The OSET Institute, founded in 2006, is a Silicon Valley-based (U.S. tax-exempt) independent non-partisan global election technology research & development organization focused on innovations in public voting technology what we call "critical democracy infrastructure." Its flagship fiscally sponsored initiative is the TrustTheVote Project.
The OSET Institute mission is to research and develop innovations in publicly available (i.e., "open source") election technology for any democracy in the world to adopt, adapt and deploy in order to:
- Increase voting system integrity and security;
- Lower costs of election administration equipment, tools, and services; and
- Improve confidence in elections and their outcomes.
A necessary outcome of our work is to provide breakthrough public technology on which the commercial industry can deliver finished election and voting systems more trustworthy than anything available today.
The most fundamental aspect of democracies everywhere -- the process of public elections -- is at risk. Election technology infrastructure in many parts of the world has deteriorated to the point of becoming an issue of national security. Current voting systems design and implementation are vulnerable to attack and compromise, and have resulted in questionable elections outcomes. Existing technology is antique to the point of obsolescence; in fact, the underlying architecture is inherently flawed.
When voting is problematic and frustrating, trust is diminished in this vital process of democracy. Citizens believe it's too hard to vote, or their votes don't matter, or may not even be counted as cast. Lines are long, sign-in processes are inefficient, ballots are badly designed, audit and verification is weak, and technology is poorly utilized. When the process of voting lacks verifiability, accuracy, security, and transparency in process, elections and their outcomes are questioned and reduced to recounts, litigation, or worse. This risks the operational continuity of democracy devolving into chaos or a constitutional crisis.
Failing voting technology infrastructure -- globally -- is a threat to democracy everywhere. It's a persistent problem due to a failed market. There is no commercial incentive to innovate voting technology, making election integrity a gamble dependent on expensive proprietary systems with well-known vulnerabilities.
The OSET Institute is developing innovative and more secure voting technology (an“election technology framework -- called ElectOS) as (open source) public infrastructure to increase integrity, lower cost, improve usability, and ultimately expand participation. A visual tour of ElectOS can be viewed here (bit.ly/EOSt1). To complement ElectOS, the Institute also develops complementary technology for citizen-facing needs; here are few examples:
- 3rd party voter registration tools (Rock The Vote is our largest technology partner)
- BusyBooth -- An App that helps you know the best time to go to your polling place.
- Ballot.ly -- An App & Service for practice ballots from comfort of your home
- VoteReady -- Essentially "LifeLock" for your voter registration record (to see more, watch this)
- Vanadium -- a Blockchain verification ledger to protect voter registration databases
The success of this massively transformative nonprofit project will reinvent how democracies worldwide can conduct trustworthy elections in the 21st century. The Institute employs a 4-point strategy based on decades of business development experience in commercial technology markets to ensure success of the project:
- Stakeholders -- We engage election officials in the requirements and specifications for the development of ElectOS. This ensures this freely available voting technology meets or exceeds the requirements of those who administer elections, and that the new technology is publicly owned and free of restrictive commercial agenda.
- Standards -- The Institute is helping drive development of global open election data and protocol standards to ensure interoperability, uniform implementation, and maximum transparency.
- Innovation -- Utilizing and leveraging decades of product creation, development, and management at American-based global companies like Apple, Google, Mozilla, Netscape, Sun Microsystems and others, the TrustTheVote Project is bringing the very best unbridled innovation possible to the creation of ElectOS.
- Ownership -- All software technology is available under an OSI-accredited open source public license, and we are prosecuting over a dozen patents to be assigned to the public in order to protect public ownership of ElectOS.
Helping Defend Democracy -- While 85% of the Institute's work is in software development, 10% of our efforts are in cybersecurity advisory, and 5% is in facilitating public policy advancement.
Transformative Work -- Not only can ElectOS restore trust in voting, it will ensure elections are verifiable, accurate, secure, and transparent in process, which will catalyze increasing participation.
Global Solution -- 40% of inquiries to the OSET Institute are from abroad. OSET already has established collaboration with the Canadian Ontario government, and has been invited to present our work in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia.
Generational Platform -- Above all, ElectOS is imperative condition precedent to one day enabling Internet voting (which can maximize participation), and ElectOS is important to making possible other capabilities such as more transparent data and analysis; evidence-based elections; and more.
To learn more please contact:
Director, Citizen Outreach