Re: Bowen opposes legislative proposal

From: Brian Behlendorf <brian_at_behlendorf_dot_com>
Date: Tue Jan 27 2009 - 18:42:32 CST

Sorry if this is covering older ground, but maybe there's a way to address
the Sec's concerns.

Is the Sec of State empowered to waive a *federal* certification
requirement? Even if she is, wouldn't that entail a significant amount of
fighting with the Federal elections officials to garner support?
Is it bad form to be seen as arguing against the need for testing simply
because the software is licensed as Open Source?

Would a better approach be to advocate for reimbursement of certification
fees if the software achieves certification and its code is licensed
open-source? Perhaps add to it some process by which potential applicants
can be highly confident that their system will get certified, to further
reduce the risk?

Or were there objections other than the waiver of certification
requirement?

         Brian

On Tue, 27 Jan 2009, Alan Dechert wrote:
> I received a call from Ronda Paschal informing me that the Secretary of State
> is opposed to our legislative proposal. Needless to say, I am extremely
> disappointed.
>
> The reasons were similar to those given two years ago when I had something
> like this included in AB 852. At that time, I chalked it up to too much too
> soon. She had not been in office for more than a couple of weeks, and had
> already committed to doing the top-to-bottom review.
>
> I did not bother to submit anything to the CA legislature last year because
> that was the secretary's first federal election cycle -- an important
> presidential year -- and I figured she would not be very interested in making
> any big changes to the election code.
>
> But now, those are behind us. The top-to-bottom review would seem to support
> the idea of our bill.... that is, the systems that got through the federal
> certification process were still bad. So, why not try our own process for
> CA?
>
> Even if we accept that the secretary prefers to see the federal certification
> process improved, this legislative proposal would not hurt that goal one bit.
> It would probably help the feds see some new things about how open source and
> open test makes all sorts of new testing possible and cost effective --
> engaging the open source community all over the world.
>
> So, I just don't get it. It's not a matter of specific wording she did not
> like. I had sent over version 5:
> http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/January.2009/0020.html
> She was opposed to the basic ideas behind the bill.
>
> I pointed out to Ms. Paschal that,
>
> - current vendors had little incentive to go open source.
> - in the current budgetary crisis neither the state nor fed gov is likely to
> fund development of open source
> - private foundations and wealthy individuals have told me over and over that
> they're reluctant to fund something they see as basically a responsibility of
> government. If government isn't doing it, it must be because they don't want
> it and, therefore, their private dollars are likely to go to waste anyway.
>
> Since Bowen says she wants to see a public voting system instead of having
> proprietary private systems, how are we going to achieve that? Ms. Paschal
> had no idea about that.
>
> None of the arguments I made mattered at all. She was just calling be to
> inform me.
>
> Unless we can get Bowen to change her mind in the next few days, I won't
> bother to ask any legislator to carry it. It will be DOA. The deadline is
> Friday for submitting text to leg counsel.
>
> Alan D.
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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:54 2010

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