RealTime IT News

OASIS Begins Work on Election Markup Language

If this works out, open-source fans would have a worthy achievement to cheer after the 2000 election recount debacle in Florida.

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a non-profit XML interoperability consortium, this week put the finishing touches on a technical committee to standardize the exchange of election and voter services information using XML.

Succinctly titled Election Markup Language, the standard, when hashed out by the new OASIS Election and Voter Services Technical Committee, would guide such data as voter registration and ballots safely among hardware, software and vendors.

The OASIS specification will also support private elections, such as those held by publicly traded corporations, trade associations, labor unions, pension funds, credit unions and not-for-profit organizations.

The importance of such a standard development language is underscored by the 50-odd luminous technology companies who have offered their support, including IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Also, Accenture, election.com and Microsoft are founding sponsor members of the new group. OASIS also said governmental and non-governmental organizations around the world will also participate, providing expert input and analysis on election technology and procedures.

Karl Best, OASIS director of technical operations, said that although there are other automated election services around the world, EML, like Java, would be open and would operate cross-platform to benefit vendors.

"Voters and taxpayers around the world will benefit from open standard election solutions that save money, increase auditability and most importantly, safeguard the sanctity of every vote," Gregg McGilvray of election.com, chair of the new OASIS Election and Voter Services Technical Committee.

The development work will include voter registration, dues collection, change of address tracking, citizen/membership credentialing, redistricting, requests for absentee/expatriate ballots, election calendaring, polling place management, election notification, ballot delivery and tabulation, election results reporting and demographics.

Spokesperson Carol Geyer said OASIS would work on a draft of the EML standard over the next 6 months and would meet on EML officially three months later.