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[News] In Defence of Free Software on Election/Voting Machines

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On open source vs. disclosed source voting systems

,----[ Quote ]
| On Tuesday, the Election Technology Council (a trade association of four 
| major American voting system manufacturers) put out a white paper on 
| open-source and voting systems. It's nice to see them finally talking about 
| the issue, but there's a distinctive cluelessness in this paper about what, 
| exactly, open source is and what it means for a system to be secure. For 
| example, in a sidebar titled "Disclosed vs. Open: Clarifying Misconceptions", 
| the report states:      
|     ... taking a software product that was once proprietary and disclosing 
|     its full source code to the general public will result in a complete 
|     forfeiture of the software's security ... Although computer scientists 
|     chafe at the thought of "security through obscurity," there remains some 
|     underlying truths to the idea that software does maintain a level of 
|     security through the lack of available public knowledge of the inner 
|     workings of a software program.       
| Really? No. Disclosing the source code only results in a complete forfeiture 
| of the software's security if there was never any security there in the first 
| place. If the product is well-engineered, then disclosing the software will 
| cause no additional security problems. If the product is poorly-engineered, 
| then the lack of disclosure only serves the purpose of delaying the 
| inevitable.     


Open-source misperceptions live on

,----[ Quote ]
| The enterprises, vendors, developers, analysts, and journalists I speak with 
| regularly are mostly pretty savvy about the basics of open source at this 
| point. Even if they're not licensing geeks or otherwise expert in all the 
| minutiae and subtle implications of open-source development, community, and 
| usage, they generally have the important basics down.    



Open source could fix e-voting flaws, California secretary of state says

,----[ Quote ]
| California Secretary of State Debra Bowen argued Thursday that open source
| software can help fix some of the flaws in electronic voting systems, which
| have proliferated throughout the country since the 2000 election yet been
| criticized as unreliable.


The brazilian Election Supreme Court migrates 430 thousand voting machines to
GNU / Linux

,----[ Quote ]
| The brazilian Election Supreme Court announced at April 4th 2008, that the
| 2008 elections at Brazil will use GNU / Linux electronic voting machines with
| software digital authentication.
| The Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (the brazilian Election Supreme Court),
| officially announced on April 4th, 2008, that the brazilian 2008 elections
| will use 430 thousand electronic voting machines migrated from VirtuOS and
| Windows CE to GNU / Linux and open source softwares for security and auditing
| defined by proper law.


Hacking a voting machine

,----[ Quote ]
| This kind of makes you question the whole e-voting system. I am not
| suggesting you try this, but I am suggesting you question the reliability of
| these systems. Are any of these machines safe? Don't forget to check out the
| other, equally disturbing, video on the web site.


Diebold Finally Admits its Voting Machines Drop Votes

,----[ Quote ]
| Premier Election Solutions, formerly called Diebold Election Systems, has
| finally admitted that a ten-year-old error has caused votes to be dropped.
| [...]
| In other news, election officials sometimes take voting machines home for the
| night.


Open-source gadgets at LinuxWorld

,----[ Quote ]
| Bug Labs was also on hand, showing off a few new updates to its Bug Base
| gadget platform. The hardware is essentially the same, but the software
| interface for the Lego-like gadget prototyper has been improved. The device
| now runs Poky Linux--which is intended for small devices--and now has a Web
| browser and window environment. The software update, available in either late
| August or early September, will also support Wi-Fi. Also, we hear the
| MMCmicro card slot will be switched out in favor of microSD in the next
| version.


Open-source e-voting gets LinuxWorld test run

,----[ Quote ]
| The system, which was set here at LinuxWorld for show attendees to view and
| vote in mock elections, runs on PCs loaded with Ubuntu Linux and the free,
| open source e-voting application created by the consortium.


LinuxWorld gets an open source voting tryout

,----[ Quote ]
| The Open Voting Consortium is giving its open source based voting machines a
| trial run at LinuxWorld, currently being held in San Francisco. In a mock
| election ballot for the 2008 Presidential election, attendees will be able to
| vote and see the votes tallied on a half hourly basis and see how the system
| supports recounts.


Open-source electronic voting

,----[ Quote ]
| An election worker would then scan the bar code to record the vote. At the
| end of the election or at choice points during the day, a tally sheet could
| be printed, also with a barcode. The barcode uses Open Source PDF-417, a
| standard that is also used in identification cards and inventory systems and
| can be read by most scanners. Within the two-dimensional bar code is a
| numerical-coded sequence that shows how a person voted. There is also a
| unique identifier so that the ballot cannot be counted a second time. The
| printed ballot cannot be linked with a specific person, but the ballot can be
| associated with the electronic tally stored in the computer.


Could Linux Change Democracy?

,----[ Quote ]
| These Linux machines started me thinking about the ideals behind Linux (and
| open source) and how they could be put to work within the workings of
| government. The ideals I’m referring to are its process: transparency,
| accountability and meritocracy based on contributions. Last year I was quoted
| in an article about Open Legislation.


Voting machine gets LinuxWorld tryout

,----[ Quote ]
| On Tuesday their machine will be put to the test at LinuxWorld in San
| Francisco, where the 10,000 people who are expected to attend the conference
| will get to vote in a mock presidential election pitting Barack Obama against
| John McCain.
| "The voting system in the U.S. is still not sufficiently accurate to
| determine the winner in a very close election," said Dechert, who has worked
| at Borland International and Intel developing and testing software. "By the
| time we're done (with the mock election), nobody will have any doubt."
| The LinuxWorld conference is held every year in San Francisco to discuss
| open-source software - software whose code is designed and maintained by
| volunteers. The conference takes its name from Linux, a computer operating
| system designed by Linus Torvalds in the 1990s that has a passionate
| following. It competes against Microsoft Windows and has spawned software for
| numerous devices, including voting machines.


Are You Ready for Open Voting?

,----[ Quote ]
| They're putting their money where their mouth is, too: they've developed a
| prototype system in Python on Linux that is open source and designed for ease
| of use, as well as to preserve a paper trail. The current goal is to get the
| system adopted by California in time for the 2008 elections.


Voting 2.0, Part 2: The Open Source Proposition

,----[ Quote ]
| As designed, however, the Ubuntu-based system is also voter-verifiable
| because the public can review in advance the screens they'll see on Election
| Day, presented as pre-rendered picture files.



Microsoft Muscles the NYS Legislature

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft’s proposed change to state law would effectively render
| our current requirements for escrow and the ability for independent
| review of source code in the event of disputes completely meaningless
| - and with it the protections the public fought so hard for.


,----[ Quote ]
| Problems found in an audit of Diebold tabulation records from an Ohio
| November 2006 election raise questions about whether the database got
| corrupted during the tabulation of election results...
| The database is built from Microsoft's Jet database engine. The
| engine, according to Microsoft, is vulnerable to corruption when a lot
| of concurrent activity is happening with the database, such as what
| occurs on an election night [and Microsoft advises againt using Jet in
| a complex environment]...
| The report mentions that election staff had trouble with the server
| crashing and freezing on election night....
| The report notes that with punch card machines election officials used
| to be able to determine definitively if all ballots had been counted
| in the results....

Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)


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