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Ovid (2709)

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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Tuesday May 06, 2003
08:30 AM

Open Source E-Voting

[ #12041 ]

We're programmers. We get to see, every day, the general quality of software that's out there. Even great software has bugs. That's why I, for one, am very suspicious of electronic voting. Today I read another story about problems with e-voting. In this case, it sounds like it may have been hardware problems, but that's not an excuse when "democracy" is on the line.

BT - the outfit behind the St Albans trial - said the computers which "experienced faults" were "installed by one of the contractors employed by BT to deliver technology and services to the local authorities".

In the above, I'm assuming that BT is British Telecom (though I could be way off case there). In any event, there are a few questions I'm curious about. How was BT vetted? How was the code vetted? Who were the contractors and were they vetted? There are enough problems with electronic voting that I certainly don't want temporary employees involved.

How to fix this? I think the first step would be to make the code open source. Anyone with a passing knowledge of cryptography is going to tell you that open source crypto is just as secure as closed course and, in fact, more so because we get a chance to see what it's doing and if we still can't break it, then it's more likely to be secure.

In the case of e-voting, I want all levels of security experts poring over that code, the network it runs on, the operating systems involved, etc. What's the point of my voting if I can no longer trust that my vote counts? What could possibly be the justification of keeping this code hidden from the public? If it's secure, it's secure. If it's not secure, they don't want us to know.

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  • I've never seen an electronic voting system that wasn't laughable once you dug into the details, in one way or another. It's frustrating. It's sad/funny how most of the people I know who really think electronic voting is the answer to our voting woes don't know a lot about computers at all, except for how to use
  • Y'know, as "secure" and "reliable" as most voting systems seem to be in this highly vaunted Real World, I frankly think I'd rather see eVoting. Personally, this tells me there'll be a slant towards geeky smart individuals rigging elections, instead of large corrupt organizations, such as the Mafia, or Congress, or <insert your favorite hated in-power-group type here>.

    To you, it looks like subversion of the modern political system -- to me, it looks like my only chance to be represented.

    And before


    You are what you think.
    • Of course large corrupt organizations have no chance of hiring geeky smart individuals to rig anything for them.

      One big problem with electronic voting (aside from the issue of easier, less traceable fraud) is that in a democracy all voters need to be able to understand and trust the voting process. Anyone can understand making marks on pieces of paper and counting them, but we're a long way from everyone being able to understand an electronic voting system, especially one that's reasonably secure.
      • Of course large corrupt organizations have no chance of hiring geeky smart individuals to rig anything for them.

        *shrug* Work is work. Besides, this would install a sort of automatic geek-valence to any tampering. If geeks were hired, they probably couldn't be convinced to get senators elected that were in favor of, say, draconian DRM. The geeks subvert the process, and if they get thrown out of the job -- so what? They'll get new ones working for the people who just got elected.

        One big problem


        You are what you think.
        • Who do you think is writing the software that does the spamming and DRM and spying now? Software doesn't write itself, and it's not being written by penis-enlarger salesmen and RIAA officials and senators. Geeks are not the incorruptible shining beacons of holiness that you seem to believe, and even those that have unshakable beliefs don't all have the same beliefs.

          Also, if you're out of power and you subvert the process by rigging the elections, you get sent to prison for a long time. If you're in powe