Open Source Initiative Blog

  1. This update was provided by Chris Jerdonek (@cjerdonek) and has an important and urgent call to action to help defend elections in California: This Sunday, May 6 at 2pm in San Francisco's Mission District, an open source voting "campaign kick-off" event is happening with many city and state leaders speaking in support. Can you spare some time to help?

    I. Campaign Kick-off Event!

    Confirmed speakers include State Assemblymember David Chiu, State Senator Scott Wiener, Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed, SF Board of Supervisors Budget Chair Malia Cohen, former State Senator Mark Leno, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, and Christine Pelosi, Chair of the California Democratic Party Women's Caucus.

    Please RSVP and attend if you can, and bring a friend! It's important to show our elected officials there is strong community support, and it will be a chance to see many city leaders in person.

    For more info and to RSVP, visit this page:

    Help spread the word by retweeting this tweet and following @SFOpenVoting on Twitter:

    A PDF flier is also available to print out.

    The organizers are still open to having more event cosponsors (no financial commitment needed, just your organization's name in support). Let me know if you're interested. Finally, whether or not you can attend on Sunday, please ask the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to fund the open source voting project in this year's budget.

    Thank you to the California Clean Money Campaign for setting up the links above and for organizing the campaign kick-off (more on their involvement below).

    II. Latest Developments

    To bring you up to speed on where things are currently at, below is a timeline of key events (in chronological order) since last my last update. My last update was in September.

    1. Fall 2017: If you recall from my last update, last fall the San Francisco Department of Elections issued an RFP for someone to write a report to analyze the feasibility of the City and County of San Francisco developing and certifying an open source voting system. This was at the request of the Mayor's Office during Mayor Ed Lee's tenure. The consulting firm Slalom won the contract out of three bidders. The contract was for $175K to write the report. This was taken out of the $300K that Mayor Lee allocated in 2016 for the planning phase of the open source voting project. Slalom's report was originally supposed to be finished at the end of January 2018, but it wasn't finished until a couple months later (more on this below).
    2. January 2018: San Francisco's budget process started around January like it does every year. It will continue until around August 1. Mayor Farrell will propose a budget to the Board of Supervisors around June 1, which is one month from now. After that, the Board will have a chance to make changes to the Mayor's proposed budget. It's important for the Mayor's initial proposed budget to include adequate funding for the project. It is much harder for the Board to change the budget after the fact because there are less funds to work with. In parallel and on a similar schedule, the California State government is also going through its own budget process.
    3. February 2018: In February, a good government group called the California Clean Money Campaign stepped up in a big way to help build support for and secure funding for San Francisco's open source voting project -- both at the city level and at the state level. California Clean Money is a statewide non-profit with over 100,000 members or supporters. Last fall they capped a successful 7-year campaign to pass the landmark California DISCLOSE Act. They have a lot of grassroots organizing clout, so their help has been huge for us! They are the ones organizing the kickoff event on May 6 in San Francisco.
    4. March 8, 2018: At its March 8 meeting, the Elections Commission's 5-member Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC) approved a brief letter to send to the Elections Commission. The letter spells out some recommendations on how initial development funds should be spent. Briefly, it recommends that the City hire a full-time lead for the project as a first step to coordinate and decide next steps. Currently, there is no staff person in City government with the time and expertise to lead the project. TAC's recommendation also says that the vote-by-mail components of the system should be developed first. It outlines a number of reasons for this, including because it would be easier and cheaper to do, and because 63% of voters voted by mail in the last election. So this would be a way to get a bigger bang for the buck initially. You can read OSVTAC's full 2-page letter here.
    5. March 21, 2018 (#1): Slalom's feasibility report was originally supposed to be finished at the end of January. Instead, it was completed in mid-March and published in the agenda packet of the San Francisco Elections Commission's March 21 meeting, which you can find here. The Elections Commission briefly discussed the report at that meeting.
    6. March 21, 2018 (#2): Also at the Elections Commission's March 21 meeting, the California Clean Money Campaign announced some exciting news during public comment. They announced that State Assemblymember David Chiu and State Senator Scott Wiener both agreed to submit a budget request in the State's budget process for $8 million in matching funds for the development of an open source voting system licensed with GPL version 3, which is a strong copyleft license. The funds would be made available to one county in California. California Clean Money is working with them on the request. However, to proceed with the request, they needed a letter of support from one or more of Mayor Farrell, Supervisor Malia Cohen (because she chairs the San Francisco Board's Budget Committee), and President of the Board London Breed. Assemblymember Chiu and Senator Wiener are two of San Francisco's three representatives in the State Legislature. Senator Wiener is also the one who authored the Board of Supervisor's December 2014 resolution that committed the City to moving forward on open source voting. The resolution passed unanimously at the time. Mayor Farrell, Supervisor Cohen, President Breed, and Supervisor Kim are among the supervisors that all voted in favor of the resolution at the time.
    7. March 21, 2018 (#3): After discussing the Slalom Report and hearing the above news at the meeting, the Elections Commission then voted unanimously to do three things: First, to adopt the recommendations of the Commission's Technical Advisory Committee and send them to the Mayor's Office, as well as to the City's Committee on Information Technology COIT. (COIT is a large 15-member body within San Francisco government that reviews and decides on funding allocations for any technology project over $100,000. The Mayor uses COIT's funding recommendations when crafting a budget to propose to the Board of Supervisors, but isn't limited to following COIT's recommendation.) Second, to request that the Mayor and Board of Supervisors budget at least $4 million for the first year of development. Third, to ask Mayor Farrell and Board Budget Chair Malia Cohen to send a letter to the State Capitol in support of the budget request that California Clean Money was working on with Assemblymember Chiu and Senator Wiener.
    8. April 1, 2018: The San Francisco Examiner published a front-page article on April 1 about the developments at the March 21 Commission meeting, including the possibility of $8 million in state matching funds, and whether Mayor Farrell and Supervisor Cohen were willing to send a letter: “Open-source voting in SF may require match of state, local funds.“
    9. April 4, 2018: A few days after the first SF Examiner article, Supervisor Cohen agreed to send a letter in support of the budget request. However, Mayor Farrell still hasn't agreed to sending a support letter, even though sending such a letter wouldn't commit San Francisco to allocating any funds towards the project. The Examiner published a second article on April 4 covering these newer developments, including Supervisor Cohen's support: “State funding proposal for open source voting gains support.“
    10. April 13, 2018: At its April 13 meeting, COIT's Budget & Performance Subcommittee voted unfortunately to recommend allocating only $300K for the first year of the open source voting project. It's not clear what that money would or could be used for, though, since it falls below the estimates for any of the next steps outlined in Slalom's Report. You can see their matrix of recommended funding amounts (including the open source voting project) in the document on this page called, "FY 2018-19 & FY 2019-20 Subcommittee Budget Recommendations.pdf."
    11. May 4, 2018: At its May 4 meeting, COIT will be voting on whether to approve its Budget & Performance Subcommittee's recommendation to allocate only $300K to the project for the next fiscal year (from August 2018 to July 2019). Mayor Farrell will use COIT's recommendation in deciding how much money to allocate for the project in his proposed budget due to the Board by June 1. And again, to email the Mayor and other key people in the City's budget process to ask them to fund the project, visit this link (same link as above).

