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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-03-04 12:21 PM
Original message
Project eVote. Need $, connections, techies, politicians, lawyers
Edited on Wed Nov-03-04 01:10 PM by stupidgit
Objective - a verifiable eVoting system, provided at cost to make it affordable for whoever wants to use it. We NEED this.

Although writing is my second vocation, what I really am is a software architect and multimedia engineer. I have nearly 30 years of software development experience, and have developed products that have sold worldwide in large quantities (no, I didn't get royalties, alas).

I was not heavily involved in following politics until the first gulf war, and my interest coalesced with the Clinton impeachment, and then the 2000 election debacle and certainly what happened afterward.

After the 2000 elections, I briefly gave thought to designing a eVoting system, but was not in a position to chase funding, and for personal reasons wasn't poised to embark on a venture, and other companies were already established in that field and had connections to get stuff to the field for the 2002 midterms, which I was not geared up to do.

During the initial design, though, it never once crossed my mind that it would even be conceivably acceptable to have a non-auditable voting system, especially after the 2000 election. For that reason, I was particularly appalled to find that places were not only installing machines with no paper trail, but the source code was kept private! This flies in the face of auditable democratic voting.

I have been fighting, in my own little way, to inform people through my website and through articles (DU and elsewhere) about what was going on in the world and this administration, trusting (hoping) the worst fears of eVoting were misplaced or overwrought and if we informed people and got them to the polls, democracy would take care of itself.

As we saw yesterday, with record turnouts, people voting at 3 a.m., and lots of eVoting problems, informing people is not enough if the vote is not counted. As Stalin(?) once said, it's not the vote that counts, it's who counts the vote.

WE NEED auditable eVoting. This democracy cannot survive without it, I believe that more than ever.

I am asking volunteers to join me in a project to fix this. is a startup organization to lead in this effort (do not hit up the site yet - it needs a few days to get active).

What kind of volunteers will we need?
- We will need funding. People who believe in democracy and can steer some money in that direction.
- We will need connections. People who can get machines accepted, out for trial, and so forth.
- We will need engineers. Software engineers, hardware engineers, network engineers, more.
- We will need politicians to lead the call for auditable evoting
- We will ultimately need public relations people and more.
- We will need lawyers - to help set up a non-profit, to help with nearly everything.

PLEASE email me to be involved, either here at DU or

In about 48 hours the address will be alive and I will post more information then.

Please give your comments.

Can you help?
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JM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 07:22 AM
Response to Original message
1. Please check out OpenVotingConsortium
Edited on Thu Nov-04-04 07:39 AM by JM

They already have a start on Open Source voting software. IMHO it is too early to tell if they are on the right track, but they are at least out of the gate.

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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 09:16 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. open source software
OR at least code that is reviewable by a non-partisan panel of software engineers IS the only way. Even a printed receipt isn't enough. You can program a machine to 'present' the correct results both on the screen AND in print form & then it can go and 'record' the vote another way. Printed receipts won't solve the problem. Programmers understand this. You can program a machine to 'audit' the vote every 10th prime number say, and then if it doesn't like the results, swich them. You can even program the machine to destroy it's own suspect code after the voting process. I'm not making this up - this is for real. Non-auditable e-voting machines are a grave threat to our democracy & the need to be rejected. Pressure needs to be put on those agencies that purchase these machines to require independent audits of the sofware and safeguards against software tampering up to the time of the vote.
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countryken Donating Member (37 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
11. State by state strategy
In Florida, the way to circumvent the state reps (who may be tainted by political donations) would be to propose a state constitutional amendment. We've had some silly ones, but it does become law of the land when approved by referendum. Other states may require a different strategy.

I would propose a series of very strict guidelines regarding any electronic voting machine, including open source code, version control, bipartisan and technically proficient auditors to review technical requirements, code, testing, change control, and security. A paper trail would be required of every transaction. The staffing would be independent of the governor's office and the secretary of state's office.

How would other states get this on the books?

