A Proposal for an Open Source Project

From: Ken Pugh <kpughmisc_at_pughkilleen_dot_com>
Date: Wed Aug 11 2004 - 20:45:51 CDT

The name of this group is "The Voting Project". I know that its primary
purpose is to create a voting program. So the following is off-topic from
its primary purpose, but somewhat related to the name. To avoid clogging
up the news group with responses, if you have a comment on the following
idea, please send it directly to me: kpughmisc@pughkilleen.com, not to the
mailing list.

When listening to a report on the low turnout of voters, I was once again
appalled at the low turnout of even those voters who are registered. One
can argue whether a low turnout benefits one party or the other. My
opinion is that a low turnout does not benefit democracy. If government's
power is drawn from the people, then it's the responsibility of the people
to determine its composition.

What I am proposing is an open source creation and execution project. The
project consists of a phone reminder system that could be used by hundreds,
if not thousands of people, to call up numbers within their local calling
area and give a reminder to register and to vote.

Here are the details:

Each system would be configured with a set of prefixes. The prefixes would
be either 3 digits or 6 digits, depending on the local dialing
requirements. When activated, the system would place calls to all 10,000
numbers in each prefix and give a non-partisan get out the vote
message. Calls would only be placed during reasonable hours (9 a.m. to 9
p.m.) Yes, this is computer dialing, which is illegal in many states for
commercial purposes. However, it may be legal in your state for
non-commercial purposes, into which category this message would clearly
fall. One desirable feature would be the ability to repeat the message
before hanging up if an answering machine beep was heard within a period of
time (say 30 seconds). Phone numbers that answered would not be called
again, until the system has been updated with a new message.

The system should work at least on Windows (98 through XP) and preferably
on Linux. The reason for the concentration on Windows machines is that a
large proportion of them have modems that can be used for dialing. The
system would be freely distributed for the purposes of encouraging
registration and voting.

A potential pre-registration deadline message might be "If you are not
registered to vote, please contact your local election board (give phone
number here) to find out where and how to register and then go
register. If you are registered, but did not vote in the last election,
contact your local election board (give phone number here) to insure that
your registration is still valid. If you are registered and voted in the
last election, we thank you for your commitment to democratic principles."

A pre-election message might be "The election is coming up on Tuesday,
November 9th. Please take the time to vote and support our American
democracy".

Yes, this system has the potential for abuse. License restrictions could
be placed on it to limit its usage. Abuse could be prosecuted with the
same local laws that prohibit computer dialing for commercial purposes.

I believe that this system could be developed rapidly. But if it were not
downloaded and executed, it would make little impact. I'm especially
interested in your comments or opinions on if and how the system might be
rapidly deployed. Again, please send any messages directly to me
(kpughmisc@pughkilleen.com), not to the group to avoid a lot of off-topic
posts.

Ken

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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:08 2004

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