From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Sat Mar 20 2004 - 12:42:23 CST

GRANITE BAY, CALIFORNIA -- The Open Voting Consortium will demonstrate a
version of its free election software on the 1st of April at 10:00 AM in the
Santa Clara County government office building, 70 W. Hedding St., room 157,
San Jose. The Open Voting Consortium intends to make free voting software
available for use in public elections to begin a process founders hope will
transform the voting system from a fraud-prone, blackbox, proprietary,
expensive, idiosyncratic, unreliable system to a technically sound,
accurate, secure, inexpensive, uniform and open voting system.

An international team of volunteer scientists and engineers developed the
demonstration system. Jan Karrman of Sweden, a senior research engineer at
Uppsala University says that the international role of the U.S. "makes it
important outside the U.S. as well that fair elections are being held
there." John-Paul Gignac of Canada wrote the software for the graphical user
interface. Anand Pillai of Bangalore India, Eron Lloyd of Pennsylvania, and
Dr. David Mertz of Massachusetts have been the other main software code
contributors. Fred McLain, a noted computer security expert from
Washington, has served as the lead developer over the past two months. "I'm
proud of what this team has accomplished," said McLain. "We'll show a touch
screen system that prints a ballot, a ballot verification system, another
system for reading impaired voters that works with headphones, and a vote
tallying system that processes the paper ballots."

A simulation of the poll-site voting machine is available on the Internet.
Users can print the same ballot as with the standalone voting machine, or
they can view the ballot on the screen. "We're happy to make this available
on the Internet," says Laird Popkin, a software wizard from New York who
developed the user interface for the Internet simulation. "I think this
really helps people to get what we're talking about."

"Voters should not be fooled into thinking their vote is secure with
paperless electronic voting machines. We need a system like the Open Voting
Consortium is developing that produces a paper ballot that voters can see,
touch, and verify before placing in the ballot box," according to Dr. Arthur
Keller, who teaches computer science at UC Santa Cruz, and serves as Vice
President of the Open Voting Consortium. Professor Douglas W. Jones, a
University of Iowa computer scientist and often-quoted expert on voting
technology, agrees: "It's too easy to fool with a purely electronic record.
We need a physical token to represent the vote so that it can be checked by
ordinary human beings. We also want a system where all aspects of the
system are open to public inspection so we can be sure everything is above
board." Dr. Jones is also the Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of
the Open Voting Consortium.

"We are not in favor of having a public process run by private companies
that want to keep everything a secret," says Alan Dechert, President of the
Open Voting Consortium. "It was wise to commit serious funding to modernize
the voting system. But it would be foolish to spend all the money on
immature technology that will be obsolete in a few years. We advocate
spending a small percentage of this money on a comprehensive scientific
research and development project that will give us the best possible voting
system." The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) earmarks nearly four
billion dollars for voting modernization. Upwards of $1.5 billion has been
appropriated for this fiscal year. "We are working with universities in
several states to get this project launched. Iowa State University and the
University of California are leading the way, with strong teams developing
in Illinois and Nevada, so far."

The Open Voting Consortium is a Nonprofit California Corporation dedicated
to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for use
in public elections.
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Received on Wed Mar 31 23:17:07 2004

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