How was your last voting experience? Smooth? Perhaps not. The Open Source Election Technology Foundation wants to change that by making voting simpler and more transparent. Its chief effort, called TrustTheVote, is a push to develop airtight, open-source vote casting and tabulation software that can be paired with off-the-shelf hardware. Open-source code and off-the-shelf plastic mean that TrustTheVote will, if it meets its goals, sell better, transparent voting machines to precincts at a fraction of the current cost. Each major election cycle in the United States brings the same whispers: Irregularities in Ohio counties, odd voting machine behavior in Iowa, and constant fringe intrigue about which candidate is getting a secret electronic bump due to a distant relative’s relationship with a voting machine company. It’s not healthy for our democracy.
The democracy space is heating up. News came out this morning that Sean Parker haspersonally invested more than $9 million into a company designed to shake up American democracy. TrustTheVote has raised around $1.2 million to date in cash and a few million more in in-kind contributions. The group is looking to raise much more to staff up and get its product finished, onto hardware and into the wild of elections as quickly as possible.
TrustTheVote expects to have trials in the field by 2016 and a full rollout by the 2018 midterm election cycle. If that feels like a long way off, keep in mind that building voting technology is slightly harder than building other software — given the massive incentive for attack, the stuff has to be more than bulletproof.