IBM on Open Computing, Open Standards and Open Source Recommendation for Governments

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Fri Oct 29 2004 - 18:56:45 CDT

Here's a very nice presentation forwarded to me from the office of
Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg's office (the one that introduced ACR 242).
We intend to work on a bill that will require open source for election
software. IBM (and others) might be allies in this effort.

Is it feasible to get such legislation passed? How much work is involved in
doing that? How long will it take?

Before I tell you how it can be done, let me tell you a little about what I
did back in 2001. I spent a lot of time in the Capitol building in March,
April, and May of 2001 (I also made a few visits in JAN and FEB of 2001).

On JAN 17, I attended the assembly hearings on voting system issues (BTW,
that's the first time I met David Jefferson, who was testifying there). The
chair of the Assembly Elections committee was John Longville. His Chief of
Staff was Lloyd Levine. At one point toward the end of the hearings, Levine
introduced a salesman from Sequoia who proceeded to give a sales
presentation of a Sequoia touchscreen voting machine.

After talking some in JAN and FEB with some county elections people and some
people in the Secretary of State's office, I started canvassing the
legislators in March. I got to meet quite a few legislators and their staff
people. My meeting in Longville's office with Chief of Staff Levine lasted
about 2 hours and was fairly contentious. Levine was clearly pushing for a
touchscreen paperless DRE in every voting booth (as were several leaders in
the Assembly and SoS Bill Jones). At one point, I told him that paperless
voting machines would prove unacceptable and that I would work to make sure
of that. By the end of the meeting, his position had softened considerably.

My first real advocate in the legislator was Senator Perata, just before he
became chair of the Senate Elections committee. Perata's office introduced
me to Sandi Polka of Senator Burton's office. Sandi said "get an academic
partner" and suggested some names. I wound up partnering with UC Berkeley
Professor Henry Brady. Perata recommended our proposal for inclusion in the
state budget (didn't work out, obviously). Later he wrote this letter for

Eventually, Perata sponsored SB 1438 (requiring voter-verified paper record
of the vote ... Perata's co-chair of the Elections committee Johnson is
listed as Author) which passed only a couple of months ago -- 3.5 years
later. Notice the vote in the Assembly:

Levine is now Assemblymember Levine and he voted for it. So did Longville.

David Dill, Bev Harris, and others obviously helped bring this to fruition.
I did a lot of the spade work. OVC also helped to improve the wording after
a misleading definition of DRE creeped into the bill (thanks Joe Hall). I
also testified before the Senate Elections Committee along with Jim March,
Bob Kibrick (VerifiedVoting) and Bev Harris.

We had the truth on our side so we were bound to succeed even though the
opposition was pretty powerful. It took time, effort, and working together.
I can claim only a small part of the credit, and that's not really the
point. I saw it happen up close and personal. I know the same thing can be
done with the Open Source bill and that we can do the same thing in other

Regardless of HAVA deadlines or any other deadline, it should be done. It
will be done if we are committed to seeing it through.

Alan D.

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Received on Mon Nov 1 15:28:56 2004

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