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Sequoia Disclosing Voting System Source To DC 100

Posted by timothy
from the watch-whether-my-pity-meter-twitches dept.
buzzinglikeafridge writes "After Sequoia voting machines registered more votes than there were voters in DC's primaries last September, and the city threatened a lawsuit as a result, the company agreed to disclose technical details of the system (including source code) to the city. Although this isn't the first time the company has disclosed the source code of its machines, it is the first time the machines' blueprints will be handed over as well."
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Sequoia Disclosing Voting System Source To DC

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  • Yay! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily.gmail@com> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @08:14AM (#28240589)

    About fucking time.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @08:45AM (#28240717)

    You want me to use your machine for my elections? Hand it all over. All. Source, blueprints, all. I want to audit it. For as long as I want and by whomever I please. Yes, of course you will get my signatures that your code will not be given to anyone (except for audits, but not to keep) and it will be only used to audit your machines. No problem.

    You don't let me? Ok.

    NEXT OFFER!

    Frankly, it's a HUGE biz. Once you have the foot in the door, do you think they'll audit your competitor or will they order their next machines with you again because they've been audited already? YOU want to sell ME your machines. YOU are about to earn a ton of money, enough that you'll never have to create any other product anymore. You're selling to the government, not some beancounting company, they won't question if your software costs a million despite costing you 10k.

    Do you think I'll find some company willing to comply with my requirements if you don't bend over?

  • The machines that protect democracy include jet fighters, naval warcraft, guns, rockets, bombs ---- and voting machines.

    The US Government wouldn't buy a any of those other things without a massive effort to make sure they were secure, why not voting machines as well? If you can compromise those, the rest are easy.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:41AM (#28240929) Journal
    If it was actually being taken seriously it would be done by hand counted paper ballots.

    There are already good paper voting systems in use that meet important criteria such as:
    1) Being easy for most people to understand how their vote is counted and the effort it takes to cheat the system.
    2) Allowing the different political parties and independent bodies have their observers present to observe the votes as they are being counted.

    Because, I suggest that: elections don't just have to be fair. They have to be _seen_ as fair.

    Otherwise if there's a "surprise" result, there may be too many people on the streets for the police to quieten down. And that is a bad thing. If an election is seen as fair, while there may still be sore losers on the streets, the rest will be drowning their sorrows/disgust/disappointment in less troublesome ways.

    Electronic voting fails that way.

    It's a black box that the average voter does not understand. And worse, an expert in the field will tell you that it's a black box that makes cheating easier. How can you prove that the source code you see, is the one that was actually running during the election? You can't! If an ATM makes an error, someone in ops, accounts or audit might notice the creation or destruction of money. But the creation and destruction of votes is hard to detect and prove unless it gets to a ridiculous state (like now).

    I've been in the IT line for years and I see no good reason to have electronic voting systems in a Democracy.

    The more voters you have, the more counters and observers you can have. Hand counting scales fine.

    I find it darkly amusing that the most powerful country in the world spends hundreds of billions to choose governments oops "establish democracy" in other countries, and can't even spend a much lower amount to do things properly at home.
  • by dunezone (899268) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:30AM (#28241197) Journal

    The machines that protect democracy include jet fighters, naval warcraft, guns, rockets, bombs ---- and voting machines.

    The US Government wouldn't buy a any of those other things without a massive effort to make sure they were secure, why not voting machines as well? If you can compromise those, the rest are easy.

    Because the people that are elected in office are the same people voted in by those machines.

  • by WhatDoIKnow (962719) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:58AM (#28241345)

    No one is getting executed or persecuted based on their vote.

    You think maybe that's because the vote is secret?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:06AM (#28241393)

    The reason the ballot is a secret is to be certain that no one can leverage your vote against you. A secret ballot is critical for the safety of the voters. Just imagine that your boss knows who you're voting for.

    "No one is getting executed or persecuted based on their vote."

    Not in the US, where voting is fairly free and safe. In other places not so much (Kenya).

  • Re:Yay! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ae1294 (1547521) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @06:03PM (#28244553) Journal

    Can you tell I am pissed off?

    No.. because you didn't use all UPPERCASE.... but everything you said is true enough. Something as important as voting shouldn't be played with and subject to the whim's of lobbyist and 'for profit' tech companies who are outsourcing their coding to china.

    The whole idea (facile) of saving a buck by making the voting system electronic or that paper ballets are too hard to understand is just cover for someone trying to make a buck or worse someone trying to rig elections with less effort and/or chance of being caught.

    Doesn't mater what party or group you belong to we all loose...

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