Fwd: [BDPA-Software] Voting technology on verge of expansion

From: Edward Cherlin <edward_dot_cherlin_at_etssg_dot_com>
Date: Sat Dec 20 2003 - 23:29:47 CST

>From the Black Data Processing Association mailing list. I'm
pointing them to the Open Voting Consortium.

---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Voting technology on verge of expansion


WASHINGTON Nashville businessman Athan Gibbs says he was more
 interested in serving democracy than making money when he began
 creating a system to address the 2000 Florida presidential vote

Today, about 36 months and $2 million later, Gibbs is
 positioning his company, TruVote International Inc., to take
 advantage of a second wave of election reform stemming from
 problems in Florida that delayed the result of the presidential
 election for 35 days. The push could produce a financial boon
 for his startup company.

''Really, the sky's the limit,'' said Rep. Jim Cooper,
 D-Nashville, a co-sponsor of legislation that seeks greater
 accountability in voting systems. ''It could be one of the
 greatest American dream stories ever told. If his technology
 hits, it's going to hit big.''

Gibbs, 57, is the inventor of TruVote Voter Validation and
 Verification System, which includes a computerized touch-screen
 voting machine that provides voters with a receipt. Using an
 identification number on the receipt, voters can verify later
 by computer or touch-tone telephone that their vote was

A Memphis native, Gibbs said that as a black voter with an
 auditing background, he was compelled to act after the 2000
 Florida vote, in which scores of blacks and other minorities
 complained that they were disenfranchised.

Gibbs said he voted for Al Gore and was upset that he had to
 endure more than a month of turmoil before finding out who won
 the presidency, ultimately decided by the Supreme Court in
 favor of George W. Bush.

''After seeing this for 35 days, I said, 'Look, there's got to
 be a better way,' '' Gibbs said. ''I set out to develop a
 system that would allow us to instantly determine who was
 elected president.''

State, federal demands

Gibbs has demonstrated his Microsoft-backed system all over the
 country, including Lakeland, Tenn. The system has been tested
 and certified by the National Association of State Election
 Directors and approved for sale in Mississippi, Gibbs said.
 TruVote also has gained certification in Arkansas and Ohio, he
 said. He recently showed off his system to California election
 officials and the Florida Democratic Party's black caucus.

''My objective simply was to write an audit program and pass it
 on,'' said Gibbs, an accountant and auditor for more than 30
 years. ''But I started investing money and it grew and grew.''

Gibbs' investment could reap huge dividends as a growing list of
 state and federal officials want to beef up election reform
 measures spelled out in a 2002 law that was a response to the
 Florida fiasco. The law provided millions of dollars to states
 to replace outdated election systems such as the chad-producing
 punch-card machines that were used in Florida. Many states
 began purchasing electronic vote machines.

But lawmakers and some state election officials complain that
 electronic voting doesn't provide a paper trail.

And a study this summer concluded that electronic voting
 machines were susceptible to security breaks and fraud.

That study led officials in Maryland and Ohio to postpone the
 purchase of millions of dollars worth of electronic voting
 equipment. In California, the secretary of state has ordered
 that, as of July 2005, all new electronic voting machines must
 be capable of providing paper records.

At the federal level, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., has introduced a
 bill that would require all electronic voting machines to
 provide a paper trail. The measure is co-sponsored by Cooper
 and 94 other lawmakers.

Holt said he has talked to Gibbs about the TruVote system and
 believes it could provide the accountability his legislation
 seeks to achieve. ''He has an accountant's mind and has thought
 about this in a very smart way,'' Holt said. ''It would have to
 be modified slightly.''

Gibbs said TruVote's program would require little tinkering to
 address the concerns of Holt and others, adding that his system
 is flexible and could be integrated with electronic voting
 systems already in use.

Passionate solution

Former Rep. Bob Clement of Nashville recalled Gibbs' passion for
 fixing the voting process. He said Gibbs, who once worked for
 Clement as a financial analyst at the Tennessee Public Service
 Commission, has come up with a revolutionary system.

''I'll never forget how, after the last presidential race, he
 had this vision that we just have to do better in America to
 restore voter confidence,'' Clement said. ''A lot of people
 have ideas, but don't put them on paper. He's been truly

Gibbs said his system is built on an auditing model to eliminate
 the three key problems of the 2000 presidential election
 undervotes, overvotes and uncounted votes. He noted that one
 study found that as many as 2 million votes were not counted in
 the 2000 election.

Gibbs estimated that so far he has invested $550,000 of personal
 money and $1.6 million from a team of supporters. The project
 got a boost when Microsoft lent its support. And National Cash
 Register has agreed to manufacture the equipment and provide
 system integration.

''One of the very exciting aspects of TruVote is it was
 developed by an African-American male, and African-Americans
 were the most disenfranchised in the 2000 election,'' said
 Winston Smith, director of vendor diversity for Microsoft. ''So
 for him to have a solution that meets the goals of democracy in
 American society is just an amazing story.''

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Edward Cherlin, Simputer Evangelist
Encore Technologies (S) Pte. Ltd.
Computers for all of us
http://www.simputerland.com, http://cherlin.blogspot.com
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:16 2003

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