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San Francisco or New York -- which will be first with open source voting system?

By       Message Alan Dechert     Permalink
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Dear Friends of Open Voting:

San Francisco officials have voted several times in favor of open source where the issue has come up this year. Now, New York City has a proposal on the table which strongly favors open source for voting systems.

This resolution even goes so far as to quote Richard Johnson, CEO of Open Voting Solutions (and resident of NY). It looks like this is moving in the right
direction. One-third of the City Council signed on as sponsors the day it was
introduced. Congratulations to our friends in New York for getting this far
with the idea.

Here's a link to the resolution:
http://webdocs.nyccouncil.info/textfiles/Res%200961-2007.htm?CFID=191005&CFTOKEN
=39046642


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I have the whole resolution copied below:

<<<<<<<<<<
Res. No. 961

Resolution urging the New York State Board of Elections to promptly commission the development of a Precinct Based Optical Scan voting system that would comply with New York State voting system standards, which would be owned entirely by the State of New York and would be certified for use by the county Boards of Elections and by the Board of Elections in the City of New York.

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By Council Member Mealy

Whereas, Public confidence in the outcome of elections depends, in
part, on the use of voting equipment that is under full public control and not
under the control of private corporations, which have no responsibility or
accountability to the public; and

Whereas, In 2005, the New York State Legislature enacted the
Election Reform and Modernization Act (ERMA) in order to comply with the Federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), ERMA requires county boards of election to select new voting technology to replace the currently used mechanical lever machines; and

Whereas, Many computer technologists urge that all software in any
voting or vote-tabulating system be Open Source Software; and

Whereas, Open Source Software is software that: (i) is freely available for any member of the public to read and evaluate, free of charge; (ii) is easy to obtain, (iii) can be copied, used, modified, and distributed but not sold; and (iv) the open source voting system is currently in development by citizens eager to provide an alternative to commercially produced voting systems; and

Whereas, The use of Open Source Software has not been possible to
date in New York State because all of the private manufacturers and vendors of the computerized voting equipment that may ultimately be certified for purchase by New York counties require certain protections for their software in their contracts of sale that prevent the public from being able to freely read and critique the software; and

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Whereas, In addition, these private manufacturers and vendors require on-going payment for the use of their equipment, which in some cases can
double the purchase cost of equipment within a few years of purchase; and

Whereas, These private manufacturers and vendors have had multiple problems, including delivery of non-working equipment, a history of high
equipment failure rates, and legal disputes with jurisdictions in which the
vendors have claimed ownership of voting data after the jurisdictions purchased and used their equipment; and

Whereas, New York has two alternatives to the purchase of Precinct
Based Optical Scan (“PBOS”) voting systems with “secret” software from private manufacturers and vendors: (1) New York could commission the development of a PBOS system to be used throughout the state, or (2) New York could accept a free, completely Open Source system that runs on Commercial-off-the-Shelf (“COTS”) laptops, scanners, and printers; and

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Alan Dechert is the CEO of Open Voting Consortium.

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