(By the way, I know that a program can destroy itself, but if we ensure that the source code that we have just approved compiles into the identical executable code as the program in production, we'd be safe there.)
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mongo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #11
19. Do you have the verbiage of a proposed amendment?
I would be interested in starting a ballot initative in Ohio.
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TexasBushwhacker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 09:46 AM
Response to Original message
3. E-Voting that has no paper trail should be outlawed
Plain and simple. Eliminating the ability to audit simply makes fraud too easy.
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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 09:53 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. texasbushwhacker
I'm in Richardson Tx, formerly known as telecom corridor... I hated voting with these damn machines. An independant certifying authority for these crapola machines needs to be established. 'If you can't look at the source code - it doesn't get certified' If half the voters demand this - it will happen. This is a critical issue that pretty much renders all others moot b/c we know at what lengths these guys will go to win. They have no shame.
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GregD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 10:16 AM
Response to Original message
5. Sorry about being pessimistic, but
people (myself included) just spent the past 2 years bashing their heads against a variety of solid objects, and were unable to pass any meaningful reform regarding the e-voting. What makes you feel you can make a difference? Sorry, the Reublicans don't want a solution. The current system worked just fine for them... Yep, just fine indeed...

What I believe you should do before any effort is wasted on development (there are any number of solutions already under way) is to find a major source of reliable funds for media.

Your goal must be to gain such overwhelming popular support among CITIZENS that there is an existing demand for e-voting reform. THAT alone will be a significant contribution to democracy. If you then are in a position to deliver the actual technical solution, good for you.

I repeat: Your greatest concern should be the mobilization of PEOPLE DEMANDING CHANGE, through a MASS PUBLIC EDUCATION PROJECT, before you bother building a solution. Because in this NEW AMERICA your development efforts will be a waste of time unless you know you can get sufficient people behind you to drive the solution home. The current administration don't currently want to even hear about such a solution, and insufficient PUBLIC DEMAND exists to force it down their throats.
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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 10:35 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I totally agree
ProjectEVote is about lawyers, $$$, and lobbying. The technical end of it is secondary to building a consensus. Most people want to trust their government - and most don't have the technical background to understand just what blackbox voting can mean. Anything that serves to educate the electorate and help engender a justifiable skepticism about these machines is helpful. I think that most DU'ers think this e-voting is a scandal and need to focus on this issue with special attention. This should be a longterm media campaign.
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Avalux Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 11:33 AM
Response to Original message
7. we worked our asses off to GOTV
but that doesn't matter if when that button is pressed, what was selected isn't recorded, or recorded differently (pretty much what Stalin said). People will need to be educated. We can vote all we want on those machines, means nothing.

This project will have to be two-pronged. Fixing the problems and then educating the public.

For what it's worth, we are the only democratic nation in the world that doesn't use one standardized voting method. That needs to change too.

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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. you are correct...
the seeds of doubt (justifiable) need to be sown. We need to be relentless in the information campaign. They are high on the lie right now.
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 12:17 PM
Response to Original message
9. Some comments (nd new email address for project)
First, thank you for reading the post. Quick housekeeping note: please use from this point forward - it should work.

There is no official content at the site as of yet - literally this is an overnight thing (and I have regular work to do today!). This weekend should see a more official site ( ).

To the person who thought this is a wasted effort, I disagree. If our Founding Fathers just threw up their hands and say "oh, it's hopeless, they're too strong" then we wouldn't even have a country now.

I know some people have Been There and Done That, but there's a reason why it's different now. Everyone is alert and paying attention now. From George Soros on down, everyone's focused on changing the system. Lawyers volunteered to ensure a fair vote, people set up vote help lines. We might not have been able to get a lot of interest two years ago, but I think we're poised to tap into this now.

The Federal Elections part of the government is reluctant to set voting standards, because voting is really done at the state level.

So everything now is decentralized, and worse, since each state doesn't have their own system, they go back to a handful of companies for the technology, some of which doesn't have an audit trail!

Voting is not in the hands of the states - it's now shifted to the hands of private companies. At least with an audit trail the states can verify, but not with no audit trail - now we have to trust the companies only.

