[E-voting] Third party code

Brian O'Byrne bobyrne at statesoft.ie
Fri Jun 3 10:19:26 IST 2005


On Thursday 02 June 2005 19:32, Aengus Lawlor wrote:
> Brian O'Byrne wrote:
> > For example: we know the count machines run an operating system
> > and database application provided by Microsoft.
>
> I made the point yesterday, and I'll make it again today. The
> PowerVote ERS software is not doing a hugely complex job. It uses a
> database for convenience, but it would be possible to do the job
> with plain text files if you wanted. Most of the complexity in the
> application actually comes before the election, in setting up and
> programming the modules with the various candidates names and party
> affiliations. The actual counting process is not hugely complex.

I'm not disputing that point Aengus. The question was simply do we 
have a clear picture of the third party software that is actually in 
use.

> (As I understand it, it's also not correct to refer to a "database
> application from Microsoft" or to an Access database. As far as I
> know, the PowerVote application uses the odbc calls to the default
> Jet database engine. This happens to be the same engine as Access
> uses, but I don't think that Access is installed on the Count
> machines).

OK, it is a database engine from Microsoft, not a database application 
from Microsoft.

> > The keyboard on the voting machines is proprietary, so presumably
> > there must be a device driver for it.
>
> The whole NEDAP voting machine is proprietary - it's not a Windows
> machine with a funny keyboard.

Again that is a side issue. The norm with embedded systems development 
of any complexity is to start with an appropriate embedded systems 
OS, frequently either a Microsoft embedded OS or a Linux variant. 
Unless NEDAP wrote the entire system from the ground up they will be 
using some third party OS and/or driver software.

Maybe NEDAP did write all the code required by the voting machines 
without the support of an OS. If so, that's fine. The question is do 
we know whether that is the case?

> > Did that originate with NEDAP
> > or a third party? Similarly the device driver for the memory
> > modules. I remember there was Roxio CD burning software mentioned
> > in the spec for the count machines, so that is another third
> > party source of code.
>
> Off the shelf software is arguably safer than custom code for the
> situation we are talking about - it's a reasonably safe bet that
> the developers at Roxio didn't build in a special Nedap hacking
> module on the off chance that their software might end up counting
> the results of an Irish Election.
>
> Aengus
>
>
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-- 
Brian O'Byrne, Statesoft Ltd.
Tel: +353 1 4100 993, +353 86 240 4719
http://www.statesoft.ie/




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