Re: Microsoft-backed Consortium, AeA, Opposing Open Voting Bill, AB 852

From: David Jefferson <d_jefferson_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Thu Apr 26 2007 - 18:02:53 CDT

Here is an interesting historical analogy to what Alan is saying. I learned it from a TV show last night. It was of profound importance 400 years ago.

One of Martin Luther's great arguments with the Roman Catholic church was his belief that everyone--not just priests--should be able to read and interpret Holy Scripture for themselves. It was a profoundly democratic idea at the time. It required that the Bible be translated from Latin to vernacular languages, and that it be mass printed in affordable editions.

The Church hierarchy was outraged and profoundly opposed to this idea, and made it a crime to participate in such activities. People were burned at the stake for violating this law, including William Tyndale, the original translator of the Bible into English, whose work was the basis for the King James Version. This, among other issues, was a founding idea of the Protestant reformation.

Martin Luther's vision might, in today's terminology, have been called "Open Scripture". Openness has been an issue in western civilization for a long time.


----- Original Message ----
From: Alan Dechert <>
To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list <>
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 8:27:52 AM
Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Microsoft-backed Consortium, AeA, Opposing Open Voting Bill, AB 852

Lillie wrote,

> However, that is not the point of open source access to
> voting technology it is the principles of self governance.

I often use the analogy of having openly available legal code. Any of us
can look up any state or federal legal code (the Internet has proven to be a
great tool of democracy in this and other regards).

I don't have any statistics on it, but I suspect only a small percentage of
the population ever reads any legal code. Relatively few have the time
and/or training to do a good analysis. And there is so much of it, it is
truely a daunting task.

But it is nobody's business to decide who should have access to legal code
and who should not. This code describes processes and rules by which
society is supposed to be run. Principles of self governance require that
anyone subject to these rules must have access to them so as to know how
things are supposed to work and to enable improvement should someone think
of changes that are needed.

Open source computer code for election software is more than analogous to
the legal code example: it is a subset of processes and rules that apply to
the way society is run. We require access to the computer code for exactly
the same reason we require access to legal code. We have an absolute right
to know how it works (or is supposed to work).

Alan D.

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Received on Mon Apr 30 23:17:15 2007

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