We are happy to present one of the major players in the push for more transparency in democratic elections and the push to digitizing the process in the open source community. This article and interview hears from Brent Turner about how the California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO) uses open source software to bring trust back into the process of casting and counting votes during elections. Follow My Vote is proud to have joined the California Association of Voting Officials back in 2014. Together we aim to utilize more open source possibilities for elections.
I am a California-based civil rights activist with a focus on election system security. In 2000, I became interested in reformist efforts, and in 2005 began advocating for open source (GPL) systems. Initially there was a group called Open Voting Consortium doing good work; then the California Association of Voting Officials was created.
CAVO’s mission is to oversee the deployment of publicly-owned/state-certified OS voting systems. Publicly-owned open source (General Public License) voting systems will be less expensive and more secure. Off-the-shelf commodity hardware can be utilized as well.
Tell us about the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), its origins, and what it now calls for.
HAVA was created in response to the 2000 debacle. Lobbyists Bob Ney and Jack Abramoff pushed for it, and the rest is history. Basically, America was sold a 4.5 billion dollar batch of bogus voting systems that government reports have condemned as flawed. The vendors seized the lock-in opportunity to push poorly-made and high-priced systems, and it continues to this day.
The good part of the Act was its attempt to accommodate the disability community, but that attempt failed. The disability community is still hopeful for a future technological solution.