19 Jul 2001 tgw   » (Journeyer)

As was posted on Slashdot yesterday, and was posted here a day before that, the CalTech-MIT Voting Technology Report was released a few days ago. I haven't had the chance to read through the entire report. Due to the fact that the font-types used do not render well when printed on my DeskJet printer - or when displayed on my laptop screen - the text of the report is difficult to decipher.

However, the one section that I have been able to read through is contained in pages 60 through 66. This section contains an introduction to their AMVA, which stands for "A Modular Voting Architecture". The authors begin this section by stating ...

This section presents a new framework - a reference architecture - for voting that we feel has many attractive features. It is not a machine design, but rather a framework that will stimulate innovation and design. It is potentially the standard architecture for all future voting equipment.
After reading this I thought, "Hmm. Interesting. Let's see what they came up with." I went on to be more than a little amused when I realized that this "standard architecture for all future voting equipment" was almost an exact duplicate of a voting system design I had posted online three and a half months ago.

For the fourth version of TDP Notes I had written up a new section called - ironically enough - The Future of Voting Systems. In it I described Hybrid Paper/Electronic (HPE), Paper-to-Electronic (P2E), Electronic-to-Paper (E2P), Electronic-to-Electronic (E2E), and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) voting systems. (This page is also cached at Google. Scroll down to see the section I'm referring to.)

Of these, the P2E and E2P descriptions were simply laying out what had already been suggested or previously implemented by others. However, the E2E and P2P explanations were new - as well as the terminology I was using. Of particular interest is the E2E design I laid out.

With the CalTech-MIT AMVA, they specify generic designs for both a paper-based and an electronic voting system. The paper-based system is simply a traditional mark- an-X-on-a-paper-ballot type of system, where the paper ballots are counted by hand. However, the AMVA electronic voting system design is almost an exact duplicate of my E2E design.

I don't believe I had ever heard of this type of split, two- step voting system design before I thought of it, and wrote about it, earlier this year. To my knowledge I was the first to publicly suggest this type of design when version 0.4 of TDP Notes was posted online in March 2001. I realize someone else may have publicly suggested this before March, but if they did I was not - and still am not - aware of it.

I will probably post more of a comparison between the AMVA and the E2E design out on the TDP mailing list when I get the chance. In the meantime, I will be feeling more than a little pleased that the CalTech-MIT team has validated my work in such a positive way. The sad part is, I didn't have the benefit of a quarter million dollar grant to fund my efforts. :-<

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