    While Chris Jerdonek is a member of the San Francisco Elections Commission, he provides this update as a member of the public and not as a Commissioner.
    The contents of this email can also be found online at

  2. OSI Affiliate Member, The National Association of Voting Officials (NAVO), announced this week the certification of the Prime lll open source election system for the State of Ohio.

    NAVO spokesperson Brent Turner stated the ballot delivery system is, “the first step toward appropriately secure voting systems replacing the ‘secret software‘ systems that have plagued our democracy“. Turner summarized the current proprietary vendor sold U.S. voting systems as, “antiquated, insecure, and a threat to national security,“ and referenced New Hampshire's recent deployment of the “All for One“ open source system based on Prime lll, as further momentum. “We have been focused on Florida, California, and New York to upgrade security and reduce costs as well. Now is the historic moment for all the states to step up and defend our democracy. Paper ballots and audits are a plus, but the essence of vote counting security is the public software.” said Turner.

    Recently State of Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced Federal legislation embracing the movement toward open source / publicly owned paper ballot systems (see, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Securing America’s Elections Act to Ensure Integrity of 2018 Elections,

    Submitted by Brent Turner, The National Association of Voting Officials

  3. Rome (Italy) - March 27, 2018 – Engineering Group, the global IT player and Italian leader in digital transformation, announced their continued sponsorship of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). The OSI is internationally recognized as the stewards of open source software, working to promote and protect open source projects, development and communities. For 20 years the organization has served as the reference point for individuals, non-profit organizations, international enterprises, and governments that recognize the critical role of open source in enabling flexibility, transparency, innovation, and added-value in technology-based products and services.

