Re: Money, democracy, and transparency

From: Anand Pillai <abpillai_at_nospammail_dot_net>
Date: Sun Aug 17 2003 - 00:18:40 CDT

Hi Alan

        Thanks for the reply. I think that you have misunderstoold my
again for this project. It doesnt matter a dime to me whether my face
in front of Newyork TImes or not. I dont care for that kind of publicity.

   The actual motivation behind any engineer who volunteers for
projects is rightly summed up by great hacker Eric S Raymond. It is the
"personal itch",
the ingrained hacker ethos, the urge to get acceptance among peers, the
gained (I mean only the computer knowledge, not the various other kinds
of wordly
knowledge that I am getting out of this exposure), and the whole process
of getting
your creativity converted into an actual product that drives them. I am
of course
not using his words, but this is the general idea he has summed up in the
read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". I suggest this book to you in case
have not read it.

  For me it only matters that my peers, i.e my friends, my college mates
  and similar
guys doing hacking as a means for living or as a means to knowledge, get
to know
about my involvement in this project. I dont care and actually dont want
my name to
be mentioned otherwise in any sort of public documents about this
project. Hacking
does not mean cracking, in this context it means pure software
engineering, dont mistake

  Essentially this is going to be a perennial thorn between people like
  me and you, since
from what I understand, you stand to gain a lot in terms of recovering
money you have
spent in this project, or the acceptance it brings to you in seeing it
become commercially
viable etc, many concerns that I have no interest in understanding or
getting involved in.
I have nothing against you attempting to recover the expenditure you were
incurred, by
an eventual commercialization of this product since it sounds only human.
Again you mistake
me there also, since I dont care who are involved in the final
commercialization project
based on the original demo. I require no such guarantees from you,
neither might I be interested
in doing it, since it goes against my work ethics to work for money while
I am already employed
by somebody else.

I just need one gurantee, that which David Mertz initiated in the first
mail about licensing
, that is to use an existing OSI approved license for this project, or to
create a new one
which supports the OSI philosophy and apply it to this project. I also
want a free hand
in running this developer's ship without any extra interference from
commercially interested
parties, till the throw away demo is complete. This applies to things
like developer discussions,
chats, mails and protocols related to it. We, the developers create these
protocols and
manage the whole process among ourselves. We shall notify you whenever it
is appropriate
to do so based on the trust placed on the volunteering engineers in a
project as this.
I dont work for money so dont expect me to be the regular employee who
reports regularly
about meetings and discussions and other things that are a requirement
for any web based
project. I am not going to do it. If I had done it out of goodwill
sometime back in the beginning
of this project, I dont have it now since the goals of the project goes
against the spirit of
this goodwill, so I want to make this very clear.

Also the deadline for mid October is unrealistic. We want a larger
timeframe to have any decent
working demo. I suggest sometime Novemeber end or mid December. This
would help us
developers to respect our own projects and work and still find time to do
"Opensource" for
this project.

If all these demands are agreed to, I re-volunteer for evm2003.
Otherwise, it is adios and
all the best from me to everybody involved in this project. I am sure you
can always find
willing volunteers from the large opensource community, better skilled
than me for your
lead developer position.

Just my 2 cents, mostly the departing one.


