is OVC doing anything to solicit investment from NY

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sun Jul 01 2007 - 15:10:59 CDT

Sounds like NY should be courted to invest in OVC?

  Voting Machine Vendors: We Won’t Comply With NY Law

My response: Comply with the law, or take your business elsewhere

On June 20, 2007 Rick Gleim, vice president of Avante International
Technology sent an email to all New York State election commissioners
and officials concerning New York State’s source code review laws. Mr.
Gleim argues for relaxation of New York State's escrow and source code
review requirements. There are two points made by Mr. Gleim that are
necessary to rebut. I will address the first here, and the other,
regarding the low level code used in chipsets and microprocessors, in a
subsequent post.

In his message Mr. Gleim writes: “It is not possible to design new
equipment with new operating systems, new EMS and new hardware all with
vendor developed software and source code in less than a couple of
years. And that is, if the vendors wanted to do this.”

Mr. Gleim fails to note that voting system vendors have already had 2
years to produce equipment which complies with New York State election
law. Section 7-208 of Election law has been in force since June 2005
and states in part, “…shall place into escrow with the state board of
elections a complete copy of all programming, source coding and
software employed by the voting machine…” It should not be news to
anyone in the software industry that Microsoft would never allow their
source code to be escrowed -- they have rigorously defended this for
many years. Given that New York State election law is clear and
unambiguous, why did vendors not begin in July 2005 to develop systems
that would comply with New York States requirements? In the two-year
period between passage of the law and Mr. Gleim's message, it would
have been fully possible to develop systems using open source code
systems like Linux. Mr. Gleim acknowledges as much in his statement
above. But they chose not to. Why?

I spent 20 years as a software developer, with the latter half of my
career spent as a project manager leading world class software
development teams. If my boss had come to me in July of 2005 and said,
“There is a potential $300 million contract at stake in New York State,
and we have to develop products that comply with their laws so we can
compete in that market. Your job is to get it done in a year.” I could
have done it. Give me a team of five experienced programmers and we
could have easily developed such a compliant system. Voting machine
technology is after all, not rocket science. It's a basic application
of database technology - and open source code tools and operating
systems are readily available which could have been easily been used
had the vendors chosen to do so.

But, rather than develop a system that complied with New York State
law, voting machine vendors chose to use Microsoft Windows as the
operating system for their PC based Election Management Systems, and in
some cases for their touch screen DREs. As noted above, Microsoft has
always made it crystal clear that they would never, ever surrender
their source code - they never have and they never will. Microsoft has
rigorously defended this for years. However, voting machine vendors,
knowing full well that using the Windows operating system could not
possibly comply with New York State law chose to market their existing
Windows-based products anyway.

It is incumbent upon the voting machine vendors to produce products
that comply with New York State requirements. Rather than do that
however, they chose to ignore our requirements, and worked instead on
attempts to weaken the letter and the intent of our law. Today, rather
than focusing their efforts on developing systems that comply with New
York’s laws, they focus on lobbying attempts to weaken our
extraordinarily strong source code provision, one of which all New
Yorkers can be proud.

This decision to attempt to weaken our law rather than comply with it
is extraordinary, and flies in the face of the basic tenets of
Capitalism. Businesses exist to serve their customers, and they do so
by meeting their customer’s needs. In theory, the business that best
meets customer needs will prevail in the marketplace. I can't think of
another business which faced with a potential $300,000,000 contract
would not do everything in their power to make a product compliant with
New York State’s requirements. Typically the first step in developing
software products is to define the customer’s requirements, and then
design the product to meet the customer’s needs. But in this case
voting machine vendors would prefer to place the cart before the horse.
  They want New York State citizens to change our requirements to meet
their needs!

I note that Mr. Gleim says as much when he comments “And that is, if
the vendors wanted to do this.” Excuse me? If a vendor wants to compete
for New York State's multi-million dollar voting machine contract, then
they damn well better “want to do this.” If you prefer not to comply
with New York's requirements, that is certainly your right, but then
you'll have to take your business elsewhere.
Our laws are supposed to represent the will of the people. In June
2005 the people of New York State expressed their will regarding voting
machines and the escrow and review of source code. In June 2007 the
State Legislature reaffirmed their commitment to this law. It is clear
and unambiguous. It says that all source code must be escrowed and may
be subject to review by appointed independent reviewers. The vendors
have known this for two years. To be claiming now that there isn’t
sufficient time to produce products which comply with our law seeks to
hide the fact that for 24 months they have chosen to not only ignore,
but to actively undermine the will of the people of the great State of
New York.

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Received on Tue Jul 31 23:17:02 2007

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