[E-voting] Re: Source Code

John Bernard Lambe icte-jlambe at johnlambe.com
Sun Mar 21 17:46:50 GMT 2004


One advantage of using open source software is that the system is found
to give an incorrect result (something which, of course, is unlikely to
happen - for the wrong reasons - if you don't have a VVAT), then the
software vendor finds and correct the bug, independent software
developers can verify that the bug is what the vendor says it is (even
if they had missed it on seeing the code before - verifying a bug when
it's pointed out is easy).

If the system is closed source, everyone has to trust the software
vender that:
  1. The problem was a bug and not fraud.
  2. The extent of the bug is only what they claim it is,
     for example if they claim that only one constituency is affected.
This is important to ensure that any affected constituencies are
recounted and to ensure that fraud is investigated (thus increasing the
deterrant).

In a closed source system, if a party bribed the software vendor to rig
an election, it is unlikely that they would be prosecuted if the result
was found to be wrong in an audit (assuming we had a VVAT), since it
would be so easy for the vendor to cover it up, and it would be in
their interest to do so.

There have been apparent bugs in systems used in the US which are just
assumed to have been bugs rather than fraud.

=====
John Lambe
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