Anand PIllai


On Sat, 16 Aug 2003 16:16:16 -0700, "Alan Dechert"
<> said:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Anand Pillai" <>
> To: "voting project" <>
> Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2003 12:37 PM
> Subject: Re: [voting-project] Money, democracy, and transparency
> > I am certainly not involved in this project for any money, because at
> > this stage I would like more experience and interaction with some of the
> > top
> > experts in programming concepts and security like Dr. David Mertz.
> > I am solely involved in this project for that purpose. Any name it brings
> > to me if I do a good work, or any money if there is some at the end, is
> > of a very distant concern to me.
> >
> It's just as well that these concerns get aired now.
> > I also joined this project because ....
> >
> We're glad you did, BTW.
> > .... it was announced in group
> > as an opensource project. ....
> >
> Yes, that is correct.
> > Now according to my belief, an opensource project is
> > one which uses a license approved by the OSI and nothing else. ...
> >
> Then you have a mistaken belief. The OSI definition is one of many
> definitions of "Open Source." I'm no expert on all the possible
> variations,
> but it's really an emerging concept as far as I can tell.
> The most significant aspect of "open source" in relation to voting
> software
> is that the code is open for inspection and testing by anyone that wants
> to
> look at it and try finding problems. Also, having it all out in the open
> makes it possible to discuss best practices and standards for voting
> system
> software.
> > It seemed natural that this project will adopt some kind of opensource
> > license along the way when I initially agreed to take up lead developer
> role
> > and contribute to this project, both in my time as well as my efforts.
> >
> Yes. And thanks again, Anand, for taking on this role.
> > After reading through all the 30 or so mails on the discussions about
> > this topic, I have some strong concerns. I spend upto 3-4 hours a day
> > on this project, apart from managing my regular career in the office
> > and my personal affairs.
> >
> I appreciate your dedication. I think you are spending as much or more
> time
> on it than anyone -- except me. I think David is spending quite a bit of
> time on it too.
> I hope no one spends so much time on it that it negatively impacts their
> ability to earn a living. I can't say that about me, however. The
> project
> began as a sidelight but has taken over my life. I've gone from being
> fairly healthy financially in 2000, to being about one step away from
> homelessness.
> > If at the end of this day all of my work is (apparently) going
> > towards making money for person or a group of persons I have
> > not even met, I have strong reservations about continuing in this
> > project.
> >
> I can understand that. And if you have to quit, there will be no hard
> feelings from me. Maybe I didn't spell this all out adequately.
> However,
> maybe you didn't read enough. I think the project has been accurately
> characterized. The whole project -- EVM, and later, the UCVS and the
> Open
> Voting Consortium (OVC) is enormous in scope. You are new to the project
> and are not expected to have all the relevant documents read and
> memorized.
> There is a lot of material here:
> The original project proposal (UCB study for California) is here:
> I was scheduled to be paid, yes. The project was recommended for funding
> by
> some pretty prominent people in the State Senate. It did not happen for
> two
> basic reasons: 1) the budget crisis (at that time it was mainly the
> energy
> crisis drain on state money), and 2) the fact that some prominent
> politicians were sold on the idea of paperless touchsceen systems for all
> the voting booths.
> You have taken on the role of Lead Developer for EVM.
> > Who knows whether the University of California or whoever,
> > if they take over will even keep my name in the source code?
> >
> I don't know either. But, again, at this point your role only has to do
> with EVM. Nobody knows who will do what after that. It's unlikely that
> source code will wind up in the finished production system. I expect EVM
> to
> roll into the requirements and specifications for the production system
> (UCVS). The demo could be a flop in which case it's all a moot issue. I
> am
> dedicated to making the demo a success. If the demo is a success and we
> wind up getting some serious funding to develop the production system, it
> will open up all sorts of possibilities.
> > I may not even get the narrowest visibility an opensource
> > developer expects, that is having his name in the source
> > code files (in the comments/headers) because perhaps the
> > people who take over the code might decide to remove it. (who
> > knows?)
> >
> You have taken on the role of Lead Developer for EVM. If you see the
> project through, you will have quite a bit of control over what's in the
> source code. Your contributions will be acknowledged far and wide. You
> are
> recognized as Lead Developer in the annoucement I sent out. You will be
> acknowledged in other publicity about the project. What more do you
> want?
> If you want your picture in the New York Times, I'll try to get it in
> there.
> I am happy to keep a low profile and let others take all the credit.
> However, I do want to get paid eventually because this is taking ALL of
> my
> time.
> > The people who commercialize the code might decide to "throw away"
> > the original code, but still borrow its concepts. Since an opensource
> > kind of license (OSL, LGPL, GLP, BSD etc) is not enforced, this will
> > be a pretty easy task since AFAIK only the OSI approved licenses
> > enforce any kind of control over derived source code or derived licenses
> > based on the original work. A commercial license does not do that
> > since the licensing terms based on the actual source code is not really
> > relevant in a commercial setup, as it is based on the binaries or the
> > bytecodes.
> >
> The people you are working with on EVM take this sort of thing very
