[E-voting] Source Code

Aengus aengusl at eircom.net
Sat Mar 20 16:53:59 GMT 2004

Mark Dennehy <Mark.Dennehy at cs.tcd.ie> wrote:
> Ref:[Aengus, Sat, 20/03/04 @ 13:07 -0000]
> > The point is that "hidden processing" done in a computer is no more
> > transparent for the average citizen when the software is "free
> > software" than when it is closed source.
> The fact of the matter is that there is a practical limit to
> how open the process can be. Ballot boxes are not made from
> transparent perspex. The entire population can't ride along
> in the car with the gardai as they take to box to storage.
> The entire population can't sit with the box overnight. And
> it's rare that the entire population can watch the count
> given physical space limits in the building. So the system
> already discriminates against the majority.

No, it doesn't. The majority are satisfied that they don't need to
individually exercise their right to oversee the process. They aren't
being discriminated against. They aren't being excluded from the process
based on their lack of training or ability.

And frankly, the argument that it's okay to rely on a system that is not
transparent to the vast majority simply because "the system already
discriminates against the majority".

> But they don't
> care much because the system *is* watched by quite a few
> people already and it's as transparent as is practical.

It's watched by ordinary citizens who are members of the parties that
the voters have elected, not by some technical elite. There's nothing
happening in a PT-STV count that can't be explained in a 15 minute
training session.

> Making the source code for the eVoting system available to
> the public domain is practical - in fact, it's already been
> done by the Australian eVACS voting system. It also means
> that we have the source code should Nedap go belly-up
> tomorrow.

We don't need the source code if Nedap go belly up tomorrow.

> So basicly, we're asking for something that has been done
> before, is eminently practical and has the added bonus that
> we won't have to turn around and shell out another 40 million
> euro or more when/if Nedap go out of business.
> So what's the problem?

The problem is the only argument that has been presented in favour of
an open source versus a (insert propaganda term of the week for non open
source) system with VVAT is the purely ideological argument "open source
good, non open source bad". There's nothing wrong with open source
software. But there's nothing about the open source model that adds the
tiniest value to the problem we are trying to address. An open source
voting system with VVAT is no more worth of trust by the average voter
than an  system with VVAT is.

Source code is a distraction from the issue at hand.


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