Re: Consensus of the OVC

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Thu May 27 2004 - 12:13:42 CDT


> By-the-way, using CDW retail prices as a metric, a 15" touch screen costs
> $689 and a 17" costs $1089. Not an inconsequential difference.
17" touchscreens can be had for around $800, and the price is dropping.
However, we don't yet know what percentage will use a touchscreen and what
percentage will use some other input device.

> Can you imagine voters
> > paging through 76 screens?
> I'm sure that the judges involved don't think that their elections deserve
> second tier status on the ballot.
The OVC system will be voter-centered, not judge centered.

> > I don't buy it. Voting technology has evolved over a period of decades
> > (centuries, actually, but it has changed rapidly with the advent of
> > computers). It will continue to evolve for decades to come.
> I disagree. A typical civil servant isn't going to go out and risk
> his/her job to buy a second round of voting gear right after buying a set
> of nice shiny printing DRE's - there simply won't be sufficient political
> or budgetary justification for it.
DREs are already DOA.

> Technology does evolve, but the best technology does not always win -
> witness Betamax vs VHS. ....
Now they're both pretty much obsolete.

> It took a true revolution in formats, the DVD, to finally begin to
> displace what everyone new to be a deficient format, VHS tape.
Right. The technology evolved.

> The same is true for printing DRE's (which are not an oxymoron) ...
It is oxymoronic if the printout could potentially "win" in case of some
discrepancy. The essence of the Direct Record Electronic vote is that when
you push "cast my ballot," you have cast an electronic ballot. You're done.
Your vote has been cast. If the paper "receipt" could be used in place of
the EBI, the vote was not Directly Recorded Electronically.

There are a litany of legal issues involved here that have not been tested.

> ...- they will satisify many of the concerns for voter verification. And
> once those concerns are satisfied, our points about whether the paper
> is the primary source of voter intent or merely an audit record are going
> to be heard as esoteric minutiae and not worth the extra conversion costs.
The issue will not go away. If only an audit record, it's likely to be
dropped at some point. They'll say, "nobody ever looks at these pieces of
paper so why do we keep printing and storing them?"

> My feeling is that if we miss the current window of opportunity then the
> next chance is at least 20+ years out.
Nah. There is a big window of opportunity this year. It was opened further
with the fiasco in March. The voting system is on a lot of people's minds
because it's an election year--fairly hotly contested. Some might try
anything to win.

If the election goes fairly smoothly this November (probably will), the
issue will fade a bit but will not go away. The faulty voting system was a
hot topic in the first half of 2001. After 9-11, a lot of people expected
the issue to be resolved quietly. It re-surfaced because DRE technology is

The real reason the OVC system will take hold is that it will be better and
cheaper. It may happen quickly or slowly. We prefer quickly.

> > ...It's certainly true that the sooner we can get something
> > certified the better. One of the main principles we need to follow to
> > streamline certification is this:
> >

> I am in active discussion with multiple multi-billion dollar companies to
> see whether they are willing to produce an appropriate box - including the
> electronics. (All of these companies produce this kind of stuff on a
> routine basis and all comprehend Linux and open source software issues.)
> The feedback to date is positive but no committments yet. The target box
> that I've suggested to them is a single unit, batteries inside, printer
> inside, possibly the paper inside, flat touchscreen, total power draw on
> the order of 75watts (maybe a bit more depending on the the printer
> technology) with appropriate ports for peripherals (flash memory, CD/RW)
> all behind doors that can be sealed with locks or lead-wire seals.
It sounds like you want to build a dedicated unit that will require
warehousing and there is no chance any of it will be used other than for
elections. This is a possible OVC model, but not the most economical. It's
also looking a lot like Accupoll. For that matter, we could offer to write
GPL software for the Accupoll unit. I'm not
interested in this approach. I want to build something where all of the
components are multi-use. I'm not convinced that building something
dedicated--just to make it easy to get something certified--has value.

Alan D.
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Received on Mon May 31 23:18:09 2004

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