Re: Follow up on Open Source hearing

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sat Feb 11 2006 - 18:54:19 CST

> Alan, I don't appreciate your patronizing tone.
Complaint noted.

> You need to be more diplomatic if you're truly
> interested in getting things done.
Well, if you want to talk about insults ... this is pretty insulting. I
won't take this personally, though.

Joe, you are a grad student. I am president of OVC and next year, if Bowen
is elected, expect to have a major role in implementing open voting (a
stated Bowen goal). You will still be a grad student next year, as far as I
can tell. We come at this from very different perspectives.

Take another look at OVC's accomplishments and tell me again how I need to
show an interest in getting things done. The woman (Jennie Bretschneider of
Bowen's staff) that called you to invite you to participate in the hearing
is someone I first met with 5 years ago. Bowen was the first legislator in
Sacramento to take an interest in what I had to say. I've met or talked by
phone with Jennie many times over the years. I worked with her on forming
the panels.

The hearing was conducted at my request -- along with a great show of
support (75 people from our list writing letters, making phone calls, etc).
I had significant input on who should be invited to participate.

We have forged a strong partnership with Senator Bowen as well as others in
the Legislature. Assemblywoman Goldberg will be carrying our bill. We've
also forged partnerships with non-governmental groups such as Democracy for
America, Progressive Democrats of America, and others. OVC co-sponsored an
event a couple of weeks ago with the California Clean Money campaign. Their
bill, recently passed the Assembly and Bowen has made a strong point of
saying she welcomes the Clean Money bill in the Senate.

Have a look at the GAO report and the list of key non-governmental
organizations helping to bring about more secure and reliable voting. Maybe
it's a coincidence that OVC is at the top of the list? ACCURATE is on the
list too and we're happy for that, but ACCURATE is a relative new comer
compared to the work we've done. Peter Neumann's efforts along these lines
certainly pre-date my work but very few people can legitimately claim to
have done more than me to push forward the idea of complete voting system

In short, you have no standing to pretend that I may not be interested in
getting things done.

Besides Peter Neumann, David Jefferson and Kim Alexander deserve quite a bit
of credit. Beginning around 2003, David Dill has made a significant
contribution with the VVPAT but hasn't really pushed for open source. Doug
Jones, of course, was a co-founder of OVC and a big reason for OVC's
accomplishments. I expect Arthur Keller, the other OVC co-founder, to have
a big year in 2006 helping to move it all forward.

> What the OVC is doing is important, and should move forward. If you
> listened carefully, we offered a number of barriers that groups like
> the OVC face and some ideas about how they could be overcome.
I listened to that. I mentioned that in my testimony -- which you couldn't
stick around to hear.

I know more about barriers to open voting implementation than anyone on
planet earth. This is because I have been hammering away at those barriers
for more than 5 years. I am the authority on that -- not you.

OVC has made significant progress in this area under my leadership. When
you tell me not only what the barriers are but how YOU will help bring them
down, I will be much more receptive to your rap. Fact is, you are paid to
do academic work. You do not have a vested interest in bringing barriers
down. Big difference.
> (Calling me a shill is insulting. You know very well that I'm working
> towards many of the same goals that you are. ....
I didn't actually call you a shill. I said you SOUNDED LIKE a shill or
vendor shill when you made that comment to Bowen ;-)
> What Bowen said is that she didn't want to have to trust a panel
> of experts. Neither do I and neither do you. But having an
> independent panel of experts review code and issue a public
> report is right now in the power of the secretary of state ....
I see....

> and will
> decidely increase the level of transparency in our elections
> systems in California.
It sets up another informal bureaucracy and pseudo-certification process.
There is a large body of unadressed issues that come with that (what if
academics say it's okay but it's not?) All sorts of liability issues. You
and the code reviewers have not really thought this through.

> This is
> something we can do now. For sure, the average voter cannot do
> anything with source code, but they should be able to either learn
> enough to do something and get access or they should be able to have
> someone they trust do something.
The spirit of this is just plain wrong. The analogy we often give about
legal code works for me. Most people don't make use of the legal code
available to them on line. But it's very important that it's available to
anyone. Cool thing is that the legislator (Debra Bowen, AB 1624) that made
the legal code available on line is the same person that's going to make the
computer code available on line for voting systems.

>> In my testimony, I quoted Shamos from SoS McPherson's report: "all voting
>> system software should be disclosed to the public."
> And that's fine... I disagree right now, I don't think that's a good
> idea...
> Alan, if you want to alienate the world because their ideas are not
> perfectly in-line with yours, that's something you can choose to do.
OVC has to work with people that are willing to work with us on this. If
people choose to not work with us, then so be it. ACCURATE is a bit mixed.
Some researchers have shown more willingness than others to work with me and
OVC. We have some specific goals this year and don't have time to worry
about people that tell us our efforts are "ill-advised" (YOUR WORDS).

> If you want to work towards increasing transparency in voting systems,
> especially by producing an open source voting solution and
> understanding what barriers you face to get this to a point where a
> jurisdiction could and would procure it, you're going to have to take
> measured, strategic steps.
Right. I've been doing that for 5 years. You haven't. You're made some
nice contributions in recent years, but you are not quite in a position to
claim to lead the movement toward open voting.

Joe, you don't understand how change happens. You don't understand how
barriers come down (not a pretty process, lots of times). You don't seem to
understand the role of our bill in this process. It may or may not pass,
but in the process of putting it out there and promoting it, the Legislature
will come that much closer to understanding what needs to be done.

Alan D.

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Received on Tue Feb 28 23:17:05 2006

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