> seriously. I don't think you should worry about not receiving proper
> attribution for your efforts. Arthur Keller has served as an expert
> witness
> in a number of cases involving copyright infringement etc. I believe he
> is
> involved in two such cases right now.
> > It is surprising that this project apparently looked on the way to
> > adopting a proper opensource development methodology, but now is
> > talking in terms of intellectual property to a person or a group of
> persons. ...
> >
> David pointed out (and I tend to believe him) that my claim of
> "intellectual
> property" may not have a firm legal basis. I don't really know and I am
> not
> really concerned either. EVM-UCVS-OVC is my idea and I've fought long
> and
> hard to gain acceptance for the idea. I note others have said that the
> idea
> is "obviously correct" and that voting technology experts will see the
> light
> if they haven't already. However, I recently got an email from MIT
> Professor Ted Selker where he argues against several key features of our
> proposed system.
> BTW, I should try to use "our idea" as much as possible as opposed to "my
> idea." Even though anyone looking at this project from the outside
> wondering "who's behind it?" would conclude that Alan Dechert's the one
> spearheading the project, the fact is that many others have contributed
> to
> the idea. I need to be careful about acknowledging this fact.
> The list of contributors is very long and someday I will try to write it
> all
> down. Some of the early contributors that come to mind include Larry
> Sokol
> of Speaker Hertzberg's office (CA State Assembly). Chris Reynolds of the
> CA
> Secretary of State's office also spent a lot of time with me in the early
> months (Dec 00 - Feb 01). I had a long detailed and sometimes tedious
> discussion with Peter Neumann that began Dec 12 00 and went on for some
> weeks (I met him in person 17 Jan 01). David Jefferson also gave some
> good
> feedback in Jan 01.
> Jill Levine of the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters office arranged
> the
> first meeting I had with elections staff people (see bottom of my web
> page
> for handout given at that meeting). Carnegie President Vartan Gregorian
> wrote a nice letter after I shared the materials with him.
> I started talking with Roy Saltman in March of 01 and this dialog has
> continued to the present. I had lunch with him in San Franciso on June
> 2nd
> of this year. Elections Chief for San Mateo county, Warren Slocum,
> became
> an advocate for me after our meeting in March. I met with the Elections
> Chief (ROV) for Alameda county, Bradley Clark, on the same day. Also in
> March, I got a boost when Mike Antonovich, Mayor of Los Angeles County,
> wrote a letter asking the ROV to investigate the feasibility of my
> scheme.
> Chris Lehman of Senator Perata's office was my first real advocate in the
> state government. He introduced me to Sandi Polka of Senator Burton's
> office. Senator Dede Alpert was the first legislator to do anything to
> advance the idea (she handed my materials to the consultant for the
> Senate
> Elections Committee and told him to consider the idea). Don Perata wrote
> a
> couple of letters on our behalf.
> Sandi Polka introduced me to Bruce Cain of UC Berkeley's Institute of
> Governmental Studies (IGS ). Karin McDonald
> of
> IGS warned me that UCB administration would have a hard time with the
> idea
> of free software. Bruce introduced me to Henry Brady (UCB's resident
> expert
> on voting technology) in April 01.
> Henry E. Brady, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy
> Director,
> Survey Research Center and UC DATA, worked with me greatly in 2001. He
> was
> my co-author for the California proposal and we attended countless
> meetings -- defending and promoting the proposal -- with University and
> government officials. Henry introduced me to former congressman Leon
> Panetta (and former Clinton Chief of Staff) who help behind the scenes
> arranging a couple of meetings. Recently, one of Henry's former students
> (when Henry taught at Harvard), MIT Professor Stephen Ansolabehere has
> given
> valuable input.
> Chancellor Berdahl of UC Berkeley pushed the project along with
> encouragement and a letter or two here and there.
> Mark Hayes, University Relations, Microsoft Research, pushed the idea
> around
> Microsoft (first half of 2002 and a little bit in 2003).
> The project was reborn in 2003 with the help of David Dill. David
> introduced me to quite a few people, including the Australians involved
> in
> the open source (GNU GPL) PC based voting system they developed there.
> Ed
> Cherlin (Dill referral) was the first to suggest Python for the demo.
> Dennis Paull (Dill referral) introduced me to several more people and
> invited me to participate in the recent panel discussion on Electronic
> Voting (where I met a bunch of people). Arthur Keller (Dill referral)
> introduced me to Adrianne Yu Wang.
> I met with Mohan Paturi, chair of the UC San Diego CSE department, on
> April
> 25 of this year. I started a long dialog and partnership with Doug Jones
> shortly after meeting Paturi.
> After we got the kernel of the demo project formed (thanks to Arthur
> Keller!), lots of others, including David Mertz and Anand, joined in.
> > Let me ask then what the poor developer who did the *throw away*
> > demo gets? A word of mention maybe? 100 or so mails in this list?
> > Or some kind of "thanks a lot for your work and your motivation"
> > mail?
> >
> I don't know what you will get out of it. If you get nothing of material
> benefit, then you will get more material benefit than I have received so
> far. What do you want out of it?
> If the project is successful, there will be plenty of recognition and
> benefits to go around, I believe. You are in a key position and so the
> recognition and benefits would probably be greater than people playing
> more
> peripheral roles. I can see all sorts of possibilities for paying work
> to
> come out of a successful project. Do I need to spell them all out?
> Besides
> the possibility of getting paid directly for working on the production
