Re: Principles of Open Voting

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sat Jul 02 2005 - 15:22:28 CDT

Arthur,

> Certainly, the existence of ballot printer architecture systems would be a
> good thing. If Populex were open source, would that be open voting?
> After all, that's a form of ballot printer architecture.
>
Actually, yes, I think Populex would qualify for open voting and ballot
printer architecture. I think it's weaker than what we have demonstrated
since they do not print the text! I would be happy to have Populex join
OVC.

As I understand it, the Populex system prints a bar code on a card, and also
prints numbers corresponding to choices on the ballot. The voter can verify
the numbers using a key or chart that shows which numbers correspond to
choices. This could work if a system for proving that the voter always sees
the right key is established. An obvious hack would be to give the voter a
key that shows "4" corresponding to his or her vote for president, while "3"
is actually the one intended. Given so many ballot styles in use and so
many different rules for ballot rotation, it is not trivial to ensure that
these keys are always correct -- better to print the text, imo.

> I think that openness should not necessarily imply a particular
> architecture.
>
>
> I think we need to separate out the notion of open voting from the notion
> of the "Dechert" architecture. After all, OVC's first CTO Doug Jones
> proposed the term "Open Voting Systems" be plural. It is clear that a
> properly implemented Dechert-architecture system is an Open Voting system.
> It's not clear to me that the only Open Voting systems will be those with
> Dechert-architectures.
>
That's fine but it has nothing to do with the topic under discussion. I
never refer to "Dechert architectures." It is incidental that I happen to
be the one that did the high-level design of the systems OVC has
demonstrated so far. If we're going to do a demo, someone has to figure out
what it is we're going to demo. It was a team effort -- my role in that
effort was pretty clear, I think.

You have correctly noted that, for example, the ballot layout for the
summary paper ballot will need to evolve.

>>>2. To me, the notion of "open voting" have much more to do with the use
>>>of open (inspectable/published) source, open processes, open specs and
>>>requirements. I personally don't have the revulsion that some others do
>>>to proprietary systems as long as they are completely open to inspection
>>>by anyone and that no trade secrets are employed (other than to the
>>>values of security codes and locks).
>>Insofaras proprietary systems for voting increase costs, I don't want
>>them. Voting systems need to be inexpensive.
>
> You deleted my next sentence as reasons for using proprietary components.
>
No, I didn't delete them. I didn't happen to quote them in my response.
Likewise, I've trimmed stuff from this post as well. It just means I have
no comment on the things I left out.

> "Similarly, if some degree of non-commodity (or even proprietary) hardware
> (such as enclosures) considerably reduces the weight, usability, security
> or deployability of an otherwise open voting system, I would not rule it
> out provided that the designs and specs, etc., were publicly inspectable."
>
> Cost is to me not the only issue. ......
>
No one claims it is. It is an important threshold, however. Open Voting
Systems must be affordable ... long after the HAVA money is gone.

Alan D.

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Received on Sun Jul 31 23:17:12 2005

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