Re: Prerendering of GUI for voting machines

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Dec 03 2007 - 13:49:30 CST


> This combination of messages confirms that Fred suggested that the
> demo use a single pre-rendered ballot. ...

> Until then, the discussion
> seems to assume that the screen image of the ballot was dynamically
> created based on a ballot definition file. ...
More than "seems to." We were definitely working in that direction. See
Anand's post here:

Turns out, Anand was having trouble with wxpython and this approach started
to look unworkable. Fred had the right idea at the right time.

> An early explicit example
> of that thinking can be found here:
Yes. I note that I talked about "pixel for pixel control" after reading
about Pygame -- which is what we ended up using and what Ping used for his


It's fun to read some of this old stuff. I have a few comments on the email
below. I wanted to use evacs but found it really wasn't open source. The
code they had published wasn't usable -- it was purposely crippled so that
no one could do what we were trying to do. That kid that started the project found out the same thing a year or two later.

The smash the DRE idea sideshow was there back then. We put on a different
side show at our APR 1 demo -- it wasn't that well executed, but it all
worked out fine. Jim March got on the local televsion news saying he
thought voting systems should use open source software.

Our demo did "get some publicity -- including television." It was much
better to smash an actual DRE and that was successful too as a standalone
side show, even though that part only came several years later.

Isis-Technology backed out of the project, and maybe that was wise for them.
We were asking them to make some investment in OVC and they were afraid it
would take a long time to recoup their investment. Of course, maybe that
prophecy was a bit self-fulfilling.

I now think the idea of commodity PCs in every voting booth is too tough to
sell. If we're going to see a computerized voting machine (touch screen
electronic ballot printer) in every voting booth, it's likely to be an
election-dedicated hardware design. Commodity hardware might be okay for a
precinct based optical scan system (like OVS proposes).
> From: "Alan Dechert" <adechert at>
> To: "Jay" <jay at>
> Cc: "Arthur Keller" <arthur at>
> Subject: Fw: Better voting machines
> Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2003 10:28:42 -0700
> Greetings Jay!
> I have a request, and a possible opportunity for you. Would you consider
> donating a few systems (3 or 4) for a demo?
> Professor Keller wants to put some students on the project right away.
> For
> our demo, we plan to replicate what the Australians have done here:
> Then we'll modify it to include a printer.
> Once we have the demo put together, we'll have a press conference. The
> jist
> of the press conference will be something like this: Santa Clara County
> just signed a $20 million contract to purchase touch screen paperless
> voting
> machines (around $4,000 ea. ~ 3,100 + 900 for warranty and maintenance).
> Here's a system they can get for a fraction of the price -- and it's
> better!
> It includes a voter-verified paper trail. World renowned Stanford
> computer
> scientist Professor Dill will be there touting the voter-verified paper
> trail that he has been advocating. For dramatic effect (have to think
> about
> this) maybe we'll have a paperless touch screen system there (probably a
> mock up made from a broken lap top PC) that we'll smash with a hammer.
> Anyway, this should get some publicity -- including television.
> I could probably find a PC remarketer in Silicon Valley to donate the
> equipment but I thought you might want to participate. Somewhere in the
> press release we'd note who donated the equipment. It might be good to
> have
> the participation of Isis-Technology noted from the beginning.
> Here's what we would want to have:
> 3 or 4 (industrial grade) working PCs (350 MHz or better) including 17in
> monitor. At least 2 of them must have CD burners (the other 1 or 2 should
> have CD ROMS anyway). No software is needed. Modems are not required but
> 1
> or 2 modems would be fine. In other words, we don't really care about the
> modems but if they already have them then don't bother to remove them --
> we
> might be able to use the modems. They should have 1.4 floppy and a hard
> drive (any size HD). NICs would be a plus. Please include keyboards and
> mice. Please also include 2 laser printers -- HP 5L or equivalent
> (something that could be had on eBay for $45 or less).
> If you have a good looking but non-functioning lap top computer that you
> want to throw in (for our smash-it publicity stunt), that would be great.
> Let me know asap.
> Alan Dechert 916-791-0456
Yeah, let me know, asap.

Alan D.

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Received on Mon Dec 31 23:17:03 2007

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