Ms. Tobi's overheated rhetoric

From: David Jefferson <d_jefferson_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Sat Nov 03 2007 - 00:44:12 CDT

Hi Alan,

> David Jefferson wrote,
>> ... None of us wants to sign NDAs, and all of us want
>> the technology to be open. You apparently have no
>> idea what actually happens. ...
> I think there are two distinct types of efforts favoring
> transparency at
> work. One has to do with the "behind the scenes," battles you
> describe, and
> the other has to do with more public battles. It's a different
> community of
> people in these two battlegrounds and the two don't necessarily know
> or pay
> attention to what the other is doing.

Whether Ms. Tobi is familiar with what goes on in the behind-the-scenes
arena or not is irrelevant. There is absolutely no support for her
statements even in the public arena. There is no

     "elitist movement among technologists to yank our elections out
       of the populist muck",

and there are absolutely no public statements by technologists
that support that idea. Ms. Tobi, or someone, just made that up.

Likewise, there do not exist any

     "self appointed experts ... [who] ... are drowning in their own
       created illusion that a high tech, complexified, opaque, and
       expertified election system can meet the standards for a free
       and open democracy".

Who the hell is she talking about? Ms. Tobi, or whoever first suggested
this nonsense, did not get it from any examination of any of the active
technologists' writings or statements. None of them wants
systems; no one wants "opaque" or "expertified" systems. Ms. Tobi, or
someone, just made that stuff up too.

It has been the technologists who, more than any others, from the
almost unanimously and more than most others, have made and articulated
the arguments that voting systems have to be simple, auditable,
transparent and open. Many of us were active well before there was any
public knowledge of, or support for, the criticisms of electronic voting
systems we were making. Now there are probably 100 nationally prominent
technologists who provide virtually all of the fundamental technical
and evidence that advance the cause of election transparency, privacy,

So I repeat: At least with regard to her statement today, Ms. Tobi,
rhetorically creative, has no idea what she is talking about.

> When you say all the experts want the technology to be open, I have
> to say
> that people in the public policy arena don't really know that.

I assume you are not talking about yourself, since you of all people
how many of the prominent technologists in this field have called for
at least
disclosed source, and have fought long battles over NDAs and proprietary
restrictions on technical information about voting systems.

It is conceivable, I suppose, that some people in this community don't
that. But that does not give them standing to make extreme,
insulting, and
completely unsupportable nonsense statements 180 degrees away from the
truth, as Ms. Tobi has done.

Do you, Alan, defend Ms. Tobi's statements?

> Here's an idea: How about we draft something that says all the
> experts want
> the technology to be open and get all the experts to sign it so
> those of us
> in the public policy arena can use that. For example, right now (as
> in
> TODAY), we want people to weigh in on the side of an examination fee
> waiver
> for open source in NY. If we had such a statement, we could attach
> it to a
> comment sent to the NYS Board of Elections.
> Can you help with that, David?

I can't do that, although I wish you luck in this endeavor.

I cannot endorse candidates, or bills, or sign petitions, speak to
audiences, join advocacy groups, speak to the press on the record, or do
anything else that makes it easy to label me as "having an agenda".
That is why I can't help -- not because I don't support waiving
fees for open source systems (sounds reasonable), but because I have to
stay at arm's length from policy advocacy unless asked by officials.


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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:06 2007

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