|Santara Clara, California -- The Open Voting Consortium will demonstrate a version of its free election software on April 1 in Santa Clara County, Calif. The Open Voting Consortium intends to make free voting software available for use in public elections to begin a process founders hope will transform the voting system from a fraud-prone, blackbox, proprietary, expensive, unreliable system to a technically sound, accurate, secure, inexpensive, uniform and open voting system.
An international team of volunteer scientists and engineers developed the demonstration system. Jan K?rrman of Sweden, a senior research engineer at Uppsala University, says that the role of the United States internationally ''makes it important, outside the U.S. as well, that fair elections are being held there.''
Fred McLain, a noted computer security expert from Washington, has served as the lead developer over the past two months. ''I am very pleased with the outstanding contributions of this worldwide group of contributors. In a short period of time, they have created a ballot system with a paper trail, an outstanding verification system and allow for vision-impaired users as well,'' McLain said.
A simulation of the poll-site voting machine is available on the Internet. Users can print the same ballot as with the standalone voting machine, or they can view the ballot on the screen.
''Voters should not be fooled into thinking their vote is secure with paperless electronic voting machines. We need a system like the Open Voting Consortium is developing that produces a paper ballot that voters can see, touch and verify before placing in the ballot box,'' according to Arthur Keller, who teaches computer science at University of California, Santa Cruz, and serves as vice president of the Open Voting Consortium.
Professor Douglas W. Jones, a University of Iowa computer scientist, agrees: ''It's too easy to fool with a purely electronic record. We need a physical token to represent the vote so that it can be checked by ordinary human beings. We also want a system where all aspects of the system are open to public inspection so we can be sure everything is above board.'' Jones is also the chief technology officer and vice president of the Open Voting Consortium.
''We are not in favor of having a public process run by private companies that want to keep everything a secret,'' says Alan Dechert, president of the Open Voting Consortium. ''It was wise to commit serious funding to modernize the voting system. But it would be foolish to spend all the money on immature technology that will be obsolete in a few years. We advocate spending a small percentage of this money on a comprehensive scientific research and development project that will give us the best possible voting system.''
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) earmarks nearly four billion dollars for voting modernization. Over $1.5 billion has been appropriated for this fiscal year.
''We are working with universities in several states to get this project launched. Iowa State University and the University of California are leading the way, with strong teams developing in Illinois and Nevada, so far,'' said Dechert.
The Open Voting Consortium is a nonprofit California corporation dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for use in public elections.
For more info visit http://www.openvotingconsortium.org
Download the software: http://sourceforge.net/projects/evm2003
Test a demo site: http://gyaku.pair.com/~vote/ballot2.html