Announcement, APT, formats, publicity

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Thu Aug 07 2003 - 12:50:32 CDT

I tie together a few topics here. First, as a demonstration for the APT
documentation format I am advocating, I converted Alan's announcement
into APT format, and I include that below just to show how little needed
to be done.

Then I ran the APT file through 'aptconvert' a few times. This is just
a matter of, e.g.:

    % aptconvert announce.tex announce.apt

(well, that's actually a script that makes sure a few environment vars
are defined for Java, but very minimal). The target format is based on
the extension used.

Some results are copied to:

All of which look very nice, IMO.

So tying in with this. Some of you have probably noticed that slashdot
is today running another story on the security problems with the Diebold
voting machines (specifically, Maryland is moving in a good direction by
insisting on an audit of the code). I've seen quite a few related
stories at that very popular site.

I would like to post a story to slashdot on the launch of our project.
But I don't want to do so until it is cleared--especially with those
whose URLs might be affected by the "slashdot effect".... you'll get a
LOT of traffic. Alan's announcement itself I'd figured to put on my
slashdot-proof site. But I don't know how Alan's host would
hold up. And I'd like to mention the mailing list archive (which is on
a different host, that I'm somewhat less sure about).

But even apart from the traffic issue, there's the general publicity
strategy. I think it would be good to get a whole lot of technie people
aware of the project, and anticipating its outcome. A few might join as
programmers/testers. Generally, the slashdot readership is low on
politicians and election-expert lawyers, and high on teenage hackers.
But there's quite a range of people... and even a few of the college
kids might wind up writing a letter to their congresscritters.

What do you all think?

Yours, David...

---* The APT document *------------------------------------------------

             Electronic Voting Project Announcement
                       Alan Dechert
                     Wed, 6 Aug 2003

Silicon Valley Computer Scientists Team Up to Demonstrate Free
Voting Machine

  Scientists and engineers from the Silicon Valley have started a
  project aimed at developing a PC based voting machine they
  claim will be easier to use, more tamper-resistant, and cheaper
  than commercially available voting machines.

  Computerized voting offers many advantages over traditional
  systems, including,

   * The ability to easily handle multiple languages,

   * Meeting the needs of voters with disabilities,

   * Eliminates problems such as overvoting and other voter
     intent issues.

  PCs that are four to five years old exist in great abundance
  and have more than enough power to make great voting machines.
  More than 25 million such PCs are retired annually in the
  United States alone. Less than 10 percent of these discarded
  PCs would be needed for all the voting booths in the U.S.

  The concept has already been demonstrated in Australia where,
  in 2001, the Australian Capital Territory government
  commissioned the development of open source software to run on
  trailing-edge PCs set up in polling places as voting machines.

  The project, known as EVM, includes participants from around
  the United States as well as a few developers from overseas.
  EVM will differ from the Australian system in several ways.
  Most importantly, the machine will include a printer from which
  a completed paper ballot will be produced. It will work with
  either a touch screen or a regular monitor and mouse.

  The project developer, Alan Dechert, got EVM going with help
  from Stanford computer scientist David Dill, who referred
  several people to him. Arthur Keller, a UC Santa Cruz computer
  science professor, recruited a former student of his, Adrianne
  Yu Wang of San Jose, to be the Project Lead. Along with Ed
  Cherlin of Cupertino and Jack Walther of Santa Cruz, they chose
  to use the "Python" computer language for development of the
  demonstration system. Douglas W. Jones, a University of Iowa
  computer science professor and world-renowned expert on voting
  technology, is taking a very active role as advisor and mentor.

  Dr. David Mertz of Massachusetts, a well-known writer on
  computer programming issues, has also taken a very active role.
  Other key people include QA Lead Matt Shomphe of Los Angeles,
  and Lead Developer Anand Pillai of Bangalore, India. Van
  Lindberg (Utah), Skip Montanaro (Illinois), Dennis Paull
  (California), and Matteo Giacomazzi (Italy) are all
  contributing their expertise to the project.

  The EVM project is using the services offered at, the world's largest Open Source software
  development web site, to store source code and documentation,
  track issues, and manage the project. The direct URL for the
  project is at,


  EVM project proponents hope that this successful demonstration
  project will lead to a very large well-funded academic study
  that will capitalize on other efforts to bring about a modern,
  reliable, affordable, and fully auditable voting system. While
  designed to be certified in the United States first, it will be
  built from the ground up as an international voting machine.

More background information can be found here:


  The target for completion of the demonstration project is
  mid-October. If successful and fully funded, certified
  ready-to-use software could be available in about a year.


  Alan Dechert
  4700 Allegretto Way
  Granite Bay, CA  95746
= The content of this message, with the exception of any external 
= quotations under fair use, are released to the Public Domain    
Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:02 2003

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