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Election Technology Reform

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Reviewing the Brennan Center Study on Election Security—Part 1

The Brennan Center for Justice recently released a fairly thorough, well done report on the security needs and vulnerabilities of the U.S. election system—a topic of considerable attention here at the Institute.  It’s a vital element of the current debate and discussion of democracy administration and national security.  This is the first of a three-part series examining the Brennan Report on election security.

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Can iVoting Change the Electorate?

We produced this series of posts on Internet Voting or “iVoting” and its challenges because there is increasing interest in understanding how to innovate our election infrastructure.  We concede it can be a potential and prospective advance in voting technology—a next frontier of elections for the 21st century if you will. And some even speculate this new way of exercising our civic duty and civil right could expand participation....

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The Challenges of iVoting Implementation

When we last left this discussion, I had laid out a basis for our interest in technologies just over the horizon or "ready next" and in particular the growing interest in smartphone voting. I am essentially carving up a technology backgrounder white paper for easy reading here. Today I help us dive in with a survey of the challenge areas to "Pajama Voting" (I love that phrase)...

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With the Election Past; The Clock is Running

With the election behind us, regardless of how you view the results, one irrefutable fact remains... the 2016 general election is absolutely the last election the existing voting infrastructure of this nation can possibly support.  Another fact is that the machinery of America's elections is on its last legs (literally)...

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Is the Electoral College Dead, and is Their An App For That?

Today Facebook is full of calls for a national popular vote ("NPV") and even more for something called the National Popular Vote Compact.  Implementing NPV not only requires substantial political will (and US constitutional amendment); it requires nationwide audits and recounts, national open data standards, and evidenced based election technology with voter verifiable paper trails.  The TrustTheVote Project may have an App or two to help if and when the time comes.  At the very least, our work can facilitate that conversation.  Today, national election integrity activist and expert Luther Weeks lays out some of the challenges...

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Response Letter to POLITICO Article on Critical Election Infrastructure

Below is a letter sent to Tim Starks and Cory Bennett of POLITICO, who cover cyber-security issues.  There seems to be some fundamental misunderstandings of the challenges local election officials (LEOs) face, the process by which the equipment is qualified for deployment (albeit decrepit archaic technology by today's standards), what the vulnerabilities are (and are not), and why a designation of "critical infrastructure" is an important consideration.  We attempt to address some of those points in this response to Tim's otherwise really good coverage....

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Finally, Gov Starts Talking About Critical Democracy Infrastructure

This week the Government started earnest discussions about election infrastructure as possibly rising to the level of critical infrastructure.  Like us, we think they're sensing that this coming general election is ripe for disruption, both from foreign operator but potentially even domestic actors.  We think this is a great idea, but not without the required action to make it really happen.  Designations are start, but there is a bunch of work to be done...

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Fixing Voting Infrastructure: A Good Start to a Great Idea

In April, Representative Henry "Hank" Johnson (GA-04)  introduced a bill in Congress that went largely unnoticed by most.  We noticed.  We prepared comments, feedback, and are now ready to offer more invited input.  At first we were a little dubious because we think the "ask" can be tuned, but then we realized the importance of Rep. Johnson's vision and the potential of this Bill...

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Announcing Collaboration to Produce Global Election Technology Industry Study

This week the Wharton School together with its Public Policy Institute and the OSET Foundation announced an important industry research project to further inform business, government, and philanthropy on the state of the global election technology industry.  The research team is comprised of two principal investigators: Dr. Lorin Hitt of Wharton and Gregory Miller of the OSET Foundation, leading six Wharton students, and managed by Andrew Coopersmith of the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative ...

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A Hacked Case For Election Technology

A credible election technology company makes an incredible assertion, and the result is our CTO hot-in-pursuit of some intellectual honesty.  The good news: the conversation is growing on the emerging issue of America's crumbling election technology infrastructure.  The bad news: articles like the one reviewed by our CTO, particularly when published by a respectable online scientific journal create a "reality distortion field" resulting in "sound-bytes" that can mislead policy makers, politicians, and less informed pundits.  Result: degradation of the signal to noise ratio and a hacked case for election technology.  Read on, for a dose of intellectual honesty from our Chief election technologist...

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Reality Check: Cost of Software Development

Even philanthropic efforts to produce public benefits in the form of civic technology have real costs associated with software development.  The open source model, however, means the costs are significantly less than current proprietary commercial alternatives, while the innovative benefits, unconstrained by commercial mandates, can be significantly greater.  More importantly, there is some reality distortion over the real costs to building civic engagement IT, such as election administration and voting systems.  They are markedly different than many other civic engagement tools that require only APIs and interactive web services leveraging government data stores to better engage and serve citizens.  Tuesday's post by Ms. Voting Matters on our Voter Services Portal ignited comments and questions about the real cost to build the Voter Services Portal.  The VSP is not "yet another simple web site," but a collection of software to provide services to voters that integrate with back-end legacy systems, and set the foundation to drive a series of voter service innovations as well as other election management tools in the near future.  We breakdown the cost model and actual costs here...

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Fighting for Democracy Means More Than Bearing Arms

On this 239th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, we find ourselves reflecting on the causes of democracy and the good and just fight to protect and preserve democracy--not only here in the United States of America, but globally.  The cause of the OSET Foundation, manifest in the TrustTheVote Project, is one important, arguably vital aspect of that good and just fight.  It is likewise important to illustrate that fighting for our democracy means more than bearing arms.

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NCSL Convenes Policy & Election Technology Summit

NCSL Conference on Policy and Elections Technology is in full swing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Our Chief Development Officer is set to participate in an interesting panel on the future of elections technology in a post-HAVA funded world.  We have a position document responding to several questions posed to us in advance of the conference available for download...

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State Certification of Future Voting Systems — 3 Points of Departure

This is a more technical post than others here given the broadening of an audience visiting this Foundation web site in search for content like this article below rather than hanging out on our more geeky Project site (which is soon to be relaunched and be way more engaging for all audiences, we're excited to report).  Usually, you will find this kind of content over there, while here we'll talk more about voting experience innovations, policy matters, and progress of the Project.  So, for those who are passionate about elections reform and improving the voting experience, but are not as fluent in some of the technical issues, feel free to look this over, but do not fret if seems like gobbledygook.  There is more relevant stuff for your concerns to come.  Ready?  Here we go...

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Advancing Election Data Standards: View From the Trenches

Elections data standards are essential to delivering real innovation.  The annual Election Data Standards meeting opened today in Los Angeles, CA.  We thought we'd give you an overview of just what in the hec this is about and why its essential to creating a voting experience that's easy, convenient, and dare we say delightful.  Dry?  Kinda.  But a peek at the real in the trenches work we're doing.  Yep.

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The Moose Lurking in the Room

To hec with the elephant (regardless of who you think will control Congress after election day), the real beast in the room may be a Moose -- Alaska style.  Our CTO notes an article from yesterday that points out how Alaska's close U.S. senatorial race, combined with their allowing ballots to be digitally returned across the Internet, may pose the greatest threat to a derailed election we've seen yet. 

But the real point John makes is that sadly, Alaskan voters may not even be aware of the risks and who in this case is watching over their ballots -- at least those returned in the inherently insecure manner of the Internet, no matter how "secure" the "experts" are claiming the process to be.  If the ballot return system in Alaska were truly as secure as their vendor claims, then Banks would be using their methods, and the massive amounts of hacked customer personal information at major brands this year might have been alleviated.  Have a look and give us your take.

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