More on democracy and transparency

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Fri Aug 15 2003 - 12:12:50 CDT

There is a thing raised by both Alan and Doug that alarms me greatly.

"Alan Dechert" <adechert@earthlink.net> wrote:
|If the production software is developed under a core grant (or grants)
|to the University of California, it's likely that the license agreement
|(where the client is a county government) will be written by UC Lawyers.

Put simply: I do not trust the University of California enough for this.
Nor should anyone else. Nor, for example, do I trust Alan, or Doug, or
Arnie, or myself this much. The importance of democratic voting is far
too high to let it rest on the "good intentions" of a particular person
or organization.

Specifically, in the UC case, it is quite possible (with lots of
historical precedent) that if UC develops something that starts getting
used by counties/states, they will decide to "commercialize" the code.
Concretely, that tends to mean that the UC chancellor enters an
agreement with a private company to sell EVMs, and the original PI gets
a bit of a kickback for directing the code development. It also means
that the code magically becomes proprietary (since it belonged
exclusively to UC beforehand).

I don't want to work on a project just so that a UC professor can make
some money, and a *different* private company can make money selling
EVMs than the ones that do now. Rather, I want for elections procedures
to become -transparent- to voters (the paper ballots aid this goal very
importantly, of course).

In the case of EVMs, this doesn't mean that all voters WILL understand
the software and hardware involved. It means that ALL voters will have
the RIGHT to examine that source code (and to publically object to it...
INCLUDING forking the project into code they believe is better). Such
disclosure should include the exact source code used in a specific
election, any public keys (or disclosed private keys) used in
verification of transmissions (either of source code, ballot data, or
results), and documentation of the procedures by which all this is done.

Close source is an anathema to democracy!

Yours, David...
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:09 2003

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