Re: Donation plan? and more

From: Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Tue Oct 26 2004 - 23:01:54 CDT

Hello Jim and Alan:

    These are excellent ideas. I urge you to keep working on them. I'm
going to start practicing some of your suggestions myself. I think that it
will be easier to get people's attention and rise above the basic noise
level starting November 3, 2004. I know that many of us are committed
deeply to either working in polling places, providing support to candidates
or the fairness of the electoral system in more traditional ways. Events I
expect to occur during November 2, 2004, will galvanize the nation into
seeking a better approach to voting. Before that day I beseech everyone to
take a few minutes to rethink OVC so we've got something to couple to this
surge of energy and attention that I expect. It might be a good time to
start examining some of our assumptions and checking them against the
current situation. A lot of people are going to be pretty discouraged about
the results of the elections of 2004 and we have the opportunity to provide
them with hope for the future.

Here's some of my thoughts along these lines:

1. I don't think we're going to have a product that we will be happy with
by the middle of 2005 especially as the organization has effectively just
had a visit to the emergency room.

2. I think a lot of the big 4 of voting equipment are going to be wondering
if they might better be in another line of business. If I were on the board
of directors of Diebold I'd be urging management to close out the voting
machine product line as it has been nothing but bad PR. In general, I find
it hard to believe that making voting machinery is even a long term viable
business model. After a long and controversial development cycle, you sell
your boxes to your customers and that is the major profit to be made. After
that, there's no big money to be made. Yes, machines will break and the
population will grow requiring some new machines over time. Officially
though, that time only occurs once every ten years after the census. I
think a number of these companies are going to fold.

3. However, as most HAVA money seems perishable I suspect a lot of states
will end up buying equipment from the big 4. I predict that there will be a
substantial after market in modifying these machines to run on open source
software and to produce paper ballots. This is where OVC comes in. We need
to become a R & D group and deemphasize product development for the near to
intermediate future. I believe there is still of work to be done on the
EVM. Also, we need to do a lot of human factor testing as well as
usability/reliability work. While we have a system that might be ready for
the mid 2005 certification cycle, I think we're only going to break our
hearts trying to make that date.

4. I think the earliest we should be looking at for having a product ready
is 2008 or 10. I'm confident that in 4-6 years a lot of voting registrars
will be looking for something better. Today they are probably being
pressured to 'do something' while counties can lay their hands on this HAVA
money. Quite a number of them will be pressured into buying something from
the big 4 on the basis of, "Hey, it's computerized. It's got to be better.
Yes, we understand your objections Ms. Secretary of State but we've got to
do something and these are better than nothing. We can't just walk away
from all that free money." After several problematic elections I'm sure a
lot of this equipment will be heading toward scrap heap. After all, how
long does computer hardware last? That's when we need to have our fully
worked out product, system and services. A lot of the myths about the
'evils' of paper ballots will have been clear dispelled by then.

5. In the meantime (and I am really out of my depth here) I'd propose a
project to look at adaptive reuse or rebuilding of the currently available
voting hardware to work natively under Linux and print ballots. I'd see
this as first a R and D effort and something that could be later spun off as
a small company. It may not actually be a cost effective approach but it
may provide valuable insight on how to make things better.

6. Not only do we need more funds, we need better public relations. A lot
of people have put out great ideas and I can't urge them enough to move
forward with them while reasonable asking for our support. Also, I think we
need to approach the computer equipment industry including the software
publishers and ask them for some sponsorships of their effort. It is in
their best interest to have a democracy that functions well.

    Now that I have stuck my neck out, you're all welcome to massage it.
Yes, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite throwing all these ideas out for
someone else to do, but please make what you can of it and forgive me the
rest.

Thanks, Ed Kennedy

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan Dechert" <alan@openvotingconsortium.org>
To: <voting-project@lists.sonic.net>
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 4:00 PM
Subject: Re: [voting-project] Donation plan?

> Jim,
>
>> How far could the project go with 1,000 donors who each do the $10/mo
>> pledge thing off the site?
>>
> I like this idea a lot. 1,000 "supporting members" would be great. That
> would certainly keep me in play for the foreseeable future.
>
> Moreover, if we were able to get 1,000... why not 10,000? 10,000
> supporting
> members would mean we could complete our mission without much
> institutional
> support. It would give OVC tremendous independence.
>
> We have a board meeting scheduled for Nov 11. How about this for a
> near-term campaign goal: "1111 by 11-11." (in other words, 1,111
> supporting memberships by Nov 11.)?
>
>> If that'll keep it afloat...you know who we need to pitch? Howard
>> Dean! That whole "Dean For America" structure still exists, Dean has
>> been concerned about Diebold and company...jeez, they raised what,
>> $3.5mil for his ass, OVC is a much better place to put money :) not that
>> we'd say that...
>>
>> Still, point is a Dean blog-link to OVC and a mention that this is
>> probably a good idea and...jeez, we're off and running!
>>
>> So who's got contacts with the major Deaniacs who could put a word in
>> Howard's ear?
>>
> I don't know anyone right off. Besides Deaniacs, there are other lists we
> could hit.
>
> If other people are willing to put some effort into this, I am certainly
> willing to work hard on this over the next couple of weeks. I'm not
> working
> on any other proposals right now! I think Laird could have a thermometer
> ready very quickly on the OVC home page.
>
> Who else could help with this?
>
> Alan D.
>
>
>
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Received on Mon Nov 1 15:28:47 2004

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