Monday, May 09, 2005

Victorian government elects open source for e-democracy platform

Came across this article in Computerworld. Looks like the idea is taking off.*

Of particular note is the following paragraph:
The Electronic Democracy Subcommittee, chaired by Victorian MP Michael Leighton said the use of open source is specifically recommended so voters can "be satisfied with the integrity of the system".
"The other principle we recommended for electronic voting is that there is a paper trail -unlike what happened in the US presidential election.
However, I have to wonder why the following recommendation was made:
Leighton said the line for "electronic democracy" would be drawn at Internet voting, and recommendations have been made that this not be considered.

Last week the Victorian Electoral Commission called for tenders for electronic voting machines.
Diebold was also mentioned.
I may be naive, but do I smell a lobby group?

*Update: the full report can be found here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Environment and Open Voting

The 'Millenium Ecosystem Assessment' report (summarised here by Greenfacts) has been cited as a cause for gloom and doom in the popular press.

There is no reason for that to be so (See Worldchanging on the topic). In fact, the report predicts a net degradation of the environment and overall standard of living in only one of the four scenarios it explores.

Why the gloom? Well, guess which scenario is closest to the current world situation (actually, I can see a few aspects of some of the other scenarios, but there's certainly no grounds for complacency!)

So, what are these scenarios, and what have they got to do with Open Voting?

The scenarios were derived from considering two factors: the degree of cooperation between nations, and the degree of proactive response to environmental threats:
  • Order from Strength assumes a world where regions concentrate on local safety and protection, placing little value on common goods, and not thinking ahead on environmental issues. This scenario was found to have the poorest economic growth prospects. (In fact, the prospects were negative in the majority of measures applied)
  • Global Orchestration suggests a modest improvement could be achieved if the world nations were to adopt a more cooperative marketing model, and take strong steps to reduce poverty.
  • Adapting Mosaic takes a different approach, emphasising proactive responses to environmental issues at a local level. Its projected outcome is a lot more promising.
  • Not suprisingly, TechnoGarden suggests the best outcome is to be had if a globally connected economy adopts a proactive approach to environmental issues.
Of the two factors considered, it appears that adopting a proactive approach to problems has a more positive effect and, fortunately, it would appear to be the easier approach to adopt. I'm not talking about government level, but the the common folk who, thanks to improved communications, are becoming more aware of what issues affect them, and are better able to take coordinated action, with or without government approval.

A more coordinated global marketing policy will be harder to achieve. At this level, regions are represented by governments, and it will be by governments (and the lobby groups who define their policies) that global markets will be opened up and made more interdependent.

And it is here that I see Open Voting making a contribution. If the voting process can be streamlined, then people (who, as mentioned in the last paragraph, are becoming more able to make decisions for themselves) will be more inclined to participate in official policy making. (Even if it's only to elect the policy makers, in the first instance.)