Debra Bowen

Debra Bowen
31st Secretary of State of California
Assumed office
January 8, 2007
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jerry Brown
Preceded by Bruce McPherson
Member of the California State Senate
from the 28th district
In office
Preceded by Ralph Dills
Succeeded by Jenny Oropeza
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 53rd district
In office
Preceded by Richard Floyd
Succeeded by George Nakano
Personal details
Born October 27, 1955 (1955-10-27) (age 56)
Rockford, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mark Nechodom
Alma mater Michigan State University
University of Virginia School of Law
Profession Lawyer

Debra Lynn Bowen (born October 27, 1955), a member of the Democratic Party, has been Secretary of State of California since January 8, 2007. Before that she was a member of the California State Legislature from 1992 to 2006. In March 2008, she was given the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.[1] Bowen is unable to run for a third term in 2014 due to term limits.


Background and education

Bowen was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, where she graduated from Guilford High School in 1973. She received her bachelor's degree in 1976 from Michigan State University, and her Juris Doctor in 1979 from the University of Virginia School of Law.[2][3] In 1984, she started her own California law firm.

Career in politics

Bowen began her career in politics on the Neighborhood Watch and Heal the Bay. [4]. Her first elected office was to the California State Assembly, where she represented the 53rd Assembly District in the South Bay area from 1992 to 1998. Bowen was first elected to the California State Senate, representing the 28th State Senate District, in 1998. Her district included all or portions of the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Venice, and Wilmington. Bowen chaired the California Senate's Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments. She also sat on the Energy, Utilities & Communications and Rules committees. Due to term limits, her service in the Senate ended in December 2006.

On June 6, 2006, Bowen faced Deborah Ortiz, another state senator, in the Democratic primary to run against Bruce McPherson for the position of California Secretary of State. Bowen won the primary by a 61-39 margin.[5] On November 2, Bowen defeated Republican candidate for reelection McPherson by a margin of 3%.[6]

She was re-elected on November 2, 2010 over Republican Damon Dunn.[7]

Candidacy for Congress seat

After incumbent Jane Harman announced she was vacating the seat,[8] Bowen was widely discussed as a possible candidate for the 36th congressional district special election to replace her.[9] On February 15, 2011, Bowen announced in an email to her supporters that she was entering the race.[10] Her candidacy was endorsed by former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean,[11] Democracy for America,[12] the California League of Conservation Voters,[13] and the California Nurses Association.[14]She came in third, not qualifying for the general election for the seat.[15]

Policy interests

Bowen is known for her pioneering support toward using the Internet to open government to computer users worldwide. In 1993, her first year in elected office, she successfully helped to pass legislative bill AB 1624,[16] landmark legislation making all of California's bill information available on the Internet. In the years since, she has fostered privacy protection in the electronic age and has promoted stronger auditing demands upon electronic voting equipment to ensure the accuracy of the vote. Her emphasis on fair elections has made her popular with the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

In May 2007, Bowen commissioned a "Top to Bottom Review" of California's electronic voting systems, to determine their security. On August 3, 2007, Bowen withdrew approval and certification and conditionally re-approved three electronic voting systems (Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems), and rescinded approval of a fourth system, (Election Systems & Software), after the top-to-bottom review of the voting machines found the machines to be highly insecure.[17][18] For these efforts she was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Bowen was interviewed for the January 16, 2008 broadcast of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer about her efforts to ensure California ballot integrity.[19]

Bowen was the keynote speaker for the 2008 Usenix Security Symposium and spoke on the subject of protecting elections.[20]


  1. ^ "Debra Bowen - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum". 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  2. ^ "About Debra Bowen - California Secretary of State". Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  3. ^ "Intersection of Technology, Democracy Influenced Bowen’s Path to California Secretary of State". 2010-03-03. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  4. ^ Maddaus, Gene (2011-02-15). "Debra Bowen Will Run For Congress - Los Angeles News - The Informer". Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "First Read - 2011: Harman to resign, setting up cycle's first special". 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  9. ^ Cruickshank, Robert. "Bowen for Congress". Calitics. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  10. ^ Merl, Jean (February 16, 2011). "Debra Bowen enters race to succeed Rep. Jane Harman". Los Angeles Times.,0,2179841.story. 
  11. ^ David Catanese (March 28, 2011 at 05:07 PM). "Howard Dean for Debra Bowen". Politico. 
  12. ^ "DFA Endorses Debra Bowen for CA 36". Democracy for America. Mar 23, 2011 2:51 PM. 
  13. ^ "News Release: CLCV endorses Debra Bowen for Congress | California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV)". 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  14. ^ California, Nevada, Texas Legislation. "California Endorsements". National Nurses United. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  15. ^ "Official Results for California's 36th Congressional District Special Election, 2011". 
  16. ^ "Bill List". Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  17. ^ "Top-To-Bottom Review". California Secretary of State. 2007-08-03. Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  18. ^ "Numerous media outlets publish misleading attacks on decision to limit electronic voting". Media Matters for America. 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  19. ^ Michels, Spencer (2008-01-16). "Ballot Blues in California". PBS. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  20. ^

External links

California Assembly
Preceded by
Richard Floyd
California State Assemblymember, 53rd District
December 7, 1992–November 30, 1998
Succeeded by
George Nakano
California Senate
Preceded by
Ralph Dills
California State Senator, 28th District
December 7, 1998–November 30, 2006
Succeeded by
Jenny Oropeza
Political offices
Preceded by
Bruce McPherson
California Secretary of State
January 8, 2007–present

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