Re: Partisanship and a Voting Project

From: Fred McLain <mclain_at_zipcon_dot_net>
Date: Mon Nov 08 2004 - 22:27:58 CST

Hi Joel,

On Mon, 2004-11-08 at 17:53, Joel Harris wrote:
> I have been a member of this list for several months now. I have become
> quite discouraged with the prospects of this project over the last few
> weeks specifically during the last week. It appears (just by looking at
> the content of the messages on the list over the last few weeks) that
> the focus of the project has become more advocacy rather than writing
> good voting software code. In fact, I have not seen a post regarding
> the actual project in weeks (I may have missed it, but I don't think so).

There is a specific list for software development. It's
OVC-demo-team@lists.sonic.net, this list is far to high traffic for that
- I don't believe most devs monitor this list, I haven't until
recently. The demo list is idle right now, for a couple of reasons.
First that we do not have a clear goal beyond the demo we already
produced. Second, and importantly because there has been no funding for
doing development.

When we were producing the demo I spent nearly all of my spare time
working on it. Many of the developers did the same. John-Paul pulled
several all-nighters putting the UI for the voting stations together at
a sprint. I don't expect sympathy, but you should know a bit of the
history before complaining too much. When the demo was launched I took
a week to come down and correct last minute problems (a great many) and
set up the demo location. In part because of this we never had a crash
while showing the system. Very much unlike the commercial systems.

As a side note, the place I was working at OK'ed my being on this
project. They also OK'ed my flying down to CA (on my own $$), that is
until they changed their mind 2 days before I left and after I'd
purchased plane tickets. They then fired me specifically because I was
intent on supporting our demo. Given the state of software jobs in the
northwest that meant I was out of work for over 4 months with no
unemployment. I've a family of 4 so this ended up costing me about
$30,000. I think you can see where this is going...

What I'm trying to point out is that going production with this system
*requires advocacy*, because that is the only way we will obtain
funding. Software is expensive, even open source software, because
developers do get paid somehow, either through sponsorship or employment
by the organization. Even those that are strictly volunteer do often
care about the notoriety of the project, which again requires advocacy.

Right now there isn't, and hasn't been a single paid or sponsored
developer. As the demo dev team lead I think that is important.

> The tone of the advocacy efforts has been quite one-sided. There was a
> request looking for "High Traffic Websites" I supposed to try to find
> donors for the project. But it specifically requested "progressive" web
> sites
> (http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/November.2004/0065.html).
> The results were sites such as michaelmoore, salon, Democratic
> Underground and Democrats. This happens to be oposite to my particular
> political stand, but I think I would have been equally frustrated had I
> seen a bunch of sites such as Drudge and Rushlimbaugh.

You've a point well taken there. Agreed.

...

If you care to help with the development, the uncompleted demo tasks are
testing of Liam's Strong Box implementation (read: secure install w/OS)
and "clean up" of the numbers displayed by the BRP software, some counts
were created with a misunderstanding of what was requested. The BRP
also needs to have it's dependencies reduced. If you care to discuss
working on these we should do it on the development list.

        -Fred-

-- 
Fred McLain, OVC-Demo Team Lead
http://www.openvotingconsortium.org
fred@openvoting.org
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler - Albert Einstein.
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Received on Tue Nov 30 23:17:20 2004

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