BOSTON (AP) – Two officials who challenged the reliability of electronic voting systems were honored Monday at the John F. Kennedy Library for their efforts to maintain the integrity of the vote in their respective states.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner were presented with Profile in Courage Awards, annual honors named for a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by John F. Kennedy.

“Our political system depends on voter trust. Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner’s efforts to earn that trust have made them true profiles in courage,” said Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President Kennedy and head of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation which administers the awards.

In California, Bowen severely restricted the use of electronic voting systems six months before the Feb. 5 presidential primary, after an independent review found they could be hacked.

Many county registrars were furious with her decision, which they said left them little time to get ready for the early primary.

The switch overwhelmed election workers in some of the state’s most populous counties, stretching the election night count into the next morning.

“Her position was highly unpopular, but she didn’t hesitate,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said in presenting the award Monday. “She began the daunting task of ensuring fair and accurate voting.”

In Ohio, Brunner required counties using electronic voting systems to give paper ballots to voters who requested them in the primary election held this month. She also ordered county officials to replace their electronic voting systems with paper ballots and optical scan technology by the November general election.

Brunner said she was trying to comprehend that from emotionally charged and controversial work “can emerge honor and dignity in the attempt to move forward the human causes of fairness, equality and respect.”

A Profile in Courage award also was given Monday to former Mississippi Gov. William Winter for promoting racial equality and educational opportunity in his state.

In accepting the award for his lifetime of work, he lamented a lack of emphasis now being put on civic learning, and said that could be a “fatal flaw” in the capacity of future leaders to lead.

“Without a knowledge of what has transpired before, they may well fall into the trap of repeating the old mistakes and ignoring the lessons that earlier generations paid so dearly to learn,” he said.


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