> system (I don't think anyone will get any pay for working on the demo),
> there is the possibility of future work having to do with technical
> support,
> maintenance, training, etc. with the finished product.
> If the project is successful, you will join a very long list of
> contributors. None of these contributors so far has made an issue out of
> what they will get out of it -- except maybe me. The only reason I have
> made some issue out of it is that the project is taking all of my time
> and
> energy and I have a wife and two children to support. As Doug Jones and
> Arthur Keller have acknowledged, it's reasonable for someone playing my
> role
> to receive compensation. As the project grows and develops, I will
> likely
> be the first person to get some compensation (as project developer with
> 2,000 hrs invested, seems reasonable, no?). Others will likely get some
> compensation as funding sources develop. If it gets funding as a
> university
> project, the vast majority of hours and money will likely go to student
> researchers. There will be some money available for consultants and
> project
> administrators.
> > If I am working in an opensource project for making someone else
> > rich, then I might as well devote that time doing a closed source
> > project of myself, which might one day benefit me financially. I dont
> > care about my mails being archived in this list for the future, since
> > I am involved in many other opensource community projects apart
> > from this. They are actually truly opensource by the way. I might not
> > have said this before, but in the light of the mails exchanged here,
> > I would like to stress that point.
> >
> I will also stress the point that the eventual finished product will
> entail
> commercial possibilities. I think it is unreasonable to demand that
> nobody
> can make money off of voting technology. My goal is to make this voting
> technology as cheap as possible. The current crop of electronic voting
> machines are rip-offs. They are unaffordable even for jurisdictions in
> the
> USA.
> The whole EVM-UCVS-OVC project carries the possibility of a very high
> quality, reliable, fully auditable, easy-to-use election administration
> --
> CHEAPLY! We can't make it totally free, but we can make it very cheap.
> There are costs associated with election administration and there is no
> way
> to totally eliminate them. BTW, MIT's Ansolabehere told me that voting
> equipment cost is running about 15% of the total cost of election
> administration in the USA. I think we can reduce that as a percentage
> but
> also reduce the entire cost of election administration -- all while
> making
> it much better.
> > I am at present involved in many community (especially python)
> > and personal projects most of which are truly opensource. Heck,
> > my python page albeit a small effort is listed in google under the
> > heading "Opensource software written in python". All my
> > freshmeat projects are under OSI approved licenses and their
> > sourcecode is available for download. I have listed EVM 2003
> > also in my homepage thinking that it was a true opensource
> > approach at promoting ransparency and security of election
> > processes, whose code would be written in python, a language
> > I love to program in. Exactly the same reasons David has mentioned.
> >
> Okay.
> > It would have been a gentleman's decision to let us developers know
> > beforehand that the project was aimed at developing a commercial
> > solution managed by a select coterie one day right during the
> > announcement of this project in That would have given at least
> > a person like me who belives firmly in the opensource philosophy
> > sometime to ponder over before actually joining this project.
> >
> Perhaps you joined without reading enough material about the project.
> Nothing was hidden from you or anyone else. The project is evolving. I
> might add that the Open Voting Consortium will be designed to be the
> vehicle
> by which the voting system can be delivered to election officials. There
> are many issues to consider regarding how the PCs get to the voting
> booths.
> It will be nice if we produce great software for all aspects of election
> administration, but it also has to be established how the software will
> be
> used.
> > I am not sure of continuing my contribution to this project in any
> > capacity before this issue is not sorted out. And in the way I see
> > it there might be only one way to sort it out, that is by announcing
> > an OSI approved license for this project in its sourceforge page.
> >
> I don't know. I thought David was recommending Public Domain.
> > I want to inform everybody else in this project that I am suspending
> > my time and effort devoted for this project till then. ....
> >
> Okay. Please let me know soon if you want to continue.
> Don't worry that the project might die if you leave. It has died 20
> times
> already. If it dies again, I will bring it to life again -- perhaps with
> more wisdom than before.
> I'm sorry for any misunderstanding about your role. To clarify, you were
> chosen for the Development Lead for EVM. This is designed to develop
> demo
> software. You may or may not have a role in the development of the
> production system. That would probably be your choice and would depend
> on
> the success of EVM. If the production system is developed through UC,
> you
> cannot be the Lead Developer. This have nothing to do with your skills.
> The only way we can get grants through the University is to have academic
> engineers listed in the proposal.
> > I am also a busy person in my own little way and has my
> > own ideas and projects, where I can devote a better time in terms of
> > trusting trust, adherence to ideals and the spirit of opensource.
> >
> Right. But you can't expect no one to make money on the finished
> product.
> People make money on Linux. People find ways to make money on all sorts
> of
> "free" products.
> Alan

  Anand Pillai
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:10 2003

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