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[liberationtech] EveryVote Prototype / Advice for Knight Foundation Prototype Grant Applicant?

Philip Shaw wahspilihp at
Sun Feb 2 18:36:01 PST 2014

Another FOSS voting system is the EVACS project[0] published by Software Improvements for the Australian Capital Territory, which implements Hare-Clark voting (and thus also IRV/AV as a particular case), and has been audited for compliance with the ACT’s electoral law. 

The code is C, under the GPL2 (not 2+), and the counting code is moderately ugly, because it is a line-for-line implementation of the manual counting process, complete with gotos.

I’m not involved in the project - I was looking into an online voting system a couple of years ago but the client dropped the idea because of ballot integrity issues.


On 31 Jan 2014, at 18:59 , Eduardo Robles Elvira <edulix at> wrote:

> Hello people:
> Glad to read some other people working in libre software voting systems.
> As I have commented other times in here, I work in an open-source voting
> system too [0] [1] [2]. I'd like to bring your attention to two key points:
> * There are few grants to apply for a voting system as far as I have
> seen. We tried to do a FP7 european project (working with ~7 other
> european entities like universities, companies, NGO, etc), which took a
> lot of work and it's very difficult to get - and as we were novices, we
> didn't get it. We also applied to some Knight Foundation funds but we
> also didn't get it.
> The focus is usually in either opendata/transparency or the developing
> world, so an electronic voting system is usually not really a best-fit
> and because there's a lot of competition, you don't get the grant.
> I believe it's important to raise awareness about this because
> developing a secure open-source electronic voting system requires a lot
> of effort and I think it has a lot of benefits for society. And you
> don't really want to end up privatizing e-democracy, or using democratic
> tools without any or good enough security measures.
> BTW, I'm not thinking just about elections, we need to develop
> democratic tools for the whole community decision-making thing:
> filtering options, discussion, collaborative proposal ellaboration. We
> have tons of ideas about that in AgoraVoting [3] [4], we just don't have
> the resources.
> * If you want to have do many kinds of tallies, you should check the
> openstv library [5]. It's written in python, unittested with real
> election data, and it supports a lot of voting systems: approval, Borda,
> Condorcet, IRV, and all kinds of STV methods.
> * A lot of successful open-source tools privatize their source code.
> For example, openstv closed their source code in 2011 and now we have to
> host in out github account [5] a copy of that and support it ourselves.
> That also happened to us with verificatum [6], a provably secure mix-net
> we use inside our software to make secure (as defined in the academic
> world) elections, and now we have to maintain it at our own risk.
> This last bullet point is probably related to the difficulty of
> accessing to grant money and how difficult and time-consuming this kind
> of projects are: when after years of hardwork you finally get noticed,
> you say to yourself: I did it, I'll benefit from it.
> In the case of verificatum, I know a bit the author (Douglas,
> world-class cryptographer), after years of work alone on a provable
> election library library unique on its class, and now the monopoly
> multinational Scytl [7] may use and benefit from all his work for free.
> Tough decision.
> Don't worry, we won't ever do that with Agora ;-)
> Regards,
> --
> [0]
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]
> [5]
> [6]
> [7] Scytl is such a monopoly in elections that they even state in their
> website that they do 87% of online-elections world-wide
> On 31/01/14 04:44, Chris Csikszentmihalyi wrote:
>> Mitch,
>> Echoing Peter, there's a lot of ink spilled about various preferential
>> voting systems, including rank, multi-stage, etc.  Benjamin Mako Hill, who
>> may well be on this list and many of you probably know, did a project in my
>> research group at MIT to develop both a preferential voting library and an
>> example app called selectricity (currently unmaintained).
>> What was great about Selectricity was that one could choose from about half
>> a dozen election methods, including plurality, Condorcet, Schultze, etc.,
>> but also see what the election would have resulted in if another method had
>> been used.  Selectricity was used by a variety of unions, student groups,
