Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Government Politics Hardware

Open Source Voting Software Success 73

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the finally-a-voting-story-to-feel-good-about dept.
elhaf writes "The Open Voting Consortium has announced that they successfully demonstrated the Open Voting Process in San Luis Obispo this weekend. OVC received a request from San Luis Obispo County on the previous Monday to provide software to run their January 12 straw poll. By Friday, they had the software prepared and Saturday's event goes down as a great success for Open Voting Consortium and the cause of transparent election administration. They used Ubuntu and their code is publicly available. Surprisingly, counting ballots is not rocket science."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Open Source Voting Software Success

Comments Filter:
  • by jamieswith (682838) on Monday January 14, 2008 @06:48PM (#22042490)
    Surprisingly, counting ballots is not rocket science

    Of course not, however there is a lot of science involved in the process of mis-counting ballots... especially in a way that avoids the possibility of getting caught.

    Those are valuable trade secrets worth protecting!
    • You've been modded funny, but I think an Insightful is in order. It really is a trade with large sums of money and corruption involved. Yes my aluminum foil brain wave scanning deflector sheild is firmly in place.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by sethawoolley (1005201)
      Yeah, rocket science, the Democratic Party did it! I guess they've finally caught up with the Libertarians and Greens that have been doing this stuff for years.

      Seth Woolley
      Pacific Green Party of Oregon Parliamentarian and past Elections Administrator
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Surprisingly, counting ballots is not rocket science.
    No, it's political science... and now computer science.
  • Voting_thing.tar (Score:5, Informative)

    by gQuigs (913879) on Monday January 14, 2008 @06:51PM (#22042552) Homepage
    "[1] In case any techies want to see some code, here is the program for the voting counting program, written by Asheesh: http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/ad/voting_thing.tar [openvotingconsortium.org]
    Here is Jan's code (if you want to run it and have some trouble, let me know and I will help you with it) http://user.it.uu.se/~jan/test/straw.tar [it.uu.se]"

    I love the name.
    • Now, prove that this is the code that actually was loaded onto and executed by the computer during the election. And that the BIOS didn't install a rootkit. [this would apply to any computer-based ssytem, not just an open-source one]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      How do you verify the machine you are voting on is actually running this code?
      • Easy, get a hash of an executable know to be compiled correctly and compare it to the hash of the executable in the machine.
        Although as long as ballots are counted by machines, even if they are open source, without a manual count also being done under controlled circumstances (ie observers from all involved parties as well as neutral observers) I wouldn't trust the results.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          How do you ensure that the computer is returning the correct hash from it's executable. For all you know, their version of SHA1SUM could just return the predetermined hash code every time. Oh, and don't plan on bringing your own version of SHA1SUM, because there's no way to ensure that your version was actually run.
          • That's where thinks like the Ubuntu live CD come in handy. if you have a CD with a proper checksum then you know what you have. You can check that code when compiling data that you know. If the code is in any noticable way broken, then you can expect that other people around the world are going to see corrupt checksums. (It's not perfect, but it\s a really effective way of testing against random data).

            You are then able to distribute CDs of a known base to everybody, and they can use their own Ubuntu liv

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Bottlemaster (449635)

          Easy, get a hash of an executable know to be compiled correctly and compare it to the hash of the executable in the machine.
          The trouble is knowing it's compiled correctly [boun.edu.tr].
          • True. Then I suppose you'll have to resort to writing the machine code by hand. It's a long and arduous task, but it can be done.
            Of course even if you manage to do that, then you'll have to have some way of confirming that the operating system hasn't been compromised. So we'll skip the operating system and just write directly to hardware (making the above task more difficult).
            Then of course there's no way of knowing that the hardware hasn't been compromised.

