By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2008, 1:41pm PT  

We were both pleased and mildly surprised to see the invitation arrive from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) a few weeks back, asking us to come to DC, on their dime, to participate this coming Thursday in a one day "Voting Advocate Roundtable Discussion" on the proposed 2007 federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG).

Our invitation, from EAC Chair Rosemary Rodriguez, is posted at the end of this article.

Even while we've been nothing short of merciless in our criticism of the EAC, over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, the outreach is both welcome and appreciated, even as we are always very aware of all of the pitfalls associated with participating in such a process. Yet, with our eyes wide open, we see the opportunity to participate in the process, in hopes --- futile or otherwise --- of attempting to steer it back towards the rails which were jumped at the federal level long ago, as a hopefully positive one. Call us eternal optimists, but, as long time readers here likely recognize, we have never been one to slap down an olive branch offered, for whatever reason it may have been offered in the first place.

As you might suspect, we have some very strong opinions about the VVSG --- all 598 dizzying, yet wholly inadequate pages of it [PDF] --- and the disastrous course it will continue to enable for our election system, if accepted as currently proposed.

For a number of reasons, not the least of which was today's important primary in PA, we thought it better to be in or near the BRAD BLOG Anchor Desk this week, rather than in the air all day Wednesday, off the grid all day Thursday for the meeting, and back in the air all day Friday...

So this time around, we've called on computer security expert --- and transparent election advocate --- Dr. Rebecca Mercuri of Notable Software to represent The BRAD BLOG in person at Thursday's EAC roundtable. If any of you are familiar with Dr. Mercuri (see her guest blog on our pages last year for just a taste, if you're not: "The Electric Kool-Aid Voting Test"), you know she's unlikely to disappoint in holding the citizens' banner high on our behalf. We're also preparing no-uncertain-terms written testimony for their record, which we will post here later this week.

Also, among the invitees to this session, were Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org (who has declined to attend) and our pal John Gideon of VotersUnite.org who, for similar reasons to ours, is sending software specialist John Washburn to represent VU.

As mentioned, our written testimony will be posted in full here, later this week [Update: Our full statement to the EAC, now posted here], followed perhaps, by details on Thursday's forum from Dr. Mercuri in the days following. But for now, the two-page invitation sent to us, as signed by EAC Chair Rosemary Rodriguez, can be downloaded here [PDF] and is posted in full below...

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