[Linux-aus] Grant request: Contribution to Senate voting source code FOI request review.

James Polley jamezpolley at gmail.com
Mon Jun 23 18:00:50 EST 2014

On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 5:26 PM, Bret Busby <bret at busby.net> wrote:

> On Mon, 23 Jun 2014, James Polley wrote:
> > Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:14:24
> > From: James Polley <jamezpolley at gmail.com>
> > To: Chris Neugebauer <chrisjrn at gmail.com>
> > Cc: council <council at linux.org.au>,
> >     Linux Australia <linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au>
> > Subject: Re: [Linux-aus] Grant request: Contribution to Senate voting
> source
> >     code FOI request review.
> >
> > I support this application, so much so that I've thrown some of my own
> money towards the cause as well.
> >
> >> On 23 Jun 2014, at 11:56, Chris Neugebauer <chrisjrn at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> Hey all,
> >>
> >> One of our members, Michael Cordover, has been going through the
> >> Freedom of Information process to gain access to the source code used
> >> by the Australian Electoral Commision to tally Senate votes in
> >> Australian federal elections.
> >>
> >> Michael's process, including all correspondence with the AEC, has been
> >> thoroughly documented here at [0].
> >>
> >> The AEC declined the FOI request, and Michael is currently seeking
> >> appeal through the administrative appeals tribunal, as the free review
> >> process was performed by the OAIC, a body being disbanded through the
> >> 2014-15 federal budget process.
> >>
> >> The appeal requires a lodgement fee of some $850. Michael is in the
> >> process of crowd funding this request [1].
> >>
> >> Whilst I'm not a lawyer, I've been following the process quite closely
> >> since it started, and have been deeply bemused by the AEC's arguments,
> >> which I personally feel are either technically flawed or absurd.
> >>
> >> I believe that the goal of the FOI request, and associated review, is
> >> well in line with Linux Australia's values [2], in particular, that of
> >> "Freedom", which explicitly states:
> >>
> >> "We value free access to, sharing of and repurposing of information,
> >> in particular that information held by the public sector."
> >>
> >> I'd like to request that, as a showing of support, Linux Australia
> >> make a small contribution, not exceeding $150 to the crowdfunding
> >> campaign.
> >>
> >>
> >> --Chris
> >>
> >
> What is the purpose of the application?

I believe Michael has attempted to answer this question on the Pozible site
(http://www.pozible.com/project/183015) and his mini-site (

Do you have specific questions about details he hasn't clarified?

> Is it to simply challenge the methodology of the AEC in counting senate
> votes?
> If so, is that an appropriate action for the involvement of Linux
> Australia?
> Is the purpose of the application, to lead to a challenge to the
> appropriateness of the method of selection of members of the senate, by
> such a bodgy system that prewvents democratic elevction of membvers of
> the parliament?
> If so, is that an appropraite action for the involvement of Linux
> Australia?
I believe there has been consistent evidence that the majority of the LA
community supports the notion that the workings of our government should be
open and accountable.

For instance, LCA 2013 ran an Open Government miniconf (

The LA statement of values (http://linux.org.au/values) starts with a very
broad statement:

    As an organisation, we aim to represent and assist the groups and
individuals who make up the Free Software and Open Source communities in

If, as I believe, a large proportion of the groups and individuals who make
up the Free Software and Open Source communities in Australia believe that
it would be in our interest to do what we can to make sure that the senate
vote counting process is open and accountable, I think it falls within LA's
mandate to represent and assist the groups and individuals in achieving
that end.

> I believe that, if not for the general apathy that prevails, all pof the
> Australian electorate should challenge the unrepresentative swill that
> is the senate, and, the lack of democratic election of that particular
> bunch of freeloaders that have no useful purpose.
> If the purpose of the application, is to seek to obtain a copy of the
> source code, so that a version could be ported to a Linux platform, such
> a statement appears to be conspicuous by its absence, from the preceding
> messages in the thread, and, I believe that that particular statement of
> purpose, should be the only justification for the involvement of Linux
> Australia.

This seems to me to be a much narrower understanding of Linux Australia's
goals than stated in the Statement of Values. Could you expand on why you
feel that this is the only justified involvement of LA?

> For individual people to rebel against , and, to start a campaign to
> rebel against, the bodgy system of parliament, and, the bodgy selection
> of members of the parliament, and, to seek to replace the bodgy system,
> with a democratic parliament that is democratically elected, is
> definitely needed (if the general apathy of the Australian public, could
> be overcome), but, that is surely not the purpose of Linux Australia,
> and, in the absence of a statement explicitly stating the purpose of the
> application to be solely for the purpose of seeking to create a port to
> a Linux platform, whilst the cause may be justified in its own right,
> surely, it is not an appropriate cause for the involvement of Linux
> Australia.

I note that your discussion here about rebellion; your description of the
system as bodgy, your implication that the current parliament was not
democratically elected, and so on, are not things that have been mentioned
by Michael as having anything to do with the specific goals he's aiming for
right now.

Could we confine the discussion to whether or not this particular grant
application should be supported? I feel like the broader discussion is
something we could more profitably have later on.

> --
> Bret Busby
> Armadale
> West Australia
> ..............
> "So once you do know what the question actually is,
>   you'll know what the answer means."
> - Deep Thought,
>    Chapter 28 of Book 1 of
>    "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
>    A Trilogy In Four Parts",
>    written by Douglas Adams,
>    published by Pan Books, 1992
> ....................................................
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> linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au
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