            So maybe just skip the whole thing and at most hav
            • Of course, there's no way to know that the whole collection of human beings hasn't been bought, so we'll have to replace them with dogs whose intelligences have been raised via genetic engineering. Luckily, dogs only accept food as legal tender, so we can be sure they're honest until they start pooping unexpectedly.
  • by jconley (28741) on Monday January 14, 2008 @07:29PM (#22043248) Homepage
    Everytime i vote in a slashdot poll!
  • by Phoenix Rising (28955) on Monday January 14, 2008 @08:11PM (#22043810) Homepage
    If this is the totality of the OVC system, I hate to say it, but it's not going to make it in the real world for quite some time. By failing to meet accessibility requirements, it's an instant non-starter in a real election. I'm also concerned that any vote tabulation software is required; shouldn't that be standardized code based on the ballot?
    • by frietbsd (943773)
      You (parent) suggest that the systems (diebold) that are currently being used do meet the hava standards? I think given the short timespan (5 days) they came up with a nice thingy. Transparency is a great good. If you ask me, those diebold machines were an instant non-starter. But they were used anyway. (and were still with the last primaries). You can make a list of flaws of this thing, but the only thing on that list that wont be on diebolds list is that everyone has access to the code. But oops, even th
  • by Dwedit (232252) on Monday January 14, 2008 @08:42PM (#22044152) Homepage
    How can you be sure that the program you are running really is the program that you think it is, and not a modified copy?
    • by Methlin (604355)
      Because it doesn't matter. Voters keep the vote taking machines honest by reading their own ballot, vote counters keeping track of 1-2 items on the ballots keep the tally machine honest.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        If humans are re-verifying everything, then why have the machine at all?
        • by Methlin (604355)

          If humans are re-verifying everything, then why have the machine at all?
          No hanging chads? No ambiguously filled in bubbles? No confusingly laid out ballot? No badly worded ballot issue summary due to space constraints? No lack of full ballot issue text?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy (595695)
            Sorry, I forgot that printers always printed out things perfectly, without any problems. Also you can make a ballot laid out or badly worded on a computer screen, just as well as you can on a piece of paper. If you have so much stuff on the ballot that you can't put it all on a single piece of paper, then get bigger paper, or use more than 1 sheet. Also, why even elect officials if there is so much stuff on the ballot. Might as well just forgo paying them, and get the public to vote on every single iss
            • by Methlin (604355)

              Sorry, I forgot that printers always printed out things perfectly, without any problems.

              When was the last time you've seen an impact or thermal printer fail after only 500 pages? There's no requirement to use inkjet printers that run out of ink after 5 pages or print on sheets that jam.

              Also you can make a ballot laid out or badly worded on a computer screen, just as well as you can on a piece of paper.

              But it isn't constrained by having to fit in a 1" square in 10pt font that causes the bad summary. Formating, font size, and page count are effectively free on a computer screen, not so much on a traditional ballot.

              If you have so much stuff on the ballot that you can't put it all on a single piece of paper, then get bigger paper, or use more than 1 sheet. Also, why even elect officials if there is so much stuff on the ballot. Might as well just forgo paying them, and get the public to vote on every single issue. This is why you elect representatives. To represent you. So you don't have to vote on every piddly little thing.

              I see you've never voted and don't understand that electronic voting isn't about making the c

  • There is a lot of questioning the safety or security of these devices, even when they're open-source. The secret-ballot was not suggested for this nation by a gaggle of idiots, and done correctly by people who care about democracy (perhaps that's really where the issue is, concerning the lack of actual Americans these days as opposed to U.S. Citizens with vested interests). But, due to freedoms, we cannot hold Americans accountable for their nationalism or democratic spirit. Instead, we can work harder to
  • Having the code open is just one piece of the puzzle. There also has to be stringent auditing of the voting machines and random spot-checking of them to ensure that the code being run is the exact same as the code that is published and open.
    • by Tacvek (948259)

      Having the code open is just one piece of the puzzle. There also has to be stringent auditing of the voting machines and random spot-checking of them to ensure that the code being run is the exact same as the code that is published and open.

      But here is the thing, the main voting machines are basically just a ballot printing machine. You enter the vote selections, and it prints a ballot with both user-readable and machine readable representations. The machine itself does not store any vote information. The ballot is verified by the voter and placed in the ballot box.

      Now for the way the vote counting works, it works by machine tallying with human oversight. There is a projection screen showing a running tally of the votes. There is also a pro

  • Lots of places still use paper and ink quite successfully. Sure, you can use computers to mark the ballots if you must, but how is that better? If polling stations are kept to a few hundred voters each, they can be counted in minutes by hand by all parties' scrutineers. Keep the ballots and they can be recounted any number of times. No software involved. Verifiable. Reusable hardware (well, sorta flexibleware) available from Rubbermaid for under a penny per ballot. e-voting has no legitimate purpose o

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

Working...