Should election software be open source?

Should the election software be open source or closed source? How open should it be? Should we be able to see it? Wouldn't that give hackers an easy way to control the election process? Or does our present use of closed source means they already have that?

Cathy CoxHere is a question that will test your commitment to the open source ideal, and maybe get your weekend off to a flying start.

Should all election software be open source?

I ask this because I really don't know who has been getting elected in my home state of Georgia these last three years. There is no paper audit trail. The software is all closed-source. They tell me who has won each time, and they publish numbers in the newspaper, but the point is there is no way to check.

I'm talking here about the software that runs the voting machines, the software that delivers the numbers to the election office, and the software that totals it all up. Open or closed?

Here in Georgia elections are run under a 2002 contract with the Diebold Corp., using a program called GEMS that runs under Microsoft Windows. Everything is closed-source. I don't know what is going on.

The Secretary of State who signed this contract, Cathy Cox (above), is now a candidate for Governor. I notice that the State Elections Board is now being careful to strip her of all authority for elections, and eliminate her name from election-related releases to the press and public.

Maybe, at the next election, she will understand my unease about all this.

But by then it will be too late.

So, step back a moment. Should the election software be open source or closed source? How open should it be? Should we be able to see it? Wouldn't that give hackers an easy way to control the election process? Or does our present use of closed source means they already have that?

Have a good weekend.

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