About Open Source Election Technology

Has a nice sound, doesn’t it?  But it’s more than just a sound bite.  Its real stuff people can see, touch, and try.  And here is why.

The OSET Institute is all about researching, developing, and making innovative elections software publicly available (open source technology subject to an OSI-accredited license) in order to increase verification, accuracy, security, and transparency (in process), and ensure that ballots are counted as cast. 

This public benefit work is all about increasing integrity in elections, while lowering costs, improving usability, and easing participation.

The OSET Institute was established in November 2006 by a couple of concerned technologists in the Silicon Valley as a California non-profit corporation dedicated to the public benefit.  Originally, and until 2013 the organization was known legally as the Open Source Digital Voting (“OSDV”) Foundation and its name evolved in October 2013 following the IRS final determination of our tax-exempt status after a record-breaking six (6) year prosecution of our status application.  In late 2015, "Foundation" became "Institute" to reflect the reality that OSET is focused on education, research, and development of election technology innovation (and actually, we are not a grant making organization.)  You can learn some more about our history here.

About Our Mission

The mission of OSET, a nonprofit election technology research institute, is to increase confidence in elections and their outcomes in order to preserve the operational continuity of democracy -- ultimately worldwide -- and because everyone deserves a better voting experience.  These principles guide our work.

The result, ElectOS, a Framework of public election technology freely available for any jurisdiction to adopt, adapt, and deploy for elections whether done in-house or by an outside commercial systems integration organization (not us).  

We use the principles of open source development, user-centric design, and high assurance systems engineering in a meritocratic environment at the TrustTheVote Project.  

This is an imperative effort to ensure integrity and increase confidence in our public elections, and reduce if not eliminate the troubles with voting machinery, while removing unfortunate terms like "rigged," "tampered," "hacked," or "illegitimate" from the vernacular of democracy administration.

Here’s the thing: The means by which we cast and count our ballots is tantamount to "critical democracy infrastructure" and as such cannot be a black box, but rather a glass box.  And success of this project can increase confidence in elections and their outcomes, for America at least, and for any democracy, worldwide over time.

About Our Organization

The OSET Institute is a California non-profit corporation exempt from Federal income taxation under IRC Section 501(c)(3).  A Board of Directors governs the nonprofit organization.

Board of Directors

Strategic Board Advisors

  • Chris Barr, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • Jake Braun, CEO, Cambridge Global Advisors
  • Deborah Bryant, Redhat
  • Aneesh Chopra, Former U.S. CTO; NavHealth
  • William P. Crowell, Former Dep. Dir. NSA; Alsop Louie Partners
  • Dr. Rich DeMillo, Georgia-Tech
  • Frank DiGiamarinno, Accelerated Ventures
  • Joseph Hall, CTO, Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Phil Keisling, Former Oregon State Secretary
  • Doug Maughan, DHS Cybersecurity Directorate
  • Lenny Mendonca, Former McKinsey & Co., Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
  • Norm Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute
  • Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org
  • Barbara Simons, Former IBM; Verified Voting Foundation
  • Stephanie Singer, Former City Commissioner, Philadelphia, PA; Free & Fair
  • Heather Smith, Rock The Vote
  • Bryan Sivak, Former CTO, DHHS
  • Theresa Swinehart, ICANN
  • Joe Trippi, Trippi & Associates
  • David R.R. Webber, Horizon Industries, Ltd. Manchester, England U.K.

A Stakeholder community comprised of a number of different constituent categories guides our work.  The majority of stakeholders are state and local elections officials—those who stand to directly benefit from the results of our work.  

We utilize a process equivalent to that of the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) called “Request for Comments” (or “RFC”).  We maintain an RFC Library online and this serves as our primary communications means with our stakeholders. Here is an example RFC.  Stakeholders (or anyone) can read, review, and comment on our design work and help us refine and tune it to their exacting specifications.

More information can be found in our Public Documents section of this site.  And more information is available on our Brief History section and in our Public Relations section.