[E-voting] E-voting machines to be used in UK

Colm MacCarthaigh colm at stdlib.net
Wed Oct 25 15:20:41 IST 2006

On Wed, Oct 25, 2006 at 02:54:11PM +0100, Louise Ferguson wrote:
> They'd be directed to individuals who know something about the issue.
> Who would tell them the reasons why the range of e-voting options currently
> live in the UK are not a particularly good idea; why some options are worse
> than others; what the experience has been in other jurisdictions; and what
> the holes are in the UK government argument. In other words, provide a
> counterweight to the government line and the vendor line.
> And added to that there'd be some input in press approach terms, to ensure
> some snappy quotes.

Cool :-) It's important to note though that what really suceeds in these
things is volunteer dedication. People need to be absolutely passionate
about an issue to really get somewhere, because it takes a *lot* of
work. So it's important to look for that and recognise it when you see
it, and then get out of their way and do everything you can to help

> But seriously, in high-level general terms, policy is guided by the Advisory
> Council (AC), who help to inform the organisation on particular policy
> areas, help us decide on what policy areas to focus at any given time, and
> so on (there are around 12 areas on the table at the moment I believe). We
> actually share one AC member with Liberty, and there's also some overlap
> with FIPR AC and Trustees (while Shami of Liberty is a FIPR AC member, so
> you could argue this is all very incestuous).

That kind of structure is pretty much the exact opposite of what we have
here, and it's bit far from what DRI has too. I don't know the specifics
of your set-up, but those kinds of structures can lead to dangerous
amounts of internal politics, committee inertia and resentment with
volunteers. It can also attract the exact wrong type of people,
CV-fillers, status-seekers and power-nuts. 

Knowing many of the people involved in ORG at some level though (well
Duw, Cory and Ben) it's hard to see it going far wrong, but still I'm
surprised to heere it described in terms of top-down policy like that.

> And I'm not sure that lack of money is a good thing. The vast majority of
> NFP campaigns and organiations fail owing to lack of resources, 

Money is one of the least important resourcs. Talent and passion matter
*way* more. We get a lot done without a cent, and on at least one
ocasional it totally saved my bacon that we hadn't got a penny to our

> in the UK at least. Lots of people may think certain things, but it
> takes *somebody* to spend *some time* over a significant period to get
> something done, and unless they are independently wealthy, or have
> jobs that provide them with endless free daytime hours, this can be a
> problem in the longer term. 

You can't pay someone to be passionate about something. And I know that
the people involved in ICTE are very busy people, with businesses to
run, work and college committments to fulfill, and more.

If you are missing that dedication, try to look for fundamental reasons
why, are potential participants being discouraged because they find it
overly officious? How low is the barrier to participation? Will paying
someone make this worse? Would volunteers then resent that others are
being paid when they are not? 

> People want weekends, evenings...A life. That's why activity by
> volunteers eventually, and almost always, peters out (people graduate,
> or get married, or get too old to stay up all night, or just get plain
> tired). In the world of NFPs, the biggest response to anything is "I
> don't have any - more - time". Money can buy that time (and usually at
> a low wage compared to the private sector).

Talk to Ben Laurie about Open Source, and how OpenSSL and the ASF
maintain a very long term focus despite volunteer churn.

Fundamentally, ORG seemsto have things in hand anyway, and be doing a
better job than others who have gone before, but there may well be
lessons to be learned from ICTE and others :)

Colm MacCárthaigh                        Public Key: colm+pgp at stdlib.net

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