[Linux-aus] Grant request: Contribution to Senate voting source code FOI request review.
jamezpolley at gmail.com
Tue Jun 24 08:45:08 EST 2014
> On 24 Jun 2014, at 02:22, Bret Busby <bret at busby.net> wrote:
>> On Mon, 23 Jun 2014, James Polley wrote:
>> Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 16:00:50
>> From: James Polley <jamezpolley at gmail.com>
>> To: Bret Busby <bret at busby.net>
>> Cc: Linux Australia <linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au>
>> Subject: Re: [Linux-aus] Grant request: Contribution to Senate voting source
>> code FOI request review.
>>> 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
>>>> 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 .
>>>>> 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 .
>>>>> 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 , 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
>>> 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
>>> If so, is that an appropriate action for the involvement of Linux
>>> 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
>> 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.
> But then, if Linux Australia is not confined to issues relating to
> Linux, and, is to be involved in pursuing the concern "that the
> workings of our government be open and accountable", where is the line
> to be drawn?
LA has not been confined to issues relating to Linux for many years.
The statement of values refers to "Free Software and Open Source".
You seem to be suggesting that we ignore all of the FOSS world except
for the Linux kernel (and maybe some distinctions perhaps?) for fear
that we might one day stretch too far.
I agree that overstretch is a concern; and I thank you for
highlighting this. I do think that it's important we do keep this in
mind as we go forward, and I'm happy to know that we have people such
as yourself looking out for it.
I don't think it makes sense for us to go backwards to being just
about Linux just to avoid possibly one day overstretching. Further, I
don't think this particular issue is an overstretch at all: to me it
seems like it's in line with LA's core mission.
As I see it, the core issue here is around how to replace the
scrutineering of paper votes as those votes get digitised and counted
by computer instead of by humans. As free software advocates, we would
argue that in order to achieve the same level of scrutiny requires
that as much as possible of the system used to do the counting be open
to scrutiny - possibly not Free Software in the strictest sense of the
FSFs definitions, but at the very least we need to be able to inspect
and validate the operation of the software.
I feel that this makes this particular issue quite directly an Open
Technology issue; one which LA is uniquely positioned to support due
to our collective decades of experience in understanding and
advocating for the use of Free/Open software in support of broader
> Should Linux Australia then become involved in lobbying for a judicial
> enquiry into the influencing of the ACT magistracy, by the federal
> attoney general, in the case of the member of the politburo who was let
> off the drunk driving charge ("You should let our little mate off - our
> little mate has immunity, because she IS our little mate"), or, involved
> in lobbying for an enquiry by the UN, into why the Australian federal
> parliament, having signed a document that stated that the International
> Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, "entered into force in
> Australia", more than thirty years ago, but, has never been of any
> effect, with the previous government (and, this is not just
> limited to the ALP/Greens Party - it equally applies to the LNP) having
> decided that Australians are not entitled to human rights, despite the
> "consultative process" (and all of the resources and money that that
> involved), having showed that the people who took part, made it clear
> that Australians should have human rights, and, legislative protection
> of human rights?
I wasn't aware that we had any Australian body called "the politburo",
so I don't know what you're talking about here. In any case it seems
to be irrelevant to the case at hand.
> Sure, we should have open and accountable government, and, we should
> have democratic government, and, democratically elected government, and,
> we should have human rights, and, the corruption should be eliminated.
> But, is it what Linux Australia is supposed to be about?
> Or, is Linux Australia, supposed to be solely about furthering the cause
> of the Linux community?
> I believe the question is, what exactly, is Linux Australia, supposed to
> be about?
I believe that question was answered several years ago, when the
council at the time hashed out the Statement of Values after
consultation with the community - you can see the mailing list thread
announcing this at
(and several other threads in that month).
I believe that this particular issue falls well within LA's remit.
> Bret Busby
> 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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