Re: Open Voting Foundation

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Mon Feb 28 2005 - 17:39:37 CST

On Feb 28, 2005, at 2:54 PM, David Mertz wrote:

> Alan Dechert wrote:
>>> sister organization called the Open Voting
>>> Foundation (OVF). I reserved the name today.
>>> The OVF will be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, which means
>>> donations will be tax deductible. The mission will be complementary
>>> to
>>> the OVC...
>
> On Feb 28, 2005, at 5:36 PM, Ron Crane wrote:
>> Does this mean that OVF will actually develop a platform based upon
>> OVC's software? But you say it has "nothing to do with deployment".
>
> I'm not Alan, but I know enough of the background that I think I can
> speak for the intention here.
>
> It's almost the opposite of what Ron suggests. The OVF would make it
> easier for individuals to contribute to the overall goal of creating
> Free Software/Voter-Verifiable voting systems; but to qualify for tax
> deductible status, OVF has to avoid direct political lobbying and/or
> commercial interests. The OVC is sort of halfway in the middle--it's
> non-profit, which is part of why it's not good as a direct vendor, but
> OVC is an "industry consortium" which means we can still lobby for
> favorable legislation and things like that.
>
> I am now thinking it probably *IS* time to create another sister
> organization: the Open Voting Partners (or whatever the name). Karl
> Auerbach (one of our board members, among other things) has been in
> favor of this, some other members have been more hesitant about it.
> That is, OVP would actually try to make money by selling hardware and
> services to states, where those systems matched OVC standards and
> goals. But this OVP is a big deal... it would need investors and/or
> capital; need to hire regular employees--both programmers and sales
> reps; and so on. OVC itself has kinda tried to do that, but hasn't
> really been able to raise enough money to do so yet. Just making OVP
> for-profit doesn't automatically get capital--though it may make
> certain routes easier.

I see. Yes, I think the OVP is necessary. As things stand, OVC's main
impact upon voting security will occur only if a vendor adopts its
software and is honest enough not to hack the hardware in the manner
I've described recently. But I think that's quite unlikely (see the
messages Ed K. and I exchanged yesterday (2/27) for more details), and
that, thus, we need to do it ourselves.

But OVP need not, and I think should not, be a for-profit enterprise.
It should be some variety of public-benefit foundation. Why? Because
there are many bad machines that need to be driven as quickly as
possible from the market and out of the polling places. And the only
realistic way to do that is to underprice them significantly. And that,
in turn, can be done only by an organization that's not required to
maximize the profit returned to shareholders. Further, even if the
return-on-investment pressure were absent, the profit motive is likely,
in time, to undermine the security motive, which would undo most or all
of our work.

> Of course, I myself have absolutely no mind, nor stomach, for such
> for-profit corporate endeavors. If, say, Ron wanted to form a
> company... well, I'm supportive and available for advice. But it's a
> big undertaking; one that needs to happen, I think, but hasn't yet.
> The name 'OVP' is incidental, 'Crane Enterprises' would be equally
> fine if the purpose was the same.

OVP will be a very difficult task. I'm up for contributing to the
effort, but not, at the moment anyway, for spearheading it. And,
yikes!, I sure don't want it named after me.

> P.S. To Ron: Ed Kennedy pointed out to me that a Ron Crane was
> important in the development of Ethernet; are you the same person? I
> saw you mention elsewhere that you are a lawyer. If both of those are
> you, let me say I am very impressed. No slight meant, of course, if
> you're not the Ethernet guy.

I worked some years at DEC, but was not involved in Ethernet, and was
unaware that I share a name with one of its developers. I worked on the
design and development of VAX/SVS, a virtual-machine operating system
intended to provide Orange Book A1-rated security for VAX/VMS and
Ultrix. And yes, I plead guilty to the practice of law. But only in
California. ;-)

-Ron

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Received on Thu Mar 31 23:17:03 2005

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