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26 July 2005

Elections

The other day, I was realizing that I am frustrated with all those people that aren't doing anything about the current state of affairs. Then I realized I was one of those people. Instead of being hypocritical, I decided I needed to do something about it.

The hard part is that people never know what they can do to make a difference. Especially from within the system. Especially with the fraud involved in elections. How are we supposed to make a difference when your one vote for Person A might actually get counted as 5000 votes for Person C?

So, it seems, if we want any chance to make a change from the inside, we have to fix the voting issue. But how? Any effort to make legislation to fix it can easily be blocked by its current fraudulent status. So, we have to figure out another way.

I started thinking that maybe what we need to do is make our own Open Source (though, I think we have to prevent forking if we want the system to be identical nationwide) system and then convince small local elections to try it. Maybe once they try it and it works, someone like Jon Stewart can spread the news.

But there are so many small groups trying to do this kind of thing, how are we going to create something considered 'professional' by the local governments and attract people from various groups to help out? I thought our best bet would be to register Vote.gov to be a centralized official workplace. I contacted the .GOV domain registrar.

My original email:
Your site states that the eligibility requirement is that we be a government organization or program. It also states that we must provide the information of the parent organization. I am trying to determine what I need to do for a project I want to start to qualify. Although I have registered various domains in the past, I want this project to be a public project with no corporation in control.

Specifically, I am looking at the nationwide voting irregularities and public distrust of the current voting system. I am looking into creating a non-partisan, open and transparent voting system. I am looking at having the public (in coordination with any interested district election board/council) design and write an internet-based (free with no hardware costs) open-source voting system.

While I expect that my local county elections commission will assist, I highly doubt they will be the only one. In fact, I expect that various election boards throughout the nation (wherever the developers are able to talk to their local governments) will also initially assist.

I would like us to design and implement the open system, prove it in local elections, and then have the local election boards assist in getting the system available for use at the state level. Again, we are not expecting only one state to be involved, even at the beginning.

We are not looking to replace existing election procedures at this point, but to provide an additional option for voters that they feel that they can trust.

Based on the lack of specific geography to be used, lack of funds (public, private, or federal) to be used, and lack of a parent organization -- how would you recommend we approach the registration process for a domain (we were thinking vote.gov) to centralize the nationwide design and development of this project. While it would be possible to do this in a .org domain, it would loose much credability at that point, and we would have a much harder time getting the various local election boards to assist. We want this to be a project By the People, For the People.


Any recommendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Malachi de AElfweald


And their response:
From :lee.ellis@gsa.gov
To :registrar@dotgov.gov
Date :7/26/2005 10:26:40 AM
Message : The Gov Internet Domain is used only by government organizations. Vote.gov (Which is a canonical name - and only Federal could request it) can only be assigned to the Committee on Elections. After reading your message I would suggest you do some additional research as many groups are doing exactly what is described by yourself.

Lee Ellis
Office of Technology Strategy (ME) Information Architecture and Strategies Division
(202) 501-0282
Cell (202) 253-6448
Fax (202) 501-6455
registrar@dotgov. gov


Some thoughts:
1) Only the Committee on Elections can register 'Vote.gov'. Due to the expected preference of the status quo with them, I think it is highly unlikely that they would do so without having complete oversight (and the ability to change anything we do).
2) He explained that many groups are trying to do exactly what I described. That, of course, is why I was wanting to get a solid location where everyone could congregate and know that it is the 'official' movement to do so -- everyone is so scattered right now, none of them will get very far
3) Lee Ellis, the one we got a response from, is the Policy Maker. *IF* we were going to try to convince anyone, it would have to be him - but I don't see that happening.
4) We can do it on our own, at any domain address -- but we really need a centralized place where everyone will realize that it is where everyone is trying to regroup together. Maybe with the EFF?
5) I will still be doing this, just a minor stumbling block. Will keep you updated.


