Felten: LAMP and Regulatory Arbitrage

music, copyright, hacks, chilling effects, p2p

Link: http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/archives/000706.html

From an engineering standpoint, the new design of LAMP is overly complex, fragile, and inefficient. That's not surprising, because lawyers must have had a big impact on the design.

There's got to be a market in regulatory arbitrage... that is, maybe the "innovation" now is in how to satisfy the lawyers (notably your lawyers) in designing things and make them sexy enough for the market to chip in. LAMP isn't sexy, but it has satisfied MIT's lawyers!

Quick News: new CSS and new paper

system, elections, accessibility, reform, open source, politics

A couple quick news items:

  1. We just submitted a paper I co-authored (in collaboration with the folks at the OVC), "A PC-Based Open-Source Voting Machine with an Accessible Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballot" (PDF), to the USENIX 2005 FREENIX track.
  2. You may have noticed that I've significantly modified the skin for N.Q.B. The image in the header is an amulet I have of a Tibetan Kartika hatchet, used in ritual buddhist sky burials (which the Chinese occupation regulates). The knife represents the disintegration of the material and severing of worldly bonds while the dorje structure, on top, is meant to destroy ignorance and lead to enlightenment.

Autumn Moon Festival...

San Francisco, photos

Link: http://www.moonfestival.org/

Michelle and I recently went to San Francisco's Autum Moon Festival... our favorite part is, of course, the yearly acknowledgment that lotus moon cakes are they best (although we prefer the flaky-dough over cakey-dough variety.).

Here's a bunch of photos...

Full story »

Serious Ballot Usability Problem in Ohio

elections, news, wtf?, problems

Link: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/O/OHIO_VOTING?SITE=OHCOD&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

The problems in Ohio continue. There is a serious problem with the punchcard ballot design layout for absentee ballots in Cleveland, Ohio.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Absentee voters in the most populous county of a critical state in the presidential election are complaining about a ballot layout that they say might prompt some people to choose the wrong candidate, or none at all.


The absentee voting problem in Cuyahoga County occurs when voters align the ballot portion, which shows a candidate's name, a number and an arrow, with the punch card, which also bears numbers. The pieces are designed to align in the voting machines used on Election Day, but the numbers don't always line up for people voting absentee.

How bad is the problem? Bad. Very bad. In fact, it would be difficult to screw it up worse. Here's the ballot (image is from this archive of the absentee ballot):

screwed up OH absentee punchcard ballot

Note how the alignment of the Kerry and Peroutka selections are fine. The Bush and Badnarik ones are totally screwed up! And, they've even left a disqualified candidate on the freakin' ballot. WTF?

Ways the election could end up in the supreme court...


Link: http://www.electoral-vote.com/oct/oct21.html

  1. Voting glitches involving electronic or other voting machines
  2. Litigation over which provisional ballots are valid
  3. A fight over the Colorado amendment to split the electoral vote
  4. A tie in the electoral college or a faithless elector
  5. A terrorist attack that disrupts voting in a swing state
  6. Non-counting of absentee votes of overseas voters that arrive late via snail mail

Here's more:

Tuesday I cited Richard L. Hasen on five ways this election could end up in the Supreme Court. Let me now add a sixth way. Today salon.com reported massive snafus with getting absentee ballots to the estimated 4 million American voters overseas. The office in charge of helping overseas Americans to vote is totally ineffective. In 2000 it was excoriated by the GAO for losing thousands of overseas votes. It now appears to be doing its best to make sure the 10% of overseas Americans who are in the military (and largely Republican) can vote while ignoring the 90% who are civilians and who hear about America's loss of respect in the world daily and are much more likely to want to replace George Bush. The office is dawdling about putting the emergency write-in ballot on its website, so Americans overseas who need one should get it from their consulate or embassy. The case which may well hit the Supreme Court will revolve about a simple question: Can a county send a voter his absentee ballot by snail mail to a far-away country a couple of days before the election and then refuse to count it because it came back after the deadline?

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