San Francisco takes another step toward open voting

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Thu May 17 2007 - 15:10:15 CDT

I sent the message below to our announcements list, and I'm including a few
other goodies in this message. See attached letter from Brent Turner to
Mayor Newsom.

Brent deserves a lot of credit for our progress in San Francisco. I counted
four instances of "Brent Turner said" in the April 18 minutes of the
Elections Commission meeting. He's everywhere.

Most people have no idea how many letters, phone calls, emails, faxes,
meetings, hearings, etc. go into pushing this idea forward. Brent knows,
and he is relentless.

Dear Friends of Open Voting:

This is probably the biggest victory for the Open Voting movement so far.
Last night, the San Francisco Elections Commission voted 6-1 to adopt a
policy favoring the use of open source software in their voting systems,
and, more generally, favoring the "maximum level of security and
transparency possible consistent with the principles of public disclosure."

This was introduced by Commissioners Arnold Townsend and Victor Hwang. We
congratulate them and all the other Commissioners for taking this bold step.

Here is the complete text of the general policy statement they passed:

     Whereas California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has
     expressed strong support for a move towards open source
     election software;

     Whereas members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
     have recently raised concerns about ratifying a contract
     for voting machines which did not allow for open source

     And whereas the San Francisco Department of Elections has
     already announced its intent to establish a task force to
     look into a transition into open source technology;

     Pursuant to Section 13.105.5, San Francisco Charter which
     authorizes the Election Commission to establish general
     policies for the Elections Department, the Elections
     Commission establishes the following general policies;

     First, the Elections Commission endorses the policy of
     using voting system technologies and software that maximize
     voting system security while at the same time providing the
     maximum level of transparency possible to assure voters
     that their votes will be counted as cast.

          Specifically, to ensure the integrity of our elections
          and to increase public confidence in our government,
          the Commission endorses the policy that the Department
          of Elections should make reasonable efforts to select
          and use voting systems technology, including hardware
          and software, that at a minimum, is publicly disclosed.

          In this context, public disclosure means that members
          of the public should have at least the right to
          inspect, test, and comment on such technology in
          a procurement process and as configured for a specific
          election independent of the San Francisco Department
          of Elections or other government agency of the City
          and County of San Francisco,

     Second, the Commission adopts as policy that the Election
     Department shall endeavor in contracting to prioritize and
     select if possible, voting systems and vendors which provide
     the maximum level of security and transparency possible
     consistent with the principles of public disclosure. This
     policy will enable the citizenry to understand the
     methodology involved in the election process, in a manner
     consistent with ensuring secret ballot protection and voting
     system security.

We notice how all these initiatives tend to reinforce each other. We also
thank you, the supporter of the open voting movement, as well as Debra
Bowen, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the San Franciso
Elections Department.

Alan Dechert

OVC-discuss mailing list

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Received on Thu May 31 23:17:03 2007

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