. Open Voting Newswire | Open Voting Consortium

Open Voting Newswire

The Open Voting Consortium welcomes contact from concerned citizens that share our vision of a transparent and accountable voting system for the United States. Alan Dechert President, Open Voting Consortium alan@openvoting.org (916) 209-6620 If you prefer, you can use the form below to contact us. Help Open Voting: OVC is engaged in everything from developing software to lobbying for passage of Open Voting legislation and we need your political and monetary support. THANK YOU to everyone that has contributed so far. We appreciate your support very much. We will get there with your help. If you can, please donate now or get involved by volunteering!

Feed the OVC blogging machine - send us bloggable material!

Thanks for checking out the OVC blog. We're just getting up and running here, but we appreciate your interest. If you have any good items to blog about, please send them to us and we'll post them!

If you are interested in writing for the OVC blog, register for an account and then jot us a quick note letting us know who you are, and we'll get your account ready for blogging.

Contribute to OVC

OVC can no longer accept donations. Thank you.

Alan Dechert

Get Involved in Open Voting

Our election system has been stolen before our eyes. The news media refuse to cover it because they are bought and sold by the same corporate felons that are stealing our elections. Time to take grassroots action!
  • Lobby California legislators and the Governor to pass Open Voting legislation
  • Help bring an Open Voting forum to your area
  • Sign up for the OVC Speakers Bureau
  • Write letters or do guest editorials in local papers
  • Help organize local house parties or "meet-ups" to help raise money and awareness.
  • Support candidates running for office in 2006 that support Open Voting

How to Lobby

The “tricks of the trade” for persuading legislators are not a secret, but a tried and true formula. The OVC Activist Guide gives you everything from the essential Open Voting talking points to how to make an effective presentation. OVC will have exciting and very needed legislation in California in 2006 that will need your help. Sign up to join the team and lobby in Sacramento, via mail or email or at you’re the district office of your legislators.

Help Bring an Open Voting Forum to Your Area

We live in challenging times because critical issues like the integrity of the voting process are not covered in the mainstream media! You and your friends can help get the word out on problems with current voting systems and the Open Voting solution by hosting a forum. See our guide to learn how and call us for support. Also, see our discussion list.

Join the OVC Speakers Bureau

Are you a capable public speaker and ready to help take our election system back? Get in touch with OVC and volunteer and we will send you support materials and coordinate engagements for you in your geographic region.

OVC Supporters

The Open Voting Consortium has won support from a wide spectrum of election experts, elected officials, voting rights activists and people concerned about the future of Democracy throughout the world. Send us your picture and a statement of why you support OVC and join our gallery.

Eva Patterson, President, Equal Justice Society

Eva Jefferson Paterson has campaigned for civil rights with passion, courage and tenacity for more than three decades.

Paterson is the President and a founder of the Equal Justice Society, a national organization dedicated to changing the law through progressive legal theory, public policy and practice.

Prior to taking the helm of the Equal Justice Society in 2003, Paterson worked at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights for twenty-six years, thirteen of them as Executive Director. Paterson led the organization's work providing free legal services to low-income individuals, litigating class action civil rights cases, and advocating for social justice. At the Lawyers' Committee, she was part of a broad coalition that filed the groundbreaking anti-discrimination suit against race and gender discrimination by the San Francisco Fire Department. That lawsuit successfully desegregated the department, winning new opportunities for women and minority firefighters.

Ion Sancho, Election Commissioner, Leon County, Florida

Our Mission and Key Players

The Open Voting Consortium is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of trustable and open voting systems for use in public elections. We are comprised of computer scientists, voting experts, and voting rights activists. We have a growing international membership base, but our organizing efforts are currently focused in California where we are actively engaged in legislation and implementing Open Voting as a model for the United States.

The founders of OVC are computer engineer Alan Dechert, database and election systems expert Dr. Arthur Keller, and computer science professor Dr. Doug Jones. They have worked collaboratively with experts from throughout the world to examine every aspect of voting scientifically and advance needed reform so that confidence can be restored in American elections. Many of these experts now serve as advisors or on the OVC Board of Directors. In sum, OVC has the brain power and computer programming talent to develop open source software codes and a comprehensive data base and check list for electoral accountability. Now all we need is your support!

Open Voting Solution

The team of computer scientists that heads OVC is working on all aspects of the voting problem in the United States and, with your support, we can get this system built, certified and implemented in California by 2008! Because open source software programming costs will have been paid, public ownership would allow the spread to other states rapidly and at a very low cost. OVC is also interested in helping make sure that what happens after everyone votes is secure (Download and print our brochure explaining the Open Voting concept).

