On open source software and our electoral system

vote

Dan Wallach wrote an interesting piece today titled Open Source vs. Disclosed Source Voting Systems, in which he discusses the need for open source software to be used in our voting machines if we’re to have any hope of electoral transparency. Here’s an excerpt:

Sometimes, working on voting seems like running on a treadmill. Old disagreements need to be argued again and again. As long as I’ve been speaking in public about voting, I’ve discussed the need for voting systems’ source code to be published, as in a book, to create transparency into how the systems operate. Or, put another way, trade secrecy is anathema to election transparency. We, the people, have an expectation that our election policies and procedures are open to scrutiny, and that critical scrutiny is essential to the exercise of our Democracy. (Cue the waving flags.)

And one more excerpt:

Voting systems, in this regard, are just like Microsoft Windows. We have to assume, since voting machines are widely dispersed around the country, that attackers will have the opportunity to tear them apart and extract the machine code. Therefore, it’s fair to argue that source disclosure, or the lack thereof, has no meaningful impact on the operational security of our electronic voting machines. They’re broken. They need to be repaired.

The entire article is worth your time.

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