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Machine politics

It's been nine years since John Sebes ’84 and Gregory Miller set out to make election technology more transparent by starting the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation. But for more than six of those years, the foundation has been tied up in a protracted dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over its tax-exempt status. Yesterday, the foundation announced that they have at last been granted that status. "The IRS has finally put us at the starting point that we had reasonably hoped to be at about 5 years ago," wrote Sebes on the foundation's blog yesterday.

Although the resolution comes amid the current controversy over the IRS's scrutiny of political groups seeking tax-exempt status, the agency's concerns over open-source groups had less to do with politics than with the possibility that they were ways for potential profit-making entities to do their product development under the guise of a nonprofit. (Wired's story on OSDV yesterday explains it all.)

With the long battle behind them, OSDV can raise contributions and turn its full attention to its raison d'être, a project called Trust the Vote that aims to create open-source software for voting machines and make information about voting technology—and election data—more freely available to the public. (Sebes outlined his goals more specifically in a 2009 blog post.)

Filed under Open Source Digital Voting Foundation, John Sebes, Trust the Vote, elections, IRS
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