Wow.  How time flies.  Its our birthday this week (Monday the 17th to be precise; it was a Friday in November 2006.)  We are 8-years old!  You know, that's a long life by the measure of most commercial technology ventures.  But a bit different as a non-profit technology venture. So, we wanted to post something today in honor of our birthday and the progress we've made.  That's below.

First, reflecting on our 8-years, for readers who have followed our chronicles here, you know that six years and seven months of that eight years was spent in a purgatory of sorts.  We were waiting on the IRS to complete their intellectual naval-gazing about whether our mission rose to the level of a true public benefit, let alone a charitable one (including, but not limited to a "lessening of government burden.")  Well, of course they finally did determine we are a charitable cause, in the latter part of last year 2013. Today, we are officially recognized as a tax-exempt non-profit public benefit corporation. 

So, on the one hand it would seem that much of our life time has been spent in a record-setting IRS prosecution.  But in fact, we've made enormous progress, despite that extended period of time where we couldn't do much in the way of raising awareness or increasing knowledge of our cause, let alone catalyzing consideration of supporting us financially, or otherwise.  But that's all behind us.

In fact, we were able to use that time to hone an architecture and engineer a truly innovative next generation elections technology framework, start building important foundation components, make great headway in voter registration services, and catalyze a lot of activity in open elections data standards.  With all of that as a base, we are increasing the heavy lifting of development.  You can read and see more about our architecture here. 

To be sure, we've built lots of open source software for the benefit of elections officials and voters to date, with components already in production, more stuff in prototype or experimentation, with other stuff in testing, but there is a whole bunch more to come.

However, on this day, our birthday, we thought we would share something with you all about our operating principles.  We could catalog all we've done in eight years here, but readers can figure that out looking through our web sites.  We will soon publish a time-line of sorts.  But instead, today we hope this statement (or manifesto of sorts), sheds some light on how we are guided in our cause.  Have a read. ;-)

Our Operating Principles - How We Do What We Do

The Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation, a non-grant making 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit California public benefit organization, is challenging the status quo of many efforts in electoral technology reform, applying entrepreneurial principles to our cause.  

We necessarily eschew tactical or piecemeal change, recognizing that innovation in the machinery of elections must be holistic, strategic and above all, transformational. Therefore, we are guided by 4 operating principles reduced to practice in our flagship effort, the TrustTheVote™ Project working on the front lines of electoral technology and process reform:

  1. Catalyze transformational innovation in the critical democracy infrastructure of elections administration and voting.
  2. Pursue an audacious agenda, think big, be willing to take aggressive risks and conduct all efforts in a goal-oriented manner.
  3. Apply proactive approaches to the work that engage elections stakeholders in meaningful ways with measurable impact.
  4. Solve the challenges of elections administration and voting by inventing applications, devices, and services that people can see, touch, and try, and which bring ease, convenience, and even delight to the experience of administering, conducting, and for citizens, participating in the electoral processes of American democracy in a digital age.

What Success Means

Success of the TrustTheVote Project means causing historical change in the machinery of elections, in a massively scalable manner, that demonstratively and markedly improves the mandate of trustworthy elections: the highest possible assurance of verifiability, accuracy, security, and transparency.


There are 10 characteristics of the TrustTheVote Project that are delivering on our operating principles:

  1. Unbridled Innovation.  Designing, from the ground-up, an open source holistic elections technology framework that addresses all aspects of the voting ecosystem including both elections administration and voting processes.
  2. Standards Driven.  Driving open data standards for transparency and interoperability with government IT infrastructure.
  3. Collaborative Model.  Placing stakeholders—elections officials from all over the country—at the center of our work, rather than source code, and nurturing the stakeholder relationship to bring about tacit approval of our efforts to catalyze massively scalable adoption of our work.
  4. Publicly Owned IP.  Pursuing an aggressive intellectual property asset portfolio assigned to public ownership through a combination of open source licensing and global patent protection.
  5. Catalyzing the Industry.  Providing the research, development, education, and support for election technology innovation in order to reinvigorate a commercial market for the adaptation, deployment, service, and support of elections and voting systems based on this publicly owned critical democracy infrastructure.
  6. Pursuing Integrity.  Catalyzing fundamental change in federal certification processes, helping the EAC and NIST with a new, modern component-based model for certifying the integrity of voting systems.
  7. Evolving Procurement.  Helping reshape government procurement policy in a manner that preserves the important objectives of equity, fairness, and transparency in those processes, while enabling fair market opportunity for open source alternatives and opportunity for a wider spectrum of organizations to compete for contract opportunities to supply digital innovation.
  8. Evangelizing Open Source.  Educating states, counties, and jurisdictions on the benefits and costs of open source alternatives.
  9. Fostering Excellence.  Developing a pathway and road map for innovation in elections to advance ease, convenience, and even delight in the administrative role and voter participation in the most critical part of our democratic process: public elections.
  10. An Eye on Global Application.  Finally, it is our aspiration to pursue global application of this work in any democracy worldwide.

These are our operating principles and characteristics of conduct, and we are steadfastly committed to their constant exercise.

November 2014

Gregory A. Miller
Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer

E. John Sebes
Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer