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Avante's (Not Very Good) Offer to New York Voters

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“Comply with the law, or take your business elsewhere” is an excellent response to a vendor who essentially said to New York - take my business on my terms or we vendors may not want to do business with you, New York. After choosing to ignore New York’s 2005 law requiring voting vendors to place the source coding for the software that runs their voting systems into escrow with the State Board of Elections (SBOE), Avante has the gall to make this disingenuous argument in which it purports to blame New York for Avante’s refusal to comport with our Law.

 

 

 

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The source coding for the software for the operating system itself as well as the election management system (EMS), which contains the software that actually tabulates the vote, is claimed to be secret, proprietary information by these private corporations that think it’s OK for such essential information to be concealed from the public- whose elections these are, after all. Under New York’s law, at least the SBOE is required to view this source code (even as we the public are left in the dark); hence the escrow requirement. Now that New York is preparing to restart testing voting systems Avante, a vendor who never had any intention of complying with NY’s escrow laws, argues at the 11th hour that our Law is so unfair (to Avante) that it deserves to be violated!

 

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Well that’s a fairly outrageous position (unless you believe that NY laws should be written for the benefit of private voting vendors rather than the citizens of NY). Indeed it would be hard to come up with a more un-American argument than: I, Avante, want to make sure that no one ever sees how our computers process and count the votes of New Yorkers so New York should disregard its law and allow us to keep this vital information concealed! And yet that is precisely what Avante is demanding.

Well one can’t really argue something quite so treasonous to the very notion of democracy so Avante creates a specious argument to hide behind by extending NY’s Law to an illogical conclusion. Avante argues that under the statute vendors would be required to escrow not only the source coding for the software of the voting system (the software that configures and controls the election day tabulation and accumulation of election results), but the source code for the hardware as well, knowing that no one could ever meet the requirement for the latter since suppliers of off-the-shelf-hardware (i.e., the scanner or printer) won’t provide same. Therefore Avante concludes that if all the source code for both the software that actually determines the processing and tabulating of the vote, as well as for the lower level firmware coding (firmware is the source code embedded in a hardware device) can’t be made available to be escrowed, than none of the source code should be escrowed—even the critical source code which would permit the SBOE to determine how the computer was programmed to process and count votes! This is Avante’s all or nothing position.

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Andi Novick Election Transparency Coalition, www.etcnys.org, http://nylevers.wordpress.com/

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