Re: mechanicals for an open voting system

From: Tom McCarty <tom_at_tom-mccarty_dot_com>
Date: Fri Jun 23 2006 - 16:53:15 CDT

Thanks, Edmund, I read about three months of the archives but I'll keep
going back.

I wholeheartedly agree that it has to be user friendly. I expect at
least half a dozen prototypes before something acceptable is arrived at,
and several more for manufacturing ease (if it ever gets there).


Edmund R. Kennedy wrote:

>Don't forget that you need to build some sort of
>printer enclosure. If you will dig down into the
>correspondence archives, there was considerable
>discussion about this issue at one time. The basic
>enclosure has to accomodate a number of different
>printer designs, be able to be opened in case of jams
>and vandal resistant. Also, the printer, along with
>any other enclosure, has to be designed to accomodate
>tamper evident seals for election day.
>I cannot emphasize too much that this equipment has to
>be user friendly and the typical user will have a very
>low amount of mechanical apptitude. You might want to
>study the kludge printer added to the Diebold TSx in
>California for things not to do.
>Thanks, Ed Kennedy
>--- Tom McCarty <> wrote:
>>Hello all,
>>I was added to this list just recently, but have
>>been a monthly
>>supporter of OVC (albeit a small one) since Nov.
>>2004, and finally have
>>some time to donate to the cause.
>>What I'm interested in doing is designing and
>>prototyping the
>>mechanicals to support the EVM2003 software so that
>>real demonstrations
>>of the system could be done. This would include a
>>secure case for the
>>computer, as well as fabrication of the voting booth
>>and any other
>>associated mechanicals parts. I have a small
>>machine shop, and can
>>design, machine, and fabricate anything needed. All
>>work done would be
>>"open design", covered under one of the free
>>licenses so anyone could
>>make their own voting system by buying the parts on
>>the BOM, and going
>>to a machine shop with the freely available
>>I have so many questions with branching
>>possibilities, I'm not sure
>>where to start. I've read everything on the OVC
>>website and the EVM2003
>>sourceforge site, yet I still feel like I'm coming
>>out of left field in
>>trying to actually build a system.
>>First off, has anyone else worked on the mechanicals
>>of an open voting
>>system? Is there already a demo system somewhere?
>>If not, what do
>>people do for demonstrations now? Is EVM2003 far
>>enough along that a
>>demo can even be shown, or has it been abandoned in
>>favor of making
>>existing vendors improve their offerings? I don't
>>see much recent
>>discussion of EVM, and the lack of pictures on the
>>website and the use
>>of "an open voting system will..." rather than "our
>>open voting is..."
>>is not encouraging.
>>The OVC website says that refurbished PCs can be
>>used, but I really
>>think an industrial single-board computer (SBC) is
>>the way to go.
>>Rolling out a voting system across a sprawling state
>>like California
>>using thousands upon thousands of refurbished PCs
>>sounds like a
>>nightmare, even assuming you could find enough
>>machines with all the I/O
>>and the video resolution you require. Since most
>>systems work best with
>>different device drivers, you can't just use one
>>disk image for all
>>machines, either, and having hundreds of different
>>kinds of PCs will
>>make for longer service times whenever something
>>does go wrong.
>>I propose using an industrial SBC in the EPIC format
>>(which has
>>multi-vendor support) like the EPX-GX from
>>The biggest advantage of industrial SBCs is that
>>identical boards, down
>>to individual components, are produced for years.
>>These WinSystems
>>boards are $470 each in quantity 100 - a bit more
>>than usual - but these
>>boards will be available for another 7-10 years,
>>significantly reducing
>>maintenance headaches over this time. Because of
>>their long lifetime,
>>industrial PCs are well-designed and actually
>>tested, unlike commodity
>>PCs, which reduce failure over time. There are many
>>more issues about
>>SBC requirements, like storage (disk-on-chip for
>>booting, and voting
>>data on CD-ROM?) and interconnection (ethernet?
>>serial? USB?) to be
>>figured out, but that's enough for now.
>>Next would be a secure case for the SBC to control
>>physical access.
>>Rather than having a black or beige box for a voting
>>machine, clear
>>lexan could be used to allow an unobstructed view at
>>the interior
>>components. I think it would be great for
>>demonstrations, esp. for
>>people that have difficulty visualizing computer
>>security concepts (like
>>reporters). A clear enclosure would give a strong
>>visual reminder that
>>this is an "open" system, and would make for some
>>good pictures on the
>>website, too. It could use a real lock (like
>>Medeco) for I/O access,
>>and yet another lock for technician-level board
>>The final obvious part is a stand to hold the
>>touch-screen, computer,
>>UPS, and printer, as well as blinders to keep others
>>from seeing the
>>screen. I don't even want to speculate on the
>>design for this until
>>figuring out the PC & case issues, but it should be
>>a simple human
>>factors analysis and lots of sheet metal.
>>Obviously, my proposed design is not the cheapest
>>possible design, but
>>given that there's no profit margin or R&D costs to
>>recover, it should
>>still be 25%-50% cheaper than Sequoia or Diebold
>>equipment, and offer
>>unparallel security, reliability, and
>>maintainability. My thought it
>>that the best way to compete with the big commercial
>>vendors is not on
>>price alone, but rather, with a system that is
>>ultra-reliable. When it
>>comes down to it, election workers just want
>>elections to happen without
>>any problems, and they care about reliability and
>>ease of use more than
>>they care about security, so I think starting the
>>design with a
>>high-reliability industrial PC is the best way to
>>insure this, even if
>>it does make the system more expensive than
>>absolutely needed.
>>So, what do you all think? Is this a good thing to
>>work on, or would it
>>be a waste of time? Am I missing some huge piece of
>>the puzzle? I have
>>no idea where this might lead to (design docs on OVC
>>website? a single
>>demo system? or even a company that manufactures OV
>>hardware?), I just
>>see a necessary piece that hasn't been done, and I
>>am trying to do it.
>> Tom
>>ps: to see some other projects I've worked on, check
>>OVC-discuss mailing list

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Received on Fri Jun 30 23:17:10 2006

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