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CA Sec of State wants open source e-voting systems

Last week, at the Technology Review‘s Emerging Technologies Conference held at MIT, there was a panel on electronic voting systems in which CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen participated — along with Moderator Jason Pontin, Editor in Chief, Technology Review; Doug Chapin, Director, electionline.org; Ronald L. Rivest, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT; and Pamela Smith, President, Verified Voting Foundation. You may remember that in 2007, Bowen ordered a complete top-to-bottom review of voting systems in CA. I’m really glad to see a top-level politician sitting on a panel of cutting edge technologists and really, really glad to hear that top-level politician advocate for [w:Open-source software].

Now, I’m not saying the open source is the end all and be all solution to the myriad issues facing e-voting (see Bev harris’ Black Box Voting for more on those issues); but it’s great to see that Bowen at least gets that open source software is at least part of the solution. We’ve been saying that for quite some time. For a complete wrapup of the panel see Lucas Mearian’s ComputerWorld blog

One method of addressing software issues associated with the vast majority of proprietary e-voting applications out there is to move to using open source, especially for applications residing on optical scanners, which have been particularly troublesom. The concern is that IT administrators can’t look at the software to correct errors or tweak it for a particular county’s needs. Open source would go a long ways to disclosing problems associated with today’s propretary e-voting applications, Bowen said.

[Thanks /.]

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