The Napa Valley Register


After outburst, Tuteur owes Bowen an apology


By Ty Meissner

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Shame on Napa County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur. Shame on you for besmirching your own sterling reputation by taking a cheap potshot at Secretary of State Debra Bowen for demonstrating her concern that every California voter’s vote is correctly and accurately recorded and tabulated.


As stated by investigative reporter Brad Friedman (, Tuteur misrepresented Bowen’s report in this way: While Napa could run an election with one voting machine per polling place, it wouldn’t be easy, Tuteur said. And if the county is required to recount every vote cast on those touch-screen machines by hand, it could take weeks.

We’ve come to expect Tuteur to be willing to say absolutely anything, as he demonstrated last week in Sacramento when he gave a statement at the public hearing held by Bowen concerning her “top-to-bottom review” of voting systems. Said Tuteur at that hearing, “The top-to-bottom review has no relevance to the real world conduct of elections within the framework I have just discussed and has wasted almost $1 million dollars of scarce federal funds. This top-to-bottom review deserves the same admonition that I gave to former Secretary Kevin Shelley after his decertification fiasco. Secretary Bowen, you should know better than to erode the public’s confidence in California’s fair and accurate elections process for crass political purposes. (He turns to face Secretary Bowen) Shame on you.”


Mr. Tuteur, you are a highly intelligent person who once enjoyed a reputation for forthrightness and integrity. When you should be and no doubt are aware of the many problems that various jurisdictions throughout the U.S. have had with misrecorded votes, improper over votes and under votes and disappearing votes associated with computerized voting equipment ever since its introduction, not only in Florida and Ohio but in California as well, why would you stoop to taking partisan cheap shots at our Secretary of State for doing her job with a dedication and non-partisan professionalism you should envy? Do you have a vested interest in being able to control the outcomes of elections? If so, you don’t deserve the excellent reputation you have carried for so many years.


I insist that you owe an apology to Secretary of State Bowen for besmirching her reputation and accusing her of partisanship when, in fact, it is you who is behaving in a partisan and dishonorable manner.


By making your unwarranted cheap shot attack on Secretary Bowen, you have further damaged your own reputation to an extent from which it may never recover. We all say things we later regret, but when one is a public servant holding such an important office as yours, the consequences of ill-considered remarks can be huge. The only way you can hope to repair your badly damaged reputation is to make a prompt and sincere apology to Secretary Bowen. The ball is now in your court. The citizens of Napa are waiting for you to make the next move.


(Meissner lives in Napa.)


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