Re: Fw: ACR 242

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Mon Aug 09 2004 - 00:50:55 CDT

"Alan Dechert" <> wrote:
|Please join us in urging the CA Senate to pass ACR 242.

FWIW, the following is the letter I faxed to Senator Don Perata. A lot
of it is specific to my status/motives in supporting it... but if anyone
wants to borrow concepts, go for it. Good procedure is to make your
letter not look *too* much like mine, so we don't seem like we're

Senator Don Perata July 31, 2004
Chair Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee
Fax: 916-445-2496

Dear Senator Perata,

I have followed ACR 242 on the use of open source code in voting systems
with considerable interest, including its passage in July withing the
California Assembly. Although I am not (currently) a California
resident, I have found that California--along with my home state of
Massachusetts--has been a pioneer in promotion of openness in technology
and standards used in governance. I believe that ACR 242, as well as
Secretary of State Shelley's ongoing efforts to ensure transparency in
voting systems, will both improve the fairness of elections in
California, and enable interstate cooperation in assurance of election

In particular, I have spoken, in Massachusetts, with Linda M. Hamel,
General Counsel of the Commonwealth's Information Technology Division,
and is Massachusetts' liaison to the Government Open Code Collaborative
Repository. She is enthusiastic, with the support of Governor Mitt
Romney, about extending Massachusetts' existing interstate cooperation
in the creation of software for governance, to cover voting software.
While Massachusetts has not itself yet adopted an analogue of ACR 242, I
believe there is interest in the state in cooperation on open source
voting systems. In large measure, the issue has simply not been as
urgent in Massachusetts, since we use traditional hand-marked paper
ballots here. But HAVA-mandated disabled accessibility will presumably
eventually bring Massachusetts toward the use of (hopefully Free
Software) electronic voting machines.

I am myself a prominent writer on many programming technologies, as well
as a researcher into areas of security, cryptography, data formats and
structures, and a variety of related computer science topics. From my
experience, I am thoroughly convinced that the only possible way to
fully insure fairness in elections is to introduce transparency to the
software that runs them. Not only does widespread inspection ferret out
programming errors and malicious tampering, availability of source code
for voter inspections represents the same democratic principle that
promotes open records laws. Citizens should be granted their rights to
examine the technological means of governance, just as much as they are
its procedures.

Yours Sincerely,
David Mertz
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:06 2004

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