In 2016, the mayor and board of supervisors of the city and county of San Francisco approved a plan that would lead to the development of open source voting technology for San Francisco’s elections. Funding of this project led initially to the award of a contract for a study of the associated issues and recommendations about how to develop and implement such a system. More recently, additional funding has permitted the city’s IT department to hire technical and management leadership to oversee the planning and implementation of the system with the San Francisco elections commissioner as project owner.
Tony Wasserman explains that the project’s goal is to design and implement an open source paper ballot voting system, replacing the proprietary systems currently in use. If the project is successful, it would be the first such system anywhere. The effort is aided by an Open Source Voting Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC), whose members bring experience and knowledge of voting procedures, government agencies, contracting, software development processes, and open source software. The OSVTAC is subject to government “sunshine laws” and has followed open source processes in its work, with all of its materials and recommendations available. Recordings of the meetings are available on a YouTube channel.
Tony provides details on the background of the open source voting project, an overview of other efforts, a description of the OSVTAC recommendations for the open source voting system, and an update on the project status.
Tony Wasserman is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Silicon Valley and the executive director of its center for open source investigation (COSI). He’s particularly interested in the evaluation and adoption of open source software, as well as its use in mobile devices and the cloud. He’s an advisor to several Silicon Valley startups. Tony divided his career between industry and academia and has been involved with open source software since the mid-1970s. Previously, Tony was cofounder of the Business Readiness Rating project (OSSPal); BSD Unix at Berkeley, as professor of medical information science at the University of California, San Francisco; a lecturer in the Computer Science Division at the University of California, Berkeley; founder of Interactive Development Environments (IDE), one of the first companies to include open source software in a commercial product and one of the first 100 dot-coms; vice president of Bluestone Software (acquired by HP) where he was responsible for its West Coast Labs and led the creation of the award-winning open source Total-e-Mobile toolkit, allowing mobile devices to connect to Java-based web applications. His user software engineering (USE) project released software under a BSD license in 1980, which was used by IDE as a foundation for its innovative software through pictures multiuser modeling environment. Tony’s a board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) where he serves as chair of the education committee, a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and a Life Fellow of the IEEE. He’s the 2012 recipient of the Distinguished Educator award from the IEEE Computer Society’s Technical Committee on Software Engineering. His hobbies and interests include world travel (58 countries, with Tunisia next), photography, running, and bicycling.
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