The future of voting technologyAmong other things, OVC developed an open source ballot printer system ten years ago. We've changed, the world is changing. It's 2014: Now we trust our smartphones for banking, email, private messages, and many other functions. The California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO) just might make this work. See the video PSA narrated by the great Peter Coyote.
Recent News & Events
From: Open Voting Consortium
The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) issued their report (GAO-05-956) to Congress on the security of electronic voting systems.
Generally, it's a good report and we're pleased to see it. It affirms that there is a lot of work needed to improve the voting system, and OVC is recognized as working to "Improve Voting System Security and Reliability."
On the down side, the lack of transparency is not seen as a major problem in the report. However, the GAO defers to the EAC for immediate action on standards to improve the current election systems.
The GAO report says Open Voting Consortium, "Developed a prototype for an open-source electronic voting application that uses commercial hardware and operating system components and provides (1) an electronic voting machine that prints a paper ballot, (2) a ballot verification station that scans the paper ballot and lets a voter hear the selections, and (3) an application to tally the paper ballots."
From: Open Voting Consortium (Alan Dechert)
A bill that requires that "all test plans, test results, documentation, and other records used to plan, execute, record the results of the testing and verification" was signed into law on AUG 22nd by Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich (Dem).
OVC supporters in Illinois have already made requests for the URL where they can download the materials.
The part of interest to Open Voting is a just a few lines -- but potentially very powerful. The relevant section of HB1968 is on page 186, lines 19 through 25, and it reads as follows:
19 All test plans, test results,
The next Revolution will be Economic…
And we’ve just seen the 2005 Molotov Cocktail deluxe. Masquerading as a low key fundraising website, Wikifund.org puts some serious fiscal firepower in the hands of us average folk. The first thing you notice when browsing the site is the number of zeroes. There are some big projects being funded, some of which could affect the course of entire countries. For example, the Open Voting project: Wikifund has teamed with the Open Voting Consortium (http://openvoting.org) to get a secure, verifiable, open source voting system nationally certified. The cost? A cool million in software development, testing, and certification fees. The ramifications of this project are huge. Not only would it restore confidence in our democratic system, but it would actually save taxpayers billions in equipment cost alone. Why? Aside from being completely free (BSD Licensing), the software would run on any platform, making it possible to use use commonly available hardware. Not only that, but it would be practical to manufacture dedicated hardware for a fraction of the $3000+ companies like Diebold are charging.
From: Open Voting Consortium
At our board meeting last week (SEP 15), the Open Voting Consortium (OVC) voted to use modified BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) for software developed by OVC.
This decision was made after much research and deliberation over the last two years. The demo (prototype) software developed by OVC used a custom modifed GPL (General Public License).
OVC board member and University of Illinois law professor Peter Maggs voted in favor of the resolution stating that he was against creating a new license. His viewpoint is consistent with input from many other sources. The resolution was introduced by David Mertz, OVC VP and Chief Technical Officer.
by Paul Andrews
The Seattle Times
By most indicators, Frank Love Elementary School in Bothell was just another suburban voting location last week.
Makeshift "Polling Place" signs and storybook paw prints in blue paint marked the path to the school library, which housed six voting booths. The room was quiet and orderly, and poll personnel were helpful and personable.
Still, Fred McLain had to figuratively hold his nose when he cast his ballot Tuesday morning. McLain voted using a computer equipped with a touch screen, but it lacked any method for him to confirm that his vote had been recorded properly and counted correctly.
Those who hold the sacred trust of overseeing the election procedures and voting systems in this country are an alphabet-soup of organizations. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS); the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED), the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC); the Election Center. What do these groups have in common? They either receive their funding from the vendors or are greatly influenced by those who do receive funding from the vendors. We can only hope that the EAC can resist the influence. The others haven't.
by Alan Dechert and David Mertz, Ph.D.
We citizens often see billion-dollar government contracts turn on a single vote in a city council. Lives, careers, and large amounts of money are routinely at stake in local elections. At State and Federal levels, the stakes are even higher. The future of our country and democracy itself is continually at risk. With so much at stake, how likely is it that cheating will occur?
Throughout American history, voting systems have evolved  as measures were taken to thwart cheaters. This has been an uneven process, sometimes utilizing inappropriate technologies. Punch cards, for example, were an aging holdover of an earlier computer age when they were widely used for voting in 2000.
by ANDREW GUMBEL
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has been monitoring elections in emerging democracies ever since the fall of the Berlin wall, but now it has done something different and uniquely controversial. It has turned its attention to the United States, issuing a report that highlights numerous areas in which this past November's presidential and Congressional elections failed to meet international standards.
One would have thought the voter reform movement in this country would jump at the chance to see the United States judged by the same criteria as Ukraine, Georgia or Kyrgyzstan--especially since the report finds it badly wanting. Here, in black and white, is authoritative proof that the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, the uneven rules applied to provisional balloting, the unreliability of voter registration procedures and the dual role of election supervisors who also help run partisan political campaigns are not merely objectionable but also violate international norms to which the United States, as a participating member of the fifty-five-nation OSCE, is a leading signatory.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA- On February 27 Congresswoman Maxine Waters spoke at the “Who Got Glitched and How Do We Fix It” Teach-In organized by Citizens Act. “We can have no voting machine that does not have a paper trail!” she proclaimed to the crowd. After her talk Open Voting Consortium Director of Development Lara Shaffer spoke with her about the Open Voting Consortium’s open voting system which includes a voter verified paper ballot summary that counts as the vote and runs on open source software.
Shaffer also spoke with Bob Fitrakis, reporter for Freepress.org and one of the four lawyers who filed the Moss v. Bush lawsuit that drew national attention to the problems with the 2004 General Election in Ohio. “I looked at your brochure and think it’s a good system,” he said. He signed the endorsement statement as did Medea Benjamin, Founding Director of Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org) and co-founder of Code Pink.
From: Open Voting Consortium
On Wednesday, February 23, United Voters of New Mexico, a coalition of many election reform groups in New Mexico met with the press and lobbied their legislators. Their goal was to get a senate bill introduced that would require New Mexico to have voter verified paper ballots (where the ballot becomes the official record of the voter’s intent to do audits and recounts with) and an automatic audit after each election. “Seventy people lobbied their legislators and the legislators seem to be listening to us,” said Wayne Burke, organizer of United Voters of New Mexico. United Voters of New Mexico will now work closely with legislators on the language of the bill and work to get it passed before the legislative session ends March 17th.