What if...


What if the bush administrations horrible response to Katrina was actually a brilliant Rovian strategic move?

That is, non-profit and public interest organizations that are not in the business of relief are really really hurting right now. Donations have taken an amazing downturn and some organizations are really feeling the hurt. By sapping charitable giving from other areas and concentrating it in a few organizations (like the Red Cross, etc.) that will burn through it fast and not spend it on advocacy efforts, this could be quite a brilliant strategic move.

Now that's depressing.

Documents surface in NC with Diebold and Gaston Co.

elections, vendors, hacks, wtf?, politics, problems, litigation, research, policy, legal

This document (from Joyce McCloy of NCVV) is fascinating.

It is an exchange between an attorney at Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (DESI) and the general counsel for the North Carolina State Board of Elections. It mostly centers around a few incidents that occured in Gaston Co., NC. It is a great illustration of a number of worrying characteristics of the vendor/jurisdiction relationship typical of modern election systems.

Three incidents are of particular note:

  1. In one city, Dallas, NC, a bug appears to have prevented the downloading of 11,945 votes which wasn't caught for seven days. At which point, it appears the county compared paper print-outs from the precinct with the totals reported by the tabulation server. A DESI technician reproduced the bug twice and then decided to forgo usual DESI protocol and loaded the flash-based memory packs directly into the central (GEMS) server to retrieve the votes from the memory pack.

  2. In another case, another memory pack "failed to download" and the DESI technician got approval to send a back-up file electronically to DESI technicians who then emailed the results back. After writing this data to a memory pack, the on-site technician loaded them into the central server via a tabulator unit.

  3. Finally, the document describes hand-entering of "three to five" ballots. DESI claims as a "check and balance" this process doesn't allow the technician to enter more votes than the total vote count (that is, the number of valid plus spoiled ballots). This would implicate that one would be prevented from entering more than a certain number of votes, but, of course, does nothing to constrain what votes are entered. A human looking over the technician's shoulder is the only other constraint.

I've posted more below the fold:

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picture of betty crocker blueberry muffins

I've eaten four of these already.

ACCURATE's comments to the EAC on 2005 VVSG

system, elections, certification/testing, accessibility, reform, vendors, standards, SIMS, berkeley, problems, research, policy, usability, legal

Here is the 50-page document that has been ruling my life (and the lives of a few others) for the past month:


This is ACCURATE's comments on the 2005 VVSG to the EAC. Enjoy. I'll return to this later today or tomorrow to explain a bit under the fold.

Organizations endorsing our comments include the CVF, EFF and VVF.

Rob Lemos at SecurityFocus has penned an article on our comments with a focus on open source: "E-voting experts call for revised security guidelines"

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Report from ?Making a Business on Free Software?

open source, berkeley

(This is cross-posted to the OSDDDI blog)

I attended the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum's (BEF) session entitled "Open Source: Making a Business on Free Software" last night (Note: this is not the Stallman-sense of "free software").

The panel included chair Philippe Cases (General Partner of Partech International), Zack Urlocker (Marketing VP for MySQL), Jacob Taylor (CTO and Co-Founder SugarCRM), Paul Doscher (President & CEO Jaspersoft) and Allan Leinwand (Operating Partner at JP Morgan Partners).

I'm going to paraphrase the extensive notes I took in this post. It was a pretty fascinating event; both in substance and in a cultural-sense. (Since this post is rather long, I'm going to include the rest below the fold.)

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