Specter of Stolen Elections Creates Crisis

Beginning with the Presidential election in 2000, voters across the nation have been losing faith that the electoral system is fair and that candidates chosen to serve have been honestly elected. What you will find below are reports, many by scientific experts and from federal and state government, that chronicle hundreds of problems with the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the deficiencies of current electronic voting systems and provide proof that our election system is in crisis. The problem centers around five key issues:

Black Box Voting Secrecy: Computer programs or software that run election machines and tabulate results are secret and cannot be checked by the public. This invites corruption and there is currently no way to assure accountability.

Corporate Control: Large corporations like Diebold and ESS dominate electronic voting machine sales and control our voting software, have strong influence over processes for approving machines and control over whether testing results are even shared.

No Paper Trail: Electronic voting terminals became popular after the hanging chad scandal in the 2000 Presidential election, but many machines purchased since then have no paper ballot, which makes accurate recounts impossible. Of votes cast in the November 2004 election, 30% were on machines that couldn't be audited!

No Consistent Data to Check Results: There are 185,000 voting precincts in the U.S. and 800,000 voting machines in place, but systems consist of technology cobbled together to minimally meet a patchwork of inconsistent requirements.

Voting Access: Older style voting terminals posed major problems for the handicapped or the sight impaired. Touch screen voting systems partially remedy this problem, but introduce a whole host of other problems.

Open Source Voting: Accurate, Accountable

Ruben Major for Sec of State

Open source voting has been taken up by Ruben Major, running for California Secretary of State 2018. Alex Padilla, current SoS, made the case for replacing the current ageing fleet of voting systems but has failed to secure funding for new ones and has not promoted the obvious solution: open source voting. Secretary Major will do this. You can help ensure this outcome.

Current Efforts

OVC's three founders, Alan Dechert, Arthur Keller, and Doug Jones continue to work on the issue of voting system integrity. Doug Jones (with Barbara Simons) wrote Broken Ballots. Arthur Keller is chair of the IEEE 1622 standards committee. Brent Turner is currently board secretary at CAVO (California Association of Voting Officials).

Recent News & Events

OVC Cited in Recent GAO Report on Security in Electronic Voting Systems

From: Open Voting Consortium

The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) issued their report (GAO-05-956) to Congress on the security of electronic voting systems.

Generally, it's a good report and we're pleased to see it. It affirms that there is a lot of work needed to improve the voting system, and OVC is recognized as working to "Improve Voting System Security and Reliability."

On the down side, the lack of transparency is not seen as a major problem in the report. However, the GAO defers to the EAC for immediate action on standards to improve the current election systems.

The GAO report says Open Voting Consortium, "Developed a prototype for an open-source electronic voting application that uses commercial hardware and operating system components and provides (1) an electronic voting machine that prints a paper ballot, (2) a ballot verification station that scans the paper ballot and lets a voter hear the selections, and (3) an application to tally the paper ballots."

Voting Software Open Test Now Law in Illinois Could Set Precedent

From: Open Voting Consortium (Alan Dechert)

A bill that requires that "all test plans, test results, documentation, and other records used to plan, execute, record the results of the testing and verification" was signed into law on AUG 22nd by Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich (Dem).

OVC supporters in Illinois have already made requests for the URL where they can download the materials.

The part of interest to Open Voting is a just a few lines -- but potentially very powerful. The relevant section of HB1968 is on page 186, lines 19 through 25, and it reads as follows:

19 All test plans, test results,

WikiFund Launched -- OVC One of the Projects to be Funded

The next Revolution will be Economic…

And we’ve just seen the 2005 Molotov Cocktail deluxe. Masquerading as a low key fundraising website, Wikifund.org puts some serious fiscal firepower in the hands of us average folk. The first thing you notice when browsing the site is the number of zeroes. There are some big projects being funded, some of which could affect the course of entire countries. For example, the Open Voting project: Wikifund has teamed with the Open Voting Consortium (http://openvoting.org) to get a secure, verifiable, open source voting system nationally certified. The cost? A cool million in software development, testing, and certification fees. The ramifications of this project are huge. Not only would it restore confidence in our democratic system, but it would actually save taxpayers billions in equipment cost alone. Why? Aside from being completely free (BSD Licensing), the software would run on any platform, making it possible to use use commonly available hardware. Not only that, but it would be practical to manufacture dedicated hardware for a fraction of the $3000+ companies like Diebold are charging.

OVC Adopts Best Available Free Software License

From: Open Voting Consortium

At our board meeting last week (SEP 15), the Open Voting Consortium (OVC) voted to use modified BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) for software developed by OVC.

This decision was made after much research and deliberation over the last two years. The demo (prototype) software developed by OVC used a custom modifed GPL (General Public License).

OVC board member and University of Illinois law professor Peter Maggs voted in favor of the resolution stating that he was against creating a new license. His viewpoint is consistent with input from many other sources. The resolution was introduced by David Mertz, OVC VP and Chief Technical Officer.

