[OVC-demo-team] EVM2003 & Indian Elections

From: Anand Pillai <anand_pillai_at_fastmail_dot_fm>
Date: Wed Mar 17 2004 - 04:45:01 CST

Indian General Elections are nearing and we are right now in the
canvasing phase.

This time in India, they plan to substitute paper ballots with
Electronic Voting Machines in many states. These machines
are mass produced by the fully owned govt. company "ECIL"
(Electronic Corporation of India Pvt. Ltd). The complaint
has been raised by the non-ruling political parties that this
machines does not have a voter verifiable paper trial. In
fact it is a "black box" like one of the Diebold voting
machines. It might be possible for someone in the company
who favors the ruling politcal party to actually tamper with
the machines, theorotically.

This will be the first general election in India where voting
machines will be used majorly. In fact, highlighting the project
in Indian media at this stage might give it a lot of exposure
here.

I was thinking of writing a small article or writeup on the
evm2003 project to be published in one of the Indian opensource
magazines. I have connections with one of them named "Linux for you",
who is currently publishing an article series on Python written by
me.

If the idea sounds good, I shall go ahead and write a summary of
the project with emphasis on Linux and the free software used, tailored
towards a reader who favors open technologies. I shall appreciate
the help of Alan in this regard, w.r.t the material that I can
publish about the project.

Expecting your valuable feedback.

Regards

-Anand

----- Original message -----
From: "David Mertz" <voting-project@gnosis.cx>
To: OVC-demo-team@lists.sonic.net
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 15:25:44 -0500
Subject: [OVC-demo-team] ballot-election.xml

> Fair enough, let's make a decision and make sure everything reflects
> it.
> Wasn't an election XML file supposed to be used to pull all the info
> from?
> Did anyone ever produce this? Volunteers?

I have just produced an (English) ballot-election.xml file[*]. The
format is loosely based on the one described in the Architecture
document, but it has been updated to make tag and attribute names match
those currently used in a <cast_ballot>. I used Jan's contests.py as a
copy/past source to try to minimize the introduction of typos when I
entered the names (and to make sure I didn't skip any names by mistake).

[*] Versions for other languages should look much the same. If Spanish
or French translators want to create ballot-election-en.xml or
ballot-election-fr.xml, that would be cool.

The following top-level attributes that occur in a <cast_ballot> do not
make sense for an (uncast) <ballot>: 'source', 'serial', 'number'.
These are, therefore omitted from the raw ballot format.

The attribute 'writein' likewise is not relevant to a raw ballot, but
the attribute 'party' is. This optional attribute is not included for
non-partisan contests Conceivably some other <selection> metadata will
be relevant in the future (e.g. "incumbency"), and an additional
attribute would be the perfect place to put it.

For the referenda, I needed to invent some new tags to contain the
information presented to voters. I'm not terribly attached to the
tag names or hierarchical organization I chose, but I believe it's
reasonable for the nonce. Assuming gnosis.xml.objectify continues to
be used in processing this file, such extra tags can be transparently
ignored if you just want the <selection> choices, e.g.:

     ballot = make_instance("ballot-election.xml")
     for contest in ballot.contest:
         doSomething(contest.name)
         for selection in contest.selection:
             somethingElse(selection.PCDATA)
         whatAbout(contest.summary.scope)

I had to retype the referenda information from the ballot picture, and
I found two errors on the sample (that I had not noticed previously).
I copied the errors as-is, but Alan, Doug, or Arthur might want to
consider whether these detract from the demo if left in place:

(1) Constitutional Amendments No.1 and No.2 both name an effective
date. However, the first date is spelled out as "November 1, 2004"
while the second one is abbreviated as "1/1/05". I'm pretty sure there
are applicable regulations about exactly how a date should be described
(probably the first way).

(2) On the term limit initiative, there is a number/grammar error: "A
provisions".

Incidentally, in copying referenda descriptive data to XML, I have used
normal capitalization rather than all-caps. It is simple to force
fields to caps in software (for ballot display), but much less simple
to go in the other direction (I know more about which legal-ish words
need capitalization than most software does).

Yours, David...

P.S. I figured out (some of) Sourceforge's CVS last night. So I can
check in this file if it looks helpful. Let me know if any problems
jump out. In general, this should replace Jan's contests.py data, but
that substitution is hardly such an urgent thing that it needs to
happen before the first demo (if it ain't broke... though I confess I
violated that rule in speeding/cleaning up evm2003.utils.convert
slightly and unnecessarily).

-- 
  Anand Pillai
  anand_pillai@fastmail.fm
-- 
http://www.fastmail.fm - A no graphics, no pop-ups email service
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Received on Thu Apr 1 02:40:28 2004

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