Based on his suggestion of finding similar groups, I did some searching...


http://openvotingconsortium.org/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=12
Problem with them is that they want to go through all this extra hardware. besides the fact that Diebold
would probably end up making that hardware, extra hardware = extra costs = lower chance of adoption

http://www.verifiedvoting.org/
they are just trying to get legislation to require paper trail. since we are planning on that, doesn't
help or hinder us.

http://www.vote-smart.org/
they provide information on candidates and issues

http://www.countthevote.org/
info about the election fraud

http://www.calvoter.org/
provide info, don't see any software

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/
more information about election fraud

http://votingintegrity.org/docs/help/default.html
they suggest paperless voting machines and optical scanners. no clue how that is different that Diebold,
who does both of those things -- so they are no help

http://electionreform.meetup.com/groups/?country=us&nil=0&zip=97007&dbCo=us&x=0&y=0
this actually shows 32 local members trying to get election reform
the groups listed seem to host events and stuff, would give us some people to talk to, but I don't see any software

and of course, the EFF has a lot of information
http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/


Ok, so what's the next step? EOTI could host the initial version of the site/software. Maybe we could get a new top-level domain for The Commons (as referred to by Thom Hartmann)... If we were to do so, the top-level domain itself would also have to be managed by the Commons. What is the Commons? It is the stuff that is owned by, managed by, and for use of the public. No corporations. Preferably no corrupted government control. But how would we even manage that since the ICANN itself would have to approve it? Unless of course we go to IPv6.... hmmm...

Update: I contacted the Federal Elections Commission....


I had originally contacted the .GOV domain registrar with my request. They (Lee Ellis) informed me that my request for 'vote.gov' could only be assigned to the 'Committee on Elections'. Based on Google results, I believe that may be you.

Let me explain what I am looking to do, and perhaps you can assist or forward me on to someone who can.

The public, seeing voting irregularities nationwide, have a large distrust for the voting process. As such, much of the public does not vote in elections, believing that their vote does not count. In a recent local election, we were informed that less than 5% of the population of the county voted in the previous year's election. This number is far to low to get a good representation of the public opinion.

Much of the public believe that the only solution to have a fair election is to have a completely open and transparent system with a paper trail. Security is also a major concern. We believe that the solution to this problem is to provide an open-source internet-based voting solution so that the public can review the process and locate any source of foul play.

Some would say that Internet-based solutions would not be secure. In fact, however, it would be more secure than any system we currently have in place. Even if you disregard the public displays of being able to quickly hack the Diebold machines, my mail is quite often delivered to the wrong address and never returned to me -- there is no way for the election board to know whether it was me or my neighbor that mailed in my ballot. In addition, internet security is good enough for banking, federal transactions (student loans and taxes) as well as buying and selling stocks. In addition, an open system ensures that holes are found and fixed instead of covered up. By making the system internet based, we also free the communities from purchasing large amounts of questionable hardware, and allow every school, library and home to become their own voting terminal.

We realize that it is unrealistic to expect any election board (local, state or federal) to drop their existing voting mechanisms. We strive to provide an alternate format for those who want to feel secure in their vote. We aim to at first have local elections try out the design before allowing it to be used on a larger scale. Due to the fact that we intend the system to be used in a larger scale over time ( and quite honestly it would be used in multiple communities across the nation at first ), it does not make any sense to have a local state or county domain be the parent of the system. Instead, we want to provide a nationwide central point of contact -- vote.gov (which is not currently in use). While we can easily host this system under any domain, we believe that obtaining the public trust will require that no corporation is in control of the system. It needs to be a system By the People, For the People.

If you are indeed the organization that could permit us to use vote.gov for a public voting system, we would like to kindly ask for your permission to do so. If not, we ask that you forward our request on to the department that would be able to assist us.

Thank you,
Malachi de AElfweald


Update: I got a response from the Federal Elections Commission....

info@fec.gov
to me, HAVAinfo
More options 10:41 pm (5 minutes ago)

Dear Requester,

The FEC is an independent regulatory agency with jurisdiction over the campaign financing of federal elections. The Commission enforces the limits on the sources and amounts of contributions to candidates for federal office, reviews the registration and periodic reports filed by political committees supporting federal candidates, and monitors the public funding of Presidential elections.

This response acknowledges the receipt of your e-mail comment/question. Due to its content, your message has been simultaneously forwarded to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for further assistance. If you wish to contact the EAC for follow-up information, you may reach this agency toll-free at 1-866-747-1471 (see also http://www.eac.gov/contact_us.asp?format=none).

Hopefully you will find this information helpful. In the future, should you have any questions regarding the federal campaign finance law, please contact the FEC’s Information Division, toll-free, at 1-800-424-9530.