Can I suggest a re-think?

From: Jim March <1_dot_jim_dot_march_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Thu Jan 29 2009 - 00:15:32 CST

Folks,

With Bowen refusing to support open source systems without the full
Federal cert dog'n'pony show, OVC isn't going to be able to push a
"total solution" voting system in California.

I don't think she's going to change positions on that. I suspect what
she's doing is a somewhat cowardly calculation: "if it goes wrong
somehow, and I supported less stringent oversight, the GOP or whoever
runs against me is going to scream bloody murder about me ditching the
Federal EAC/NIST/ITA stuff".

Politicians make decisions on this basis all the time. The
three-strikes laws and various "mandatory minimum" sentencing laws are
the result of politicians not wanting to be seen as "soft on crime"
despite how idiotic the resulting legislation is. Bowen's stance is
in the same category.

OK, so what now?

OVC has two remaining choices if Bowen doesn't budge:

1) Push for a test of a whole-voting-solution in a state that doesn't
mandate the Federal oversight process - Florida and Pennsylvania come
to mind, there's about 15 or so total. Problem is, it means far more
travel expenses to places where the political landscape is either
less-understood or outright hostile (such as Florida).

2) Change gears and come up with a FOSS-based system for doing
post-election scanning of paper ballots in the "Humboldt County"
style. That includes scanning, organizing, CD burning and possibly
even web-packaging (automated online layouts for the ballots). All
the parts are off-the-shelf in terms of hardware and software, such as
the SANE project for scanner drivers...we're not talking "application
development" so much as we are a pretty front end to existing code.
This would be a foot in the door for a well-packaged, easy-to-use FOSS
solution, and since it's not a tabulator or anything the voters
interface with it doesn't need certification at the Federal level.
Might even be able to get Canonical or Red Hat in as an OVC member,
which would be way cool.

I can tell you that Humboldt-style scanning will be a major push for
BBV this year, and the success of the Humboldt test project means this
will be an easy sell. I'll be pushing hard for this in Pima County AZ
and I think we'll get it here before the 2010 cycle.

Ponder this, guys. It would get a real functional product into the
field quickly, and boost our credibility for a push beyond that.
Hardware used for post-election ballot scanning now could be easily
recycled later into scanning and tabulating the mail-in vote when OVC
has a whole-election solution...so in terms of hardware buy-in,
Humboldt-style scanning leads into bigger things later.

Jim March
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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:56 2010

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