Re: Open Source Quality

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Tue May 11 2004 - 13:23:20 CDT

At 10:55 AM -0500 5/11/04, Douglas W. Jones wrote:
>On May 10, 2004, at 9:37 PM, Arthur Keller wrote:
>>I'd go so far as to say that it's clear we DO NOT need a database at
>>the polling place.

Actually, it wasn't be who wrote that statement. I think it was David Mertz.

>We may not have a database management system in the polling place,
>but the moment you have a collection of files, some containing
>electronic ballot images, some containing electronic ballot
>definitions, and some containing audit records of one kind or
>another, you have a database.

At the polling place, I believe you should have collections of
structured flat files. One could call this a database, but you don't
need to use a database management system. At the county level, you
really need a production-grade database management system.

>If you insist on ignoring this fact, you are at risk of ending
>up with an ad-hoc design. So, we should pay attention to the fact
>that we indeed do have a database in the voting machine.

In particular, it could be a collection of digitally signed XML files.

>It need
>not be stored using a general-purpose database system, but we must
>be aware of it's data model, and we might as well be prepared to
>export the data in a data format that allows its import into standard
>database systems.

Yes, although it's reasonable that there needs to be software (part
of the canvassing system) that reads, validates, and loads the data
into a database using the (county or state) database management
system. Please note that the schema of the (county or state)
database could (should?) be standardized and the schema of the XML
flat files will be standardized. Ideally, they are compatible with
each other. As much as possible, the canvassing software should
enable plug-compatible replacement of the database management system
so long as the database schema stays compatible.

It is for this reason that the data model(s) for the database(s) is
(are) a worthwhile thing to consider, and so is the schema (e.g.,
DTD) for XML-format ballot images.

Best regards,

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:35 2004

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