Project eVote is not just designing software. If the open vote consortium or someone else is along the way designing something, fine. I've designed enough software in my life. Just having software won't get us anywhere.

I'll flesh it out better over the weekend but here's a few tenets of the project:

- We need to set eVoting standards
- We need a system that is auditable and trustworthy
- We need a solution that is affordable to communities, so it needs to be provided by a non-profit organization, and we may need to design and provide hardware as well.
- We need people (politicians too) to insist that unauditable voting is NOT acceptable and to support eVoting standards.
- We need public relations people, and all that other stuff I listed.

A lot of people that vote have enough trouble using the remote on their television, much less know anything about computers. In fact, many were brought up to believe technology was infallible, that if it's a computer, it must be correct.

Well, they're not guaranteed correct. We need to be able to backtrack and prove they're safe.

Otherwise, you know what this is like? This is equivalent to everyone writing their vote on a postcard, mailing it to Diebold, and waiting for them to announce the winner.. Don't believe the results? Well, currently you have no choice.

You know, I have no idea whether or not the machines are perfectly accurate or if they're rigged or prone to tampering. But if there's a suspicion of such a thing, we currently ARE UNABLE TO PROVE IT, and that's either prove it right or prove it wrong. We can't prove anything period, we're just supposed to trust some private company that says to believe them. Our Founding Fathers would roll over in their grave if they heard about that.

So, Project eVote is a multie-part project.
- Work to insist all vote processes are auditable - that anything less is unacceptable.
- Work to develop eVoting standards and push to have communities adopt those standards.
- Work to develop or find an affordable and trusted solution or standard that communities can adopt.

Right now I'm looking to identify people that can make this happen; ultimately it will be a formal organization, funded, etc. We don't need funds right now, but we do need to get an idea of who's willing to consider funding it, lawyers willing to help get it together, politicians willing to endorse and push for it when we get to that point. There's so much more than just software.

If you can identify either yourself or someone else that should be contacted to be involved or as a potential help, please email

In the meantime, please continue this thread so as to help build exposure for this movement.


Tab Julius
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Avalux Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-04-04 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Kick!

Any idea how they're gonna vote in Iraq? lol
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Avalux Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 08:16 AM
Response to Original message
12. Morning Kick
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puddycat Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 10:43 AM
Response to Original message
13. I am solidly AGAINST any electronic /computer voting. Period. It sucks
This will be the end of our society, any kind voting which involves processes that the ordinary person can't control or understand. I don't want my fate in the hands of software engineers whether they are Democrat Republican or Independent.

My vote means nothing without a way to verify it. I voted on an electronic machine and there is NO way to ever verify that my vote was recorded, let alone what my vote was.
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. There's good kinds and bad kinds

I don't have a problem with eVoting per se, just the UNAUDITABLE kind. Those should be illegal.

You fill out a paper ballet, put it through a scanner - you still have the original ballot but also an electronic count of it. But if anyone ever questioned the scanner, you could go back and count the ballots by hand if you wanted to.


I've never heard of such a thing where people vote into a machine that says "okay, thanks - we'll tell you later who won" and you can't go back and check. Even now we have reports of machines that "lost votes" because they didn't have enough storage. Well, if each one also provided a paper trail or ballot, it wouldn't much matter if they "lost votes", because we could go back and count the ballots.