E-voting vent: You can't tell if it worked

by Paul Andrews
The Seattle Times

By most indicators, Frank Love Elementary School in Bothell was just another suburban voting location last week.

Makeshift "Polling Place" signs and storybook paw prints in blue paint marked the path to the school library, which housed six voting booths. The room was quiet and orderly, and poll personnel were helpful and personable.

Still, Fred McLain had to figuratively hold his nose when he cast his ballot Tuesday morning. McLain voted using a computer equipped with a touch screen, but it lacked any method for him to confirm that his vote had been recorded properly and counted correctly.

Corporate Control of the Election Process

By John Gideon
www.VotersUnite.Org and www.VoteTrustUSA.Org

Those who hold the sacred trust of overseeing the election procedures and voting systems in this country are an alphabet-soup of organizations. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS); the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED), the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC); the Election Center. What do these groups have in common? They either receive their funding from the vendors or are greatly influenced by those who do receive funding from the vendors. We can only hope that the EAC can resist the influence. The others haven't.

Open Voting: The Key to Verifiable Elections

by Alan Dechert and David Mertz, Ph.D.

We citizens often see billion-dollar government contracts turn on a single vote in a city council. Lives, careers, and large amounts of money are routinely at stake in local elections. At State and Federal levels, the stakes are even higher. The future of our country and democracy itself is continually at risk. With so much at stake, how likely is it that cheating will occur?

Throughout American history, voting systems have evolved [1] as measures were taken to thwart cheaters. This has been an uneven process, sometimes utilizing inappropriate technologies. Punch cards, for example, were an aging holdover of an earlier computer age when they were widely used for voting in 2000.

Failing the Electoral Standards

by ANDREW GUMBEL
The Nation

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has been monitoring elections in emerging democracies ever since the fall of the Berlin wall, but now it has done something different and uniquely controversial. It has turned its attention to the United States, issuing a report that highlights numerous areas in which this past November's presidential and Congressional elections failed to meet international standards.

One would have thought the voter reform movement in this country would jump at the chance to see the United States judged by the same criteria as Ukraine, Georgia or Kyrgyzstan--especially since the report finds it badly wanting. Here, in black and white, is authoritative proof that the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, the uneven rules applied to provisional balloting, the unreliability of voter registration procedures and the dual role of election supervisors who also help run partisan political campaigns are not merely objectionable but also violate international norms to which the United States, as a participating member of the fifty-five-nation OSCE, is a leading signatory.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Medea Benjamin and Bob Fitrakis Endorse OVC!

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA- On February 27 Congresswoman Maxine Waters spoke at the “Who Got Glitched and How Do We Fix It” Teach-In organized by Citizens Act. “We can have no voting machine that does not have a paper trail!” she proclaimed to the crowd. After her talk Open Voting Consortium Director of Development Lara Shaffer spoke with her about the Open Voting Consortium’s open voting system which includes a voter verified paper ballot summary that counts as the vote and runs on open source software.

Shaffer also spoke with Bob Fitrakis, reporter for Freepress.org and one of the four lawyers who filed the Moss v. Bush lawsuit that drew national attention to the problems with the 2004 General Election in Ohio. “I looked at your brochure and think it’s a good system,” he said. He signed the endorsement statement as did Medea Benjamin, Founding Director of Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org) and co-founder of Code Pink.

United Voters of New Mexico Rally for Paper Ballots and Automatic Recounts

From: Open Voting Consortium

On Wednesday, February 23, United Voters of New Mexico, a coalition of many election reform groups in New Mexico met with the press and lobbied their legislators. Their goal was to get a senate bill introduced that would require New Mexico to have voter verified paper ballots (where the ballot becomes the official record of the voter’s intent to do audits and recounts with) and an automatic audit after each election. “Seventy people lobbied their legislators and the legislators seem to be listening to us,” said Wayne Burke, organizer of United Voters of New Mexico. United Voters of New Mexico will now work closely with legislators on the language of the bill and work to get it passed before the legislative session ends March 17th.

Pacific Research Institute ranks speed ahead of accuracy in tallying people's votes

From: Senator Debra Bowen's Office

Contact: Evan Goldberg (916) 651-4028

SACRAMENTO – Despite the fact that 52% of the people in America aren’t confident that their votes are being accurately counted, the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) has come out and blasted the use of an accessible voter-verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT) in California elections.

“It takes the term ‘tone deaf’ to a whole new level,” said Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee. “Given the scandals involving electronic voting machines and the rising number of California voters who are losing faith in the system, how anyone can come out and say with a straight face, ‘Let’s trust the voting machine vendors, they know what they’re doing’ is beyond me.”