Cal. lawmakers considers open source e-voting machines

California hearing opens the door to breaking proprietary lock on voting machines.

California Legislator Debra Bowen ran hearings today on the possibilities of e-voting systems running open source software. Red Herring reports that the largely informational meeting was mostly aimed at building public support for the idea. The event occurs, though, as California tries to get e-voting systems into shape for its June primaries, proprietary systems are failing federal review, and Diebold claims it wants to get out of the e-voting business. A performance review found great cost savings and security improvements by a switch to open source for government business, RH reports.

“Since the code is open, it offers the flexibility for organizations to modify the code as needed for specific uses…. open source can [also] provide superior security than closed source,” said the report.

 

At the very least, lawmakers want to learn more about open-source applications currently on the market and the steps to go through when evaluating a potential application, said Senator Bowen’s office.

 Although invited, e-voting manufacturers failed to show.

The hearing included presentations from Red Hat Vice President Michael Evans and Dierdre Mulligan, of the University of California, Berkeley. Four proprietary voting system vendors, including Diebold, were invited to take part in the hearing, but didn’t attend. Hart InterCivic, for example, said it had a scheduling conflict.

 

Phillip Braithwaite, the company’s vice president for sales, cited a prior statement saying the company “does not object” to an independent review of its code, but “we do not believe that open, unrestricted publication to the Internet is in the public interest and our belief is not based on intellectual property issues.”

 

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