Mapping. That’s what we’ve been up to –
sort of like Lewis &
charting the course of our OSDV expedition. And similar to the trials and tribulations of
explorers Lewis & Clark, I was hunkered down for days due to weather in the
Pacific Northwest thwarting my return passage
back to the Bay Area following the holidays.
So please excuse my radio silence.
And the same for John, who in addition to spending more time mapping
than blogging (obviously) was also
snow bound in Lake Tahoe for
several more days than planned. But we’re
back in the saddle.
So, today I
want to start some discussion about specific work of the OSDV Foundation,
especially in this national election year. We’ve
never had any delusions or misguided notions that the work of this Foundation
could have any demonstrative impact in 2008 on how America votes in a digital
That observed (throughout our communications and content)
we do, in fact, have a simple goal of being actively engaged in the
conversation about how America
votes. Moreover, there are several items
that we intend to work on and produce that will directly impact our larger
effort in re-inventing digital voting technology.
Each of these projects below should put us into the conversation. And that is hugely important. The only way to properly design the next generation of trustworthy voting technology is to do so in a transparent, publicly vetted,open source manner. And catalyzing, as well as participating, in the conversation(s) about how America votes (and I am not referring to outcomes or candidate choosing, but the mechanical processes of casting, tallying, and verifiying voter ballots) is a fudamental first step in that effort.
Incidentally, each of these projects (save the last one below) has a specific budget which will be individually
funded by larger donors. So, let me
provide you with a top level overview of a couple of these projects for 2008 –
in no particular order of importance or priority.
1. Process Diagramming. It has come to
our attention that (believe it or not) there are no simple, yet comprehensive
visual diagrams, or “maps” of the process of elections and voting. And we believe that in order to
thoroughly design – from the ground up – truly trustworthy transparent
digital voting technology we must completely understand the processes as they
stand today. Therefore, one of our
top projects for this year is a comprehensive visual mapping of the
process of elections.
2. Observance. A significant undertaking we’re planning is a
nationwide observation of the election process in action during the
November general election. This
exciting “I Witness” program will engage “certified” voting observers who
will witness and record – through words and pictures – America
voting at a selection of 250 polling stations around the nation. All of the gathered observations will be
compiled and cataloged at the OSDV Foundation web site. This material will serve as the
foundation for Requirements Gathering processes in the design of next
generation digital voting technology.
NOTE: We use the term "observance" because it refers to not only the act (observing), but because we take the process of America voting as something ceremonious to democracy, and a process we respect, value, and will treat with due deference and reverence.
3. Authoring. We also
believe it is imperative to compile a solid foundation of information on
the process of voting in a democracy – chronicling the past, reviewing the
present, and projecting the future.
We anticipate this will result in a book: Decisis – How America Votes in a Digital Democracy, to be
co-authored by myself and John Sebes, our CTO. This project may seek some research
grants, but largely will be supported by ourselves.
This is far
from all that the OSDV Foundation intends to do this year.
For more information, visit the Lab. And this does not include the operational
projects we’re under-taking, including building out the core architecture team
staff, the volunteer ranks, and continuing to develop our Board of
Advisors. If you’re interested in
any of these items, please get a hold of