>> etc. to do board votes, etc.  One election for the board of Students for
>> Free Culture was a great example, in that the Schultze method (also used by
>> Debian) was chosen, and resulted in a completely different set of board
>> members being elected than plurality had been used.
>> The shorthand we used to describe its difference from plurality:  10 people
>> want to go to lunch.  Half really prefer Szechuan food, and hate Northern
>> Italian cuisine.  Half crave Italian the most but hate Szechuan.  But all
>> of them would choose Thai food for their second choice, and really like it
>> a lot.  In plurality voting, _no one would ever eat Thai_.
>> Anyway, feel free to look at the code bases -- I think riseup used rubyvote
>> in one of their projects? -- and note: it was developed in part with Knight
>> Foundation funding!
>> Chris.
>> On Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 7:14 PM, Peter Lindener <lindener.peter at>wrote:
>>> Hi
>>>    Mitch-
>>>    I went to your sight's URL and git hub repository....
>>>   I did not dive into your web sight's code....  But I'm wondering if
>>> there is any consideration by way of the algebraic dependencys of Von
>>> Neumann and Morgenstern expected utility theorem,<> it can be proven that a well formed Cardinal Ranked Choice voting system
>>> is nessisary for all voter's to be consistently represented over the full
>>> space of potential Social Decsion outcomes.
>>>   Does your web sight utilize this kind of Ranked Choice voter
>>> prioritized preference ballot?....   If not, how might your system in any
>>> real sense take into account every voters secondary preferences if they
>>> happen not to win there first?
>>>   There is more to the Social Decision Systems problem, but lets start
>>> with the basics....   without a Social Choice Function's having access to
>>> the entire Cardianl ranked choice preference priorities of each and every
>>> voter, it would be impossible for a voting function to consistently
>>> represent each voter by attempting to maximize the expected personal
>>> utility of each and every voter over the probability space of all possible
>>> outcomes...
>>>   What does it mean when you use the phrase "EveryVote" ?
>>>    -Peter
>>> On Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 5:39 PM, Mitch Downey <mitch at> wrote:
>>>> Hi liberationtech,
>>>> I'm applying for the Knight Prototype Fund, and I'm new to this stuff. Is
>>>> there anyone here with grant experience who can offer some advice? The
>>>> application is due tomorrow, January 31 before midnight. Even if you send
>>>> advice for the project after the deadline, we'd appreciate the input.
>>>> We're requesting funding to finish building the MVP of the open source
>>>> (AGPLv3) EveryVote election and townhall meeting platform. Click the link
>>>> below to check out how EveryVote could help increase voter turnout, connect
>>>> constituents to representatives and candidates, and facilitate debate
>>>> online.
>>>> EveryVote Prototype:
>>>> Our intended audience for the Spring 2014 MVP is university student
>>>> organization elections, such as Student Governments, Campus Activities
>>>> Boards, Fraternity Councils, Homecoming King and Queen, and any other
>>>> organization with elections. EveryVote group pages have to be easy enough
>>>> that the Election Commissioners of the student organizations can
>>>> comfortably manage the pages themselves.
>>>> Also, EveryVote is dedicated to using international open government data
>>>> standards, and building its software with federation to maximize the
>>>> freedom and convenience of users, and also so EveryVote itself cannot form
>>>> a monopoly over access to public data or public data tools. We'd also like
>>>> to help educate university students about the value and challenges of open
>>>> data standards and network federation.
>>>> Please let us know if you have any questions, and thank you for your
>>>> consideration.
>>>> Mitch Downey
>>>> contactus {at} everyvote [dot] org
>>>> --
>>>> Liberationtech is public & archives are searchable on Google. Violations
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>>> --
>>> Liberationtech is public & archives are searchable on Google. Violations
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> -- 
> Eduardo Robles Elvira     +34 668 824 393            skype: edulix2
>    it's not magic, it's wadobo!
> -- 
> Liberationtech is public & archives are searchable on Google. Violations of list guidelines will get you moderated: Unsubscribe, change to digest, or change password by emailing moderator at companys at

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