Many of you are learning the news, and its true: our Foundation’s name is changing, but the mission remains the same. Here’s the story.
I’d like to officially introduce you all to our new name: the Open Source Election Technology Foundation, or as we’re referring to it, the “OSET Foundation” (“Oh-Set”). And if you haven’t seen our updated Foundation web site, please have a visit and tell us what you think. But know that what you see there today is an initial site launch to put the Foundation name into circulation, and we’re already hard at work developing an entirely new version of the OSET Foundation site as well as a new home for the TrustTheVote Project and related sites.
I can tell you we’ve selected WordPress as our platform for all of our web sites going forward, thanks to the generous support of Matt Mullenweg, who has generously backed the Foundation before, and is stepping up again, this time with WordPress development resources to help us publish a world class set of sites and resources for our stakeholders (elections officials), supporters, and you. We deeply appreciate Matt’s support. But I digress. Let’s get back to the naming thing.
What’s in a Name?
When we got our start back in late 2006 we chose a name, somewhat intentionally provocative, to reflect what we believed then our mission should be: addressing the pressing need for innovation in machinery used to administer an election. To us, and many we spoke with in that first year, “digital voting” meant the use of computers in the act(s) of voting. The cries to rethink DREs (“digital recording electronics”) were reaching a crescendo and we were tired of writing about their woes and decided we should form a team to rethink the machinery… but in a way to bring more transparency at least, and more accuracy, verification and security in the process. So…
“Open Source,” from our experiences in the Silicon Valley (notably the Mozilla Project, as some of us were by then Netscape alumni) was potentially the “jam cracker” to inject innovation into a stagnant industry where there is no business incentive to perform the R&D necessary to address the mandates of verification, accuracy, security and transparency. Thus we branded ourselves the “Open Source Digital Voting” or “OSDV” Foundation.
Fast forward to 2010 when, during the midst of our battle to earn our tax exempt status, we learned from our PR team that consumer research revealed a startling fact. In that first 4 years while we were learning the ins and outs of elections administration and related processes, policies, politics, and people, the iPod and iPhone had reshaped popular perception and “digital” now meant “Internet” to many consumers.
Of course, that resulted in a terrible misconception of what we’re doing because our work has nothing to do with Internet Voting — a concept given today’s Internet that is simply not viable by our measure in terms of simultaneously assuring privacy and security of ballot data.
More importantly, our work had progressed to the point that we realized the opportunity to develop an entire elections administration framework, and that to be successful, our cause needs to address the entire voting ecosystem.
So, it became clear that “OSDV” as a name had become obsolete and a new name was required. That name, a phrase that far more accurately explains what our non-profit mission is about, is the Open Source Election Technology or OSET Foundation.
Importantly, our flagship effort, the TrustTheVote Project, remains the main thing and vehicle of our mission to bring publicly owned innovation to our Nation’s critical democracy infrastructure. We have refreshed the TrustTheVote Project brand as you can see to the left here, which can also be seen by visiting either of our Twitter presences @OSET or @TrustTheTheVote. However, nothing else about the Project has or will change — save a new web site on the way this summer.
In short, we’re pleased to introduce the OSET Foundation with its on-going mission via the TrustTheVote Project to “improve confidence in elections and their outcomes.”