music, copyright, p2p, friends, iSchool

image of shipping envelopes Ryan got me turned on to lala which is a start-up that facilitates trading of audio CDs once you've become bored with them. It is one of a few new services that are trying to make money through sending entertainment-related physical media through postal mail. Essentially, they leverage the first sale doctrine in US law and provide a Netflix-like, peer-to-peer system where you ship CDs (with or without liner notes and art) to other lala users for one dollar. It's pretty neat, although still obviously in the beta phase, as Ryan points out. It's actually in private beta mode; they're about two or so months from launching publicly. Let me know if you'd want an invite when I get a few.

Voting Technology Suit in PA

elections, certification/testing, accessibility, litigation, policy, legal

A group of PA voters backed by PFAWF has filed suit (complaint in DOC) in federal court in Pittsburgh against local, state and federal officials for declaratory and injunctive relief. Claims include:

  • violation of rights under HAVA as not all voters will be able to use the iVotronic DREs (some will have to use optical scan equipment);
  • violation of due process under 14th A via purchasing flawed technology on the eve of a primary;
  • violation of equal protection under 14th A via not vetting the technology adequately that will result in Allegheny County voters votes counting differently than other PA counties;
  • violation of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act (different counts) via purchasing non-accessible DRE and optical scan equipment; and,
  • violation by federal officials of due process under 5th A for treating PA differently than other states (specifically NY) and forcing a rush to purchase equipment with HAVA money.

They're asking the Court to:

  • declare that the iVotronic and M650 machines are not HAVA-compliant, as described;
  • declare that the Secretary of the Commonwealth's certification of these systems is null and void because of the non-compliance;
  • preliminarily and permanently enjoin defendents from purchasing or using this equipment in elections for federal office;
  • preliminarily and permanently enjoin defendents from using any non-HAVA-compliant voting technology for federal elections;
  • preliminarily and permanently enjoin defendents from preventing the ongoing use of the existing lever system;
  • require DoJ officials to not sue or threaten suit if no new voting system is adopted for the May primary;
  • declaring that the use of lever machines in the primary provides no basis for DoJ officials to sue or threaten to sue in order to recoup HAVA money; and,
  • awarding attorney's fees.

Mac Screen Invert Shortcut Broken?


Anyone out there with an older mac (not the new intel ones): try to invert your screen with the old handy-dandy CMD-OPT-CTRL-8. It doesn't work on mine anymore after the latest system update. I can do it from System Preferences, but that's a serious pain in the ass compared to the keyboard shortcut. Ho hum.

UPDATE [2006-04-08T09:46:02]: Well, maybe Macs are starting to behave more like a Windows PC. None of the screen brightness keys or volume keys were working... then, after a shutdown and reboot, everything works again.

"Open Source" used in VT election, Cuyahoga fudges '04 recount


Like Ping, I also finished a submission to EVT on Monday evening... and my hands (RSI) still hurt! Naveen has said that all the rage over in CS are the Kinesis keyboards which have little "bowls" that your hands sit in; I'll have to save some money to get one of those (wouldn't it be nice if Berkeley had an RSI-prevention equipment matching program!).

I realized one thing while penning the 16-pager I submitted to EVT: in interdisciplinary forums, those who have citation-heavy writing styles actually have less space in which to write. I tend to write in a legal style where every single assertion must be cited to a source via a footnote. This results in some of my "pages" being half footnotes, just like a law review article. I guess, we should either develop some sort of citation to text volume metric and specify that you get more pages if you have more citations... or, I suppose, I could learn to write differently!!!

Anyway, in other voting news...

"Open Source" used in mayoral election in VT?

As your resident open source geek and researcher, I'd like to point out a curious article that came past my screen recently:

Successful Public Election Joins Diebold, Free [as in beer] Software

It appears that Burlington, VT, used DESI's AccuVote-TS terminals to record votes in a mayoral race and then used a disclosed source[1] application developed by Voting Solutions to do the calculations necessary for instant runoff voting (IRV). The code, called ChoicePlus, was disclosed and posted for review along with vote data (the code includes a proprietary Borland library which is licensed under terms that would preclude releasing the code under an OSI-approved license).

It appears that they used the resident DESI code to record the votes (and I'm not sure how if DESI's code doesn't support IRV in the interface and data structure) and then this guy's code to do the tallying of the IRV votes.

Of course, there's little chance a vendor or election official could do this in any of the 39 or so states that require federal certification as the Technical Data Package and such that would have to be submitted to the testing authority is highly proprietary; that is, they couldn't get federal certification for this kind of set up as I seriously doubt that DESI would cooperate enough such that all the information and accouterments would be in place to get certification.

[1] This is different from "open source"... I can elaborate.

Cuyahoga county did not follow post-election audit procedure

David Wagner sent the following article out:

Workers accused of fudging 04 recount

While there doesn't appear to be any evidence that these election workers intended to change the outcome of the election, they deliberately side-stepped post-election manual audit procedures. This is very important with computerized election machinery as frequently the only way you can tell that there has been some sort of malfunction or malfeasance is by comparing the machine count to a separate count. With VVPATs, this is especially important because any error could either be in the recording of the VVPAT or the electronic record. The fact that the election workers pre-selected the polling places to recount based on the fact that they wouldn't be discrepant is very disturbing. It also unfortunate that these election workers now face both misdemeanor and felony counts related to not following state election law to avoid the additional work that would have been required. Of course, if elections and election administration was properly funded, they would have had the staff to make following the law a cinch.

ITAs show up and speak...

elections, certification/testing, standards

Two of the three voting system ITAs showed up for a recent hearing by Senator Bowen. BBV has a transcript posted and here are some choice quotes:

"[W]hat we do is look at every line of code and at least make sure it meets every requirement within the VSS. And that is a limitation to some extent of what we're doing versus what I used to do in my IV&V days with the Department of Defense. We were chartered with finding all bugs, all defects period. Zero bugs, zero defects for every staged spacecraft software. We're not chartered with that here, we're chartered to show that the electronic voting system is a viable, qualified system that meets the requirements within the VSS. Is it completely bug free? My test engineers would love to have that charter, but we don't. We don't have that. We have to show that an electronic voting system can be used in a way that is outlined by the standards."
-- Brian Phillips, SysTest Labs.

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