Re: OVC on HR 811

From: Teresa Hommel <tahommel_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sun Jul 15 2007 - 18:26:32 CDT

See note below.


David Mertz wrote:

>On Jul 14, 2007, at 8:37 PM, Teresa Hommel wrote:
>>Please read my comments on the bill before you continue to support it.
>This feels exactly like the sort of "the best is the enemy of the
>good" attitude that Matt Zimmerman discusses in EFF analysis I
>mention (
>For every single one of Teresa's mentioned weaknesses, HR 811 makes
>things *better than the status quo*. Indeed, for all of them, it
>doesn't make things *as good as I would like*. But I just don't
>believe that there's magical perfect legislation just sitting in
>committee that would be passed if only HR 811 is defeated. Our real-
>world choice (for this Congressional session) is getting this
>legislation passed as a first step, or keeping the status quo.
>On one point, Teresa's analysis is flat-out false rather than merely
>imagining "the perfect law". Trade secrets are an existing fact that
>limit transparency of elections: HR 811 would slightly weaken trade
>secret law (and *absolutely NOT* establish it), or at least the
>effects of such bad law, but not nearly as much as I'd like. The
>claim that HR 811 creates some new barrier to disclosure of code is
>more-or-less just absurd.
The trade secret status of voting machine software is established by
contracts of sale. Under HR811 these contract provisions would not be
needed because the bill itself establishes trade secret status of voting
system software, including Ballot Definition Files. This is a change in
the law--there is no law now that mandates that voting system software
is secret.

In a democracy, the people are supposed to be able to observe election
procedures. It is inappropriate in the first place to conduct those
procedures in a manner that prevents observation, that is, conduct them
inside a computer. And it is further inappropriate for the law to
mandate that the software that runs the computers should be secret and
only available via non-disclosure agreements.

>Most of the other points amount to "not enough money, and overly
>loose time requirements". True enough. The status quo is: "ZERO
>money, and NO requirement to EVER carry out HR 811's limited
>This is a *good* bill. We're shooting ourselves in the foot by
>posturing against its real-world flaws, and making any future
>legislative agenda for better bills in later sessions that much less
>likely to ever occur.
>Yours, David...
>OVC-discuss mailing list

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Received on Tue Jul 31 23:17:04 2007

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