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Open Source Voting

Mitch Trachtenberg, the originator of TEVS (Transparent Electronic Voting System), demonstrates how it is used to an audience in San Rafael, California.

Election Transparency Project

The TEVS system, developed in 2006, is the ONLY OPEN SOURCE, TRANSPARENT SYSTEM FOR COUNTING VOTES IN THE UNITED STATES. It is still in regular use in Humboldt County. Right now, it is being used as a recounting system to double-check of the vote-counting of the Hart InterCivic system in Humboldt County. The system of Hart InterCivic has been showing up well in that county, unlike the Diebold system which was used previously. The tabulation system was pioneered in 2006 by Mitch Trachtenberg, a computer programmer, together with Carolyn Crnich, registrar of Humboldt County and Kevin Collins, election integrity activist. The election showed up a significant problems in their Diebold system they were using in counting votes. As result of these problems, Diebold abruptly severed its business relationship with Humboldt. Carolyn then switched to another voting company, Hart InterCivic but also kept the TEVS system functioning. Carolyn also purchased at the time she introduced TEVS a high speed scanner that could operate independently of a voting machine company, so that the tabulation of votes through TEVS could be done independent of the Hart InterCivic system as well.

When Carolyn Crnich introduced the TEVS system into her county, she received tremendous appreciation from her voters in her county. She was voted the most popular elected official in Humboldt County and has maintained that position in ongoing years. She won this popularity because she was embracing the voters needs to be able to trust the vote counting systems used. The transparent and open source quality were very important to the voters because the voters and candidates were both able to look at the ballots if they wanted to. In the years that she has continued to use the TEVS system as a recounting system, she has received no recount requests after she has referred candidates requesting the recounts to the second count of the ballots on the TEVS system. When both systems have counted the approximately the same amount of ballots, people have been reassured. Making ballots viewable and recounting of ballots on two systems independent of each other is done nowhere else in the United States. As far as I know, currently, with the exception of Humboldt County, all votes in our country are counted by voting machine companies. A few verifying hand counts have been done in other places, but not many.

In 2010, with a grant made possible by Threshold Foundation, Carolyn Crnich and Tom Stannionis of Yolo County both used the TEVS system and received an award for excellence in election integrity from the Institute for American Democracy and Election Integrity. This year, 2012, the Institute hopes to introduce the TEVS system to five counties together with another grant from Threshold Foundation. Counties , in addition to Humboldt County, that are considering using the TEVS system this year, include Santa Clara, San Luis Obispo , Mendocino, Nevada, Shasta, Yolo and parts of San Francisco County.

If a certain number of counties use this system this year, we are certain that Carolyn Crnich will receive enough publicity to be able to make some major presentations at two conferences, one in July and one in December, for California Registrars so that they can understand really how helpful the TEVS system is in inspiring citizens to vote. People in other states have also expressed interest in TEVS. If this much publicity is given to the TEVS system this year, we are quite confident that this system will spread to some other states. In so doing, more people in the US would have a chance to participate in a voting system they could truly trust.

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