A Common Data Format for Elections: a Language of Democracy

Neal McBurnett - Vice-Chair, IEEE P1622 Voting Systems Electronic Data Interchange Project

Member, OASIS Election Services Working Group (EML) EVN 2012-03-30

neal@mcburnett.org - http://neal.mcburnett.org

IEEE P1622 committee: http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1622/

NIST page on P1622: http://www.nist.gov/itl/vote/ieee-swg-p1622.cfm

OASIS Election Services working group (EML): http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/election

(Disclaimer: my view of active work in progress - stay tuned)

Benefits of a long-term perspective

Data formats: essentially the language of computers and networks

The Internet itself is based on a core language for how different computers, on different kinds of networks from different vendors can all simply talk to each other, and share formats. E.g. names for mailboxes, like "neal@mcburnett.org" or computers, like electionverification.org and google.com.

Compare that with instant messaging. Wide variety of systems that don't talk to each other: Google Talk, AIM, IRC, etc. Frustrating.

Look at how it applies to some of our problems:

Given a standard, expect free translation tools to move data to and from existing systems.

Increased opportunity for cooperation between jurisdictions

Vision of a world with a widely used election data format - a Language of Democracy!

Please participate in standards, or make sure your interests are well represented

My short term goals:

Ensure that Pew and IEEE use same format for Voter Registration - avoid extra work for states

Help get good election reporting and auditing draft standards in place for early adopters this fall, finish in 2013.