Re: open source voting links...

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Sun Jul 18 2004 - 19:28:34 CDT

Nathan,

> Shutting down the ovc-demo-team is fine _if_ you have the production
> team ready to drop in its place at that exact time. ....
>
That isn't quite a choice I was talking about. I was talking about the
ovc-demo-team email list.

> Where is the that team?
>
The discussion has all migrated to the voting-project list.

> There are several of us willing and (hopefully) able to revive the
> evm2003 work and re-cast it as a production quality software project.
>
That's fine. Keep in mind that I also mentioned that we did not shut down
the ovc-demo-team email list. Mainly this was because David Mertz and Fred
McLain asked to keep it.

>
> [snip & paste]
> > Teresa Hommel brought this one to my attention yesterday:
> > http://www.uua.org/actions/civil-liberties/04electronic-voting.html
> > Here is a resolution (called "Action of Immediate Witness") of the
> > Unitarian Universalist Association. Note where it says, "open-source
> > software for voting systems is expected to be available by 2005." Where
do
> > you suppose that came from?
>
> Do you really expect to stop development work now, wait for funding
> an unknown period of time, and then miraculously develop a working
> system on a compressed schedule by 2005? ....
>
I don't understand why you say this. I never said we should stop
development work.

> It takes time to lay out architectures, milestones, get people
> organized, etc. Why not take that hit now?
>
We're working on that now. Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort.

> > The Demo phase has been all volunteer. The R&D phase cannot be all
> > volunteer. Funding is absolutely required. For example, it will cost
on
> > the order of $100,000 in fees to the ITA to get the software certified.
> > And this is just for ver 1.0 of a voting machine. In fact, I expect
that
> > over time we will be submitting many pieces of software for
certification.
> > The plan is to get one specific hardware/software set up certified for
use,
> > and then get more set ups certified as needed. We could conceivably
> > require hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for some years just to
> > pay ITA fees.
>
> Those are _certification_ fees, not development fees. I have yet to see
any
> valid claim as to why funding is absolutely needed for the development
work.
>
Feel free to characterize it however you want. I believe it will be an
iterative process. None of this is cut-and-dried, especially since our
system is new technology and not really covered in the voting system
guidelines. We will need to work with the ITA (and pay them $125/hr) before
we have a system really ready to submit. It's not like we have a lot of
choices in the matter either. There's Wyle, Ciber, and SysTest.

> > Also, it's clear that to meet deadlines, we need paid staff dedicated to
> > getting the job done.
>
> I'm not sure where to begin with that one; it's insulting.
>
I'm sorry. I believe I am just stating the obvious. It's not a reflection
on anyone's professionalism, dedication, etc. People have to put making a
living as a top priority--certainly above working on a volunteer software
development project. We went through 4 Dev Leads for the demo. Fred McLain
took on the Dev Lead around the first of Feb. Right now, Fred is focused on
making a living and has not participated in the discussions much for some
months now. Fred did a great job for the OVC. Right now, he has other
things to attend to.

We've had several instances where key pieces of the development effort were
dropped as developer after developer reported a need to attend to their
paying work. I don't knock anyone for having to attend to their personal
requirements. However, there is a window of opportunity as election
officials make decisions in the months in front of us. Delays are very
costly. If possible, we want key people to be paid staff so they don't
disappear because they have to take care of other business.

> > So, right now, we're at the boundary of phase 1 and phase 2 in the life
of
> > the OVC. In practice, this boundary is not quite as clear cut. In a
> > sense, the early part of the R&D phase may be considered an "enhanced
demo"
> > phase. However, I think it's clear that phase 2 begins when we get some
> > institutional funding support.
>
> Obviously, many OVC members disagree with you. With proper support
> from the top (you, the OVC board), funding would not be necessary for
> _development_.
>
I don't know how many OVC members disagree with me. I don't know how many
believe that production-grade voting software--ready for certification--can
be developed with all volunteers in a reasonable time frame. Clearly,
leading such an effort is full time work. Who can afford to work on this
full-time without pay?

> > At this moment, we have exactly zero
> > institutional funding support.
>
> Again, why wait for it to materialize?
>
> > There is good reason to believe this will
> > change soon and we may have some announcement about this within the next
> > few weeks (okay, I've been saying that for a long time... I think it's
true
> > though).
>
> I'll be delighted when and if it happens. Funding _can_ make certain
things
> easier; but it is not necessary.
>
>From my perspective, this is a non-issue. We are pursuing funding. This
doesn't need to be an issue for everyone on the voting-project list. It's
something that some of us need to work on--and we're doing that.

> > This is important work we are doing. We need to work together to pull
this
> > off.
>
> I agree absolutely. David Mertz, Liam Helmer, and I have been discussing
> reviving the work done by the evm2003 team and continuing the work that
Liam
> has done. The tentative name for this project is 'evmix'. This will
> (hopefully) be (or become) an officially blessed OVC project, but it will
be
> independent of any institution funding/projects/etc. The goal is to create
a
> production quality implementation of the OVC work that has been done to
date.
> Of course the project will change and grow as other OVC R&D kick into
effect.
>
I called Liam some weeks ago and told him how grateful I was to have him on
the team. Today, Liam mentioned that he was disappointed in the feedback he
got from the EVMix CD he produced. So, let's get him some feedback!

Alan D.

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Received on Sat Jul 31 23:17:07 2004

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