Re: Business Line article.

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Sun Mar 21 2004 - 16:22:29 CST


> The very next paragraph reads:
> -------------------------------------
> However, Ritchie says he is confident that the Open Vote Foundation can
> its system at a much lower cost than private vendors, primarily because it
> using the services of volunteer programmers. The average cost of an
> terminal in the US is $3,000.
> -------------------------------------
> Are we being protrayed simply as yet another private vendor?
I don't think so.

> The article also mentions that S. Richie is planning to develop a fork of
> eVACS. We've thought of this, right? ......
Yes, very briefly.

Since the Aussie voting system requirements are different and much simpler,
it is not worth it for us to spend much time with it with respect to the
production software we will start working on after the demo. Does it make
sense to spend time to figure out how to fit a lawnmower engine into a
Ferrari? [actually, "Ferrari" may not be the best analogy. Maybe "dump
truck" would be better. The point is, you might figure out how to make it
fit but it's not going to get you anywhere because it's simply inadequate.]

> It makes perfect sense from an
> engineering point of view, ....
No, I don't think it makes sense. Besides, looking at the entirety of the
R&D project we will undertake (universities funded through the states), the
voting machine software is a tiny percentage of the whole pie. The eVACS
system is pretty much irrelevant except that it shows that someone else also
thought of using open source software running on commodity trailing edge
PCs. Also, the eVACS system was designed as networked DREs (no printed
ballot). This is an unacceptable configuration. Looking at all the design
changes required to make this into something reasonable gives one a strong
hint: Forget it and start over.

It may have made sense to use if we could have used the code and made some
quick changes for a reasonable demo. This is something I did try to do. It
turns out that the "GPL" code the Aussies had published was
crippled...purposely. They weren't keen on the idea of someone taking their
stuff and making money off it (the lead developer, Matt Quinn, told me that
they haven't recovered their costs--I guess it was underbid).

> ...and is the main reason Richie's project shouldn't
> be dismissed as "just one undergrad doomed to fail".
> University students have been known to create very
> successful opensource projects **cough**linux**
> cough** without teams of experts and piles of HAVA money.
I wish him the best of luck and I told him so. Right now he's a kid with a
web site that has no content. He's undertaking an enormous project going
against deeply entrenched interests.

I think the OVC would benefit from some competition. There have been more
than a few people that have tried to do something like what we're doing. I
don't know any others that have gotten very far (several that tried have
joined this project, BTW). I don't see any sign of progress on Ritchie's
web site since it appeared two months ago.

Ritchie wrote to me and said he'd keep me informed of developments. I'm
still waiting to hear back. Frankly, there are a great many issues to think
through. We've done a lot of that. He hasn't. We have a long ways to go:
He has a lot further to go that we do.

The OVC is doing some trailblazing work. We need to understand what others
are doing and what other have done. But there is no road map. It's up to
us to figure it out. I think I see the way, but we'll only know that for
sure when we get there.

Alan D.

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Received on Wed Mar 31 23:17:08 2004

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