[svlug] Please support open source resolution in CA senate

stripes stripes at tigerlair.com
Sun Jul 11 23:22:30 PDT 2004

Hi all,

ACR 242 requests the secretary of state to investigate and evaluate 
the use of open source software in for voting machines.

It's a long article, but given it's open source info forwarded from
the Linux folk in L.A., I thought I would forward this on.


----- Forwarded message from SMichelle <smichelle at livinglikeapenguin.com> -----

Very important issue for the health and saftey of the democratic voting

Write your political critter of choice to urge an open voting process
which ensures a auditable paper trail. Help stop corporate interests
from inserting themselves into the democratic process in the interests
of profit. It's your vote people, make sure that it counts :)


Begin forwarded message:

Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 22:58:53 +0000
From: rcdawson at att.net
To: lula at lula.org
Subject: [Lula] Please support open source resolution in CA senate.

Jackie Goldberg has managed to push Assembly Current Resolution 242
through the assembly.  ACR 242 requests the secretary of state to
investigate and evaluate the use of open source software in for voting

The resolution is now up for review in the Senate.  Letters and / or
emails to california state senators could help pass this resolution.

The resolution is only a tiny step, but at least in the right direction
It reads as follows:

WHEREAS, The State of California has a compelling interest to
ensure public confidence that election results are complete, honest,
and accurate; now, therefore, be it

   Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate
thereof concurring, That the Legislature hereby requests the
Secretary of State to investigate and evaluate the use of open-source
software in all voting machines in California and report his or her
findings and recommendations to the Legislature by January 1, 2006;
and be it further

   Resolved, That the Legislature is committed to exploring and
reviewing all available programs and features, including open-source
software, that may enhance the security of election results and
increase voter confidence in the integrity of the voting process; and
be it further

   Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of
this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

As I said, it's a tiny step, but certainly better than no step.  Voting
machines are a hot topic right not, and the application of open source
seems a no-brainer, even without considering the cost benefits.

Following is the letter I have sent to my senator, Debra Bowen, who was
integral in getting California legislation on line.  (Thanks to her -
and the technology - you can follow up on ACR 242 just by googling it.) 
Cut out the part about her involvement in software, and this letter
could probably go to any senator.  Your senator can be found at the
california legislators' website.  Just google in to it.  typically you
need to send email through their websites.  They often reject email sent

If you choose to respond, please let me know.

Rich Dawson    rcdawson at att.net

Dear Senator Bowen:

I urge your support for Assembly Concurrent Resolution 242, a resolution
requesting the secretary of state to investigate and evaluate the use of
open source software in California’s voting machines.  Open-source
voting machine software would give the state, and any interested
citizen, the opportunity to know exactly how voting machines tally the
vote and whether the records are suitably safeguarded and accurately

Being the person most widely credited with bringing California’s
legislature on line, I am sure that you are aware of the potential for
electronic voting machines, and perhaps one day the internet, to more
fully engage the population in voting.  At the same time, however, the
technology presents a new opportunity for abuse, particularly if the
software algorithims are proprietary and the details of data
manipulation are not disclosed.  

The open-source software concept is quite simple: Software algorithims
should not be secret; the software’s source code – that is the
human-understandable version of the software – should be published and
freely available.  The author’s intellectual property rights are
protected by copyright, but what the software actually does and how it
does it are open to inspection by anyone.  This concept seems
particularly appropriate for voting machine software whose operation
should be entirely transparent.

In addition to transparency, the use of open source software provides
the user with independence from the software provider, the ability to
customize applications for the state’s needs, and the opportunity to
engage California companies in technological growth.  Independence from
the software provider means both the ability to correct errors in the
software without waiting for the provider to respond and the freedom to
upgrade only when it is to the state’s advantage to do so.

Open source software is only a piece of the voting machine security
puzzle.  Voter verified paper records and appropriate security measures
are also necessary.  Open source software does not replace the need for
a voter verified audit trail, but it can be an element of improved
security as well as providing the direct benefits discussed above.

Open-source software offers significant benefits for virtually any state
software application.  In addition to transparency, open source offers
economy and an opportunity to bring software development home to
California, providing California citizens with employment and helping to
keep California at the forefront of the software industry.

Please advise me as to your position on this matter.


I would ask you to tell me if this is inappropriate for this list, but
I'm sure I will be informed if that is the case!

----- End forwarded message -----
I always said I wanted to be   (\`--/') _ _______ .-r-.
somebody. Perhaps I should      >.~.\ `` ` `,`,`. ,'_'~`.      
have been more specific.       (v_," ; `,-\ ; : ; \/,-~) \          
stripes at tigerlair dot com    `--'_..),-/ ' ' '_.>-' )`.`.__.') 
stripes at brickbox dot com    ((,((,__..'~~~~~~((,__..'  `-..-'fL  

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