Announcement Draft v.003

From: Alan Dechert <adechert_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Thu Aug 07 2003 - 16:51:48 CDT

I made a few edits and additions. Please have a look. If there are no more
comments, this will be sent out later today.

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Free Open Voting Machine? Silicon Valley Computer Scientists Team Up to
Demonstrate One

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.

High quality refurbished PC's that are only one generation 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 current open source software development 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.

Other volunteers include Dr. David Mertz of Massachusetts, a well-known
writer on computer programming issues, who 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.

Jay Tefertiller, Ben Strednak, and Steve Gardner of ISIS Technology
(Oklahoma City) are developing the non-proprietary hardware design, and
working on establishing a trade association, tentatively called the "Open
Voting Consortium," that will establish and maintain high standards for the
open voting hardware.

The EVM project is using the services offered at SourceForge.net, the
world's largest Open Source software development web site, to store source
code and documentation, track issues, and manage the project. Developers
want to demonstrate a voting system where all components are open for public
inspection and debate. Consistent with this idea, all aspects of the
development of the software are open to the public also. The direct URL for
the project is at,

http://sourceforge.net/projects/evm2003

The demonstration standalone voting machines will be set up at strategic
locations, for example, in the Silicon Valley area and Sacramento. A web
based version will also be available so that anyone with Internet access can
try out the look and feel of the system.

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, uniform, 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. The larger study will include not only the development of voting
machine software, but all software necessary for election administration,
and an Election Rules Database that will document all election rules in
effect in all jurisdictions in the United States.

More background information can be found here:

http://home.earthlink.net/~adechert

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.

Contact:
Alan Dechert
916-791-0456
4700 Allegretto Way
Granite Bay, CA 95746

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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:03 2003

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