Re: A Proposal for an Open Source Project

From: Joseph Lorenzo Hall <joehall_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Wed Aug 11 2004 - 21:51:42 CDT

Here's an idea that a law professor friend of mine had to increase
voter turn out... every 100th voter gets $100! Mix the lottery in
with voting... and before anyone says, "Aw jeez, now you'll have
people voting that don't care at all!" But think about it... you can
only vote once, so it's not like the lottery... and we can inundate
the voters with ballot information beforehand.

It's better than fining anyone who doesn't vote (as the do in Australia).



On Wed, 11 Aug 2004 21:45:51 -0400, Ken Pugh <> wrote:
> 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:, 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
> (, not to the group to avoid a lot of off-topic
> posts.
> Ken

Joseph Lorenzo Hall
UC Berkeley, SIMS PhD Student
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:08 2004

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