    Moreover Daniele Gagliardi—Technical Manager at Engineering Group’s Open Source Competency Center—has been re-elected Corporate representative in the Board of Directors of OW2 (, one of the major global open source software communities and an OSI Affiliate Member. It grants the durable and sustainable development of the most adopted and reliable enterprise-level open source solutions. OW2 hosts over 100 open source projects, including Knowage, SpagoBI, Spagic and Spago4Q, realized by Engineering Group.

    As for Knowage—the reference brand for business analytics—the most important novelties, available for download on OW2 marketplace starting from 6.2 version, focus on improved features supporting data inquiry and cross navigation through interactive cockpits, in order to offer even more flexible and effective tools to extract value from one’s business data. For all updates and upcoming events, visit

    “Engineering Group’s sponsorship highlights the broad appeal and value of open source software and the communities of practice that enable its development, we are so grateful to have their support” said Patrick Masson, OSI General Manager. “Engineering Group serves as a model across industries, showcasing how business can authentically engage, as users of open source software, as developers of open source projects, and as contributors to open source communities.”

    About Engineering Group
    Engineering Group ( is the Italian leader in the Information Technology sector, with more than 10,000 employees and 50 sites in Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Republic of Serbia, South America and the United States. The Technical, Innovation & Research Division includes the Open Source Competency Center.

    About The Open Source Initiative
    Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, see

  4. The California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO), and OSI Affiliate Member, is working on several fronts to promote the adoption of open source software in voting systems. In addition to being featured in an upcoming documentary, the group has recently partnered with a California-based elections reform group, focused on limiting the influence of "big money" in politics. Their work has recently seen success at the federal level in the US as well.

    CAVO's Brent Turner will appear in open source voting documentary, "The Real Activist." Slated for release this summer, the film will include an interview with Brent Turner of OSI Affiliate Member CAVO, as well as coverage of the groups work to promote open source software within US elections' voting systems. The documentary highlights Turner's efforts and CAVO's mission to secure the United States election systems through GPL licensed open source software. Famed narrator Peter Coyote also stars in the film along with former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and many political notables.

    One of CAVO's ( recent successes has been to involve California Clean Money in the push for state legislation, as well as the solidification of the San Francisco open source voting system project.

    Turner, along with Bash Shell creator Brian Fox, have been pushing to include open source language in voting legislation, and have secured interest from Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who recently introduced the "Securing America’s Elections Act". Fox, who also serves a National Association of Voting Officials Board Member, said, "We are pleased to see Congresswoman Gabbard leading the country toward safe and secure election systems. The open source software language in her legislation, in addition to the necessary paper ballot component, will give appropriate security direction to the nation's election officials. Congresswoman Gabbard is appreciated as a pioneer advocating the science of protecting our democracy."

    "The language in the Gabbard bill is a good start " adds Turner, "the race is on to see if we can get the election system secured before it's too late."

    People interested in the subject of open source voting are invited to attend the CAVO TOWN HALL meeting on March 28th in San Francisco, California.

    Image credit, Vote by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

  5. The OSI's 2018 elections ran from February 3, with the opening of nominations, through March 16, when the voting was closed at 12:00 midnight PDT. This year's Board of Directors election sought to fill two Affiliate Member seats, and two Individual Member seats.

    Voting in OSI elections is open to all OSI Individual Members and the community representative of each OSI Affiliate Member. Only the Individual Members may vote in the election of Individual Member seats and only the Affiliate Member representatives may vote in the election of Affiliate Member seats (only one vote per Affiliate Member, as submitted by the affiliate representative). Elections for OSI Directors are held according to "approval voting", where each eligible voter votes for as many candidates as they feel are qualified to hold a Board seat. The candidates supported by the greatest number of voters are elected to the open seats.

    Again, in this year's election, the OSI was fortunate with a slate of highly qualified and enthusiastic candidates. The complete list of candidates running for Individual and Affiliate seats is available on the OSI wiki.

    The OSI would like to thank all of those who ran for the Board. Volunteering to serve the OSI and support the Open Source community is a tremendous commitment in time and energy--we truly appreciate their willingness to contribute to our continued success and participate in our ongoing work to promote and protect open source software, communities, and development as well as the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

    The winners of the 2018 Board of Directors elections are,

    1. VM Brasseur (elected by the Individual Membership)
    2. Chris Lamb (elected by the Affiliate Membership)
    3. Faidon Liambotis (elected by the Affiliate Membership)
    4. Josh Simmons (elected by the Individual Membership)

    We would like to welcome the new Board Directors and thank the OSI membership for voting. The current Board will meet on Monday, March 19, 2018 to ratify the election results. New Board Directors will take their seats on April 2nd, 2018.

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