Reference implementation of Open Voting Consortium (OVC) design standards
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A worldwide group of scientists, engineers, political scientists, legal scholars, and voting-rights activists are working on developing a PC based voting machines that will be easier to use, more secure, cheaper, and provide greater democratic transparency than commercially available voting machines. All EVM2003 voting stations produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot
Computerized voting offers many advantages over traditional systems, including,
- The ability to easily handle multiple languages
- Meeting the needs of voters with disabilities
- Eliminates problems such as over-voting and other voter intent issues.
High quality refurbished PC's that are only one generation old exist in great abundance and have more than enough power to make great voting machines.
The EVM2003 software development project includes participants from around the United States as well as from many other countries. Our EVM2003 reference software is Free Software, programmed in Python, and uses documented XML formats for data storage. EVM2003 consists of several software elements:
- A GUI touchscreen ballot entry interface. User will touch screen regions or use another pointing device to select candidates or other elections issues. After completion of selections, a readable paper ballot will be printed for a voter to place into a ballot box after verification.
- A Reading-Impaired Interface (RII) ballot entry interface. User who are vision- or reading-impaired may use an alternate ballot entry interface that uses a keypad to navigate and headphones to confidentially select ballot options. After completion of selections, a ballot identical to that produced by the touchscreen GUI will be printed.
- A Ballot Vocalization Application (BVA). Voter who are not able to see or read a printed ballot may bring their ballot (in a private folder) to the BVA, which will read back the selections made on a ballot over headphones. The BVA is a separate station, not networked with the GUI or RII stations, and is coded independently of the other software components.
- A Ballot Reconciliation Program (BRP) creates a local count of votes recorded on paper ballots, and checks that they match the XML-format electronic ballot images (EBIs) recorded on GUI or RII stations. BRP is run at a precinct level, at the end of a polling period.
- Tallying Software. Votes collected at precincts are canvassed (aggregated) at higher levels. EVM2003 software will support both single-vote plurality winner tabulation and a variety of ranked-preference tabulation styles, including but not limited to: Instant Runoff Voting; Condorcet; Borda; Cardinality.
EVM2003 volunteers include architectural advisor David Mertz of Massachusetts, a well-known writer on computer programming and security issues; and Developer Lead Fred McLain of Washington who has consulted for IBM, Sun Microsystems and Johns Hopkins University on software security issues. Additional key people include Jan Karrman (Sweden), Eron Lloyd, Karl Auerbach, Laird Popkin, Matt Shomphe, Anand Pillai (India), John-Paul Gignac (Canada), Matteo Giacomazzi (Italy) and Will Brunner (Germany). Liam Helmer is developing an EVMix "live CD" based on StrongBox Linux
The developers appreciate the ongoing advice from OVC board members and supporters: president, Alan Dechert; Arthur Keller, a UC Santa Cruz computer science professor; Douglas W. Jones, a University of Iowa computer science professor and world-renowned expert on voting technology; OVC Founding Member Charlie Strauss; and others.
The EVM2003 project is using the services offered at SourceForge.net, the world's largest Open Source software development web site, to store source code and documentation, track issues, and manage the project. Developers want to demonstrate a voting system where all components are open for public inspection and debate. Consistent with this idea, all aspects of the development of the software are open to the public also.
A successful, and widely reported, initial demonstration of EVM2003 voting systems took place on April 1, 2004, in Santa Clara County, California. A web based version is also available so that anyone with Internet access can try out the look and feel of the GUI entry and printed ballots.EVM2003 will be a modern, reliable, affordable, uniform, and fully auditable voting system. While designed to be certified in the United States first, it will be built from the ground up as an international voting machine. The larger study will include not only the development of voting machine software, but all software necessary for election administration, and an Election Rules Database that will document all election rules in effect in all jurisdictions in the United States.