So, I don't care what the mechanism is, and eVoting is okay with me, but you have to be able to go back and audit the damned thing afterwards. How people are accepting unauditable machines is beyond me. I'm just appalled that they ever got into use at all.
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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. there's alot of chatter in the forums -
mostly hand-wringing about this. If an alternate product/solution is not presented (along with it's justification) to the purchasing authorities, they're going to go with what they have - DieBold and thier ilk. Disturbingly, in the NYTimes this am, excuses are already being made for the 'inaccurate' polling numbers. There already is a concerted effort by the mainstream press to play down these skewed results. We first need to make a case to the public that this is a PROBLEM and have some good numbers to back up that assertion.
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ironrooster Donating Member (273 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. you know - I would agree if that were possible...
Edited on Fri Nov-05-04 12:54 PM by ironrooster
but it's not. Evoting is coming whether we like it or not. There is no reason why the source code for these machines should be privately held. Look, I am a programmer and I hated voting on them b/c I know what kind of manipulations are possible. If you look around the forums, there are a number of techies of all types that have been saying the same thing - WE DON'T TRUST IT. I agree, but it's here to stay. This year 30% of the votes were cast using Evoting - and that percentage will grow. We have to encourage states and counties to purchase machines that provide a paper trail and an audit of the source code. If this doesn't work we might as well throw in the towel and become expats (if anyone will have us international lepers that we are). I serious about this - . America will not be a friendly place for the ideals we hold dear*. It is rapidly sinking into a fearful mindest that views everything progressive as EVIL. You know, my family are liberal Catholics (yes, we do exist) - we were always into the Social Justice aspects of Catholicism like Liberation Theology. Now Catholics have crawled in bed with Protestant fun-dies who secretly loathe us. I digress..., but I know some of these fun-dies and they wouldn't care if it were proven to them that the election had been rigged - they like it that way.

Separation of Church and State
Protecting a Woman's right to choose
Equal protection under the law for ALL CITIZENS
Decent and equitable public education
Clean water and land

Sands through my hand....
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. And that's what Project eVote is
And that's what Project eVote is

Two prongs

• Get people to demand auditable systems (and try to establish a standard)

• Develop a system that can be provided or licensed or something that is affordable.

Some places are warning of eVoting, some are making alternatives, but I don't see that it's all pulled together. I want to get that going.

This weekend I'm getting the preliminary site up and then we have to channel all this anger people have over the election into demanding auditable eVoting.

Again, nothing wrong with evoting except when there's no audit trail. That's inexcusable. And it's not even government computers, they're private companies! HELLOO??

I think there's a ton of pissed off Americans out there. I think we can leverage that.

- Tab
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puddycat Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Dumping Bill of Rights is progress? that's what eVoting does!
Edited on Fri Nov-05-04 03:47 PM by puddycat
We have to get back to a paper ballot. To sell-out to computerization is not progress, its a step back into total darkness. We must not allow computers to control us.

I'm seriously thinking of not voting again, if electronic touch-screens are all that are offered. My vote won't matter anyhow. I'll still work towards change, but why bother with a system designed so that ordinary people can't verify it?
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. We have to go state by state and get initiatives that demand
That any e Voting machines have:
Open source code
Independent third party verification of accuracy and reliability
Security (physical and version control)
a Voter Verifiable Paper Trail

Who can help write the verbiage and help collect the signatures?
Email ME
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-05-04 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. You may have missed the point.

The point of the project is to INSIST that there be a paper trail, and to provide a solution.

You need to be able to see, on paper, your vote. Those papers need to be available in case of a recount. That's what I'm talking about. Don't think I'm urging eVoting in its present form - far from it. But if you're going to have electronic tallies, you HAVE to have a paper trail.

For as long as there's been voting by machines, there's been interest in subverting them. Hell, even when people voted on paper, there could be ballot stuffing/stealing/whatever.

Machines aren't any worse as long as they provide a physical piece of paper you can lock up and go back to later.

eVoting in its present form doesn't give you that. So what we want to do is ensure there's a paper trail - require it. Machines are quite capable of printing paper. Maybe it's a piece you get and turn in by hand, maybe you just approve it before it drops in the box - whatever - but there has to be physical evidence you can trace back when needed, and it has to be evidence the user can look at and say "yep, it's correct" before they put it in the box.

- Tab
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puddycat Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-06-04 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. I see what you mean. There can be a paper trail with electronic machines
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Tab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-07-04 09:11 PM
Response to Original message
23. Community board up and open, starting to populate it
Please feel free to join in and visit the Bar & Grille and the Project eVote Objectives areas and start laying this out. We're also collecting news & articles, and just for fun, we've opened up an Orwell Room.

We need a comprehensive place to focus this fight. Join us!

- Tab
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