting Founder David L. Dill, Stanford University Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and a nationally recognized expert on systems verification. "Not only has she worked on a broad range of election reform issues and directed a grassroots-based public policy campaign, but she also co-founded one of the most successful local coalitions working in the area of voting systems reform and election verification. I have every confidence that with Courtenay's leadership, Verified Voting will make a vital contribution to the goal of achieving reliable and publicly verifiable elections."

Bhatia will officially take the helm of Verified Voting on February 27, 2006. She is currently the Voting Rights Project Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida. In that position, she has lobbied the Florida Legislature concerning post-2000 reforms, advocated against unnecessary restrictions on provisional balloting, and worked to increase access to the democratic process for voters in language minorities. She also currently serves as Public Relations Director for the League of Women Voters of Florida, and as a board member of the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade.

"As a voting rights advocate, I have been impressed by the work and reputation of Verified Voting. I am thrilled that the board has placed its confidence in me to take the organization to the next level," said Bhatia, 31, who was selected after a nationwide search. "I feel that my vision for our work is America's vision: the right to vote consists of not only the right to cast a ballot, but also the right to have that ballot counted accurately. I'm dedicated to achieving reforms that will not only ensure reliable, publicly verifiable elections without sacrificing voters' privacy and independence at the polls, but that will also leave no qualified voter behind. Ending voter disenfranchisement must be part of the equation."

As director of the Florida ACLU’s campaign to restore the voting and civil rights of the 600,000+ citizens of Florida who lost those rights due to a past felony conviction, Bhatia developed a program of assistance for those seeking to restore their right to vote through Florida’s clemency process. In 2002, Bhatia co-founded the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, now recognized nationally as a leading advocate of progressive voting practices.

Bhatia, who was raised in small-town Georgia as the daughter of a Baptist minister, began her civil rights work in 1998 at the ACLU’s Washington state affiliate. She holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Yale University, where she was also president of the Yale Political Union. She will be residing in San Francisco with her husband, Rajeev Bhatia.

Verified Voting board member Ted Mohns summed up the nationwide search as follows, "The process of conducting a national search was challenging, but we feel Courtenay has the whole package: education, breadth of experience, and infectious passion for our work. She is exactly the type of leader our organization needs and deserves."

Verified Voting consists of VerifiedVoting.org, a non-profit lobbying organization, and the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization for public education. Together, the two organizations work to achieve reliable, publicly verifiable elections by securing our voting systems to prevent electronic failures and fraud, and by identifying and advocating for best practices in election administration. Verified Voting also calls for all aspects of the voting process to be open to and observable by the public, from the testing and certification of machines through the final tabulation and canvass of the ballots.

Among its objectives, Verified Voting advocates that all voting systems provide accessible voter-verified paper records (VVPR) to enable voters to verify individual permanent records of their ballots and to provide the essential ingredient required for meaningful recounts and routine election audits. At present, Verified Voting encourages the use of precinct-count optical scan voting systems and accessible ballot-marking devices as the most practical, cost-effective and accessible means of providing those capabilities.

Courtenay Strickland Bhatia will be available for in-person media interviews in San Francisco from Friday, January 13 through Tuesday, January 17. Contact Verified Voting at 415 487-2255 or reach Courtenay on her cell at 305 490-5228.

For more about Verified Voting, visit the Verified Voting Foundation at http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org

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