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[News] Voting Machine Made More Secure by Freeing Source Code

  • Subject: [News] Voting Machine Made More Secure by Freeing Source Code
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2007 13:02:56 +0100
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: Netscape / schestowitz.com
  • User-agent: KNode/0.10.4
Making the World Safe For Voting Machine Vendors

,----[ Quote ]
| The current version of Holt’s bill up for vote this week backs off of the 
| public right to inspect voting machine software, open source code, in a big 
| way and lets vendors keep secret the software and methods that determine your 
| elections. Let me put it another way, you don’t get to see how the voting 
| machines work that elect the officials who govern you – ever!    


Voting machines ditch ballots in Scotland

,----[ Quote ]
| In total, 140,000 ballots were logged as spoilt. The BBC says more than half 
| of these were rejected by the machines, with no chance for a person to judge 
| whether or not the ballot was actually spoilt.  


That's quite a fiasco.


Halt e-voting, says election body

,----[ Quote ]
| Despite the commission saying security needed to be "strengthened", Mr Will 
| said: "We are pleased that the evaluations point to a high level of system 
| security and user confidence in e-voting systems tested and that the security 
| and integrity of the polls was not compromised.   


Most vote machines lose test to hackers

,----[ Quote ]
| "The vendors appeared to have designed systems that were not high assurance 
| (of security)," said Bishop, a recognized expert on computer security. "The 
| security seems like it was added on.''  


The Future of Elections: Open Source Voting

,----[ Quote ]
| But how would you feel if Microsoft Windows was powering the voting booth in 
| which you were to select important elected officials? Would you, knowing of 
| Microsoft's past security record, feel confident that using this OS and not 
| being allowed to inspect the code, feel safe knowing that these machines 
| could very well help to dictate the future of your perspective countries? 
| Don't feel guilty, I don't really like it either.     


Uncle Sam Wants You: To Build a Better Voting Machine

,----[ Quote ]
| Four teams of researchers from universities in the U.S., Canada, Poland and 
| the United Kingdom begin competing today in Portland, Oregon, to win a prize 
| for the best open-source voting system. The three-day University Voting 
| System Competition, which ends July 18th, is sponsored by the National 
| Science Foundation.     


E-voting vendor succumbs to California source code demands

,----[ Quote ]
| "... there are serious concerns regarding the motivations and apparent 
| personal agendas of a number of the currently proposed examiners," ES&S 
| exec StevenPearson wrote in a letter agreeing to turn over the source 
| code.


John Edwards supports "open source" for voting systems

,----[ Quote ]
| John Edwards has become the first presidential candidate to support 
| "open source code" for election systems. 


A Publicly Owned and Controlled Voting System Ensuring Transparency and
Oversight by the People or Nothing

,----[ Quote ]
| Open source code optical scanners begin to restore some of that transparency 
| which would be eliminated by private vendors who bar the public from access 
| to any source code information. The advantage of open source software is that 
| it is available for public inspection by anyone with some level of computer 
| literacy, not just those designated to see the escrowed source code pursuant 
| to a non disclosure agreement.     


HR 811: Separating Truth From Fiction in E-voting Reform

,----[ Quote ]
| States wanting even greater transparency could mandate broader
| disclosure requirements (see proposed Sec. 301(a)(8)(B)(ii)(II)),
| including disposing of any non-disclosure requirement or even
| mandating the use of open source software. Moreover, vendors 
| themselves could dispense with the non-disclosure agreement
| requirement, either by explicitly granting permission to share 
| otherwise secret source code or by utilizing open source 
| systems.
| [...]
| And once again, states may mandate any kind of additional disclosure,
| including an open source requirement, that they wish.


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.


State legislators keep e-voting apps in public hands

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft, whose Windows software is used in some of the vendors' devices, 
| sought to amend the law to avoid the strict escrow provisions.  
| [...]
| But Lipari had his worries before the matter was resolved. Earlier 
| this month, in his blog, he called Microsoft the "800-pound gorilla 
| of software development" as he called attention to its plans. Microsoft, 
| he said, had been steadily lobbying legislators and circulating an 
| unsigned document that would redefine the law.


E-Voting Raises New Questions in Brazil

,----[ Quote ]
| Some Brazilians are lobbying the tribunal to switch from Windows CE to
| an open-source operating system for the voting machines, since Microsoft
| Corp., citing trade secrecy, won't allow independent audits to make
| sure malicious programmers haven't inserted commands to "flip" votes
| from one candidate to another.
| [...]
| Fontoura confirmed that Brazil is considering a move away from
| crosoft's proprietary code -- "We are studying the possibility of using an 
| open-source program like Linux in future elections. This would make the 
| entire process much more transparent and far less expensive," he said.


Avante's (Not Very Good) Offer to New York Voters

,----[ Quote ]
| Providing open source software is a start. That way others can see the 
| defects in the system’s design or view the intentional codes put in to rig an 
| election (open source soft code would be open to the public and therefore 
| would not need to be escrowed with the SBOE).   
| Avante doesn’t want us to see how it has designed its voting computer to 
| process and count our votes. If it did it would have used open source 
| software, but it chose not to. It is only those vendors who choose to use 
| secret proprietary source code that are required to escrow same so that at 
| least the SBOE can see what is otherwise concealed from the public.    
| Having chose to use secret software to process and count the votes, which 
| Avante cannot fully escrow because they relied on Microsoft software to 
| create its voting system, Avante now argues that since Kodak or some other 
| hardware supplier isn’t going to give you the source code of the firmware for 
| its scanners or printers either (it would be good to see this lower level 
| firmware coding, but not nearly as important as seeing the software source 
| code for the operating and tabulating functions of the computer), out should 
| go the proverbial baby with the bathwater (and any ability to view the way 
| the computer is programmed to tamper or not tamper with the vote).        
| [...]
| If New York chose an open source code optical scan system, we’d have a voting 
| system in place tomorrow, not two years from now. What Avante claims is 
| impossible to create actually already exists.  


,----[ Quote ]
| "Nineteen machines had 21 screen freezes or system crashes, producing a
| blue screen and messages about an "illegal operation" or a "fatal
| exception error."
| "Especially with this blue-screen problem, you don't know whether it's
| the printer drivers, you don't know whether it's Diebold's own code or
| whether it's Windows,"


,----[ 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....


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