×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NYT Calls For Open-Source Election Machines

simoniker posted more than 9 years ago | from the immediate-response dept.

United States 302

anti-drew writes "The New York Times Magazine has an interesting editorial (free reg. req.) calling for open-source voting machines. From the article: 'Electronic voting has much to offer, but will we ever be able to trust these buggy machines? Yes, we will -- but only if we adopt the techniques of the 'open source' geeks.' That's quite an endorsement coming from the Times. Of course, one of the justifications was that open-source enthusiasts are 'libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power', who would 'scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong'."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

302 comments

hahaha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298675)

fp

Re:hahaha (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298725)

^---bacon

Yeah, right (2, Insightful)

KrisCowboy (776288) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298676)

open-source enthusiasts are 'libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power', who would 'scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong'.
The same NY Times that got Adrian Lamo busted while he found a f**king open-proxy on their network.

Re:Yeah, right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298714)

don't confuse common geeks with criminal intruders please.

Re:Yeah, right (1, Troll)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298814)

If he found an open proxy and told them about it (as the first post suggests), he's no worse than your neighbor pointing out that you left a window open in your house when you're heading out shopping or whatever.

Re:Yeah, right (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298848)

That's not all he did. He proceeded to exploit the open proxy (before warning NYT). One of the things he did was ring up 300'000 dollars in Lexus Nexus charges. Searching for info on himself. That's one huge ego, which I'm sure will serve him well in prison.

Re:Yeah, right (4, Insightful)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298934)

You're joking, right? Lamo proceeded to dive in and conduct searches without the Times permission. It's akin to the neighbor jumping through the window, rooting around inside, using your TV and refrigerator then saying "Hey, you've got an open window," as he walked away.

Yes, of course, information should be free, yada yada yada. Fact is, there's some rules. Lamo knew the rules but didn't bother to follow them.

Re:Yeah, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298836)

don't let the facts stand in your way.

Re:Yeah, right (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298753)

The same NY Times that got Adrian Lamo busted while he found a f**king open-proxy on their network.

I guess... your point being...?

Re:Yeah, right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298816)

It obviously was the open-proxy, and not Adrian "Look at me" Lamo, that happened to ring up $300,000 in database research charges on NYT's Lexus-Nexus account [nytimes.com].

What did he, err, the open-proxy, search for using Lexus-Nexus? That's right, "Adrian Lamo". That's some ego.

That reminds me, what on earth does open source enthusiasts have in common with criminals like Lamo?

Re:Yeah, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298940)

That reminds me, what on earth does open source enthusiasts have in common with criminals like Lamo?

Both need to shower more often.

But who will get (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298678)

First Vote?

"Endorsement?" (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298682)

It's most definitely not an "endorsement from the Times." Unless the Op-ed was written by the Times editorial board, it will have a disclaimer stating that the statements contained herein only represent the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Times or its parent corporations.

aw sugar, aw honey honey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298690)

fifth post and taco's a screaming pedophile

Bad idea? (-1, Troll)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298692)

I could be mistaken, but wouldn't open source code for voting machines make it that much easier for someone to hack the machines if they so desired?

I'm all for a hacker that wants to put Kerry in office, but this doesn't seem like something we should trust the public with...

Re:Bad idea? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298713)

open source doesn't mean that everyone and his grandma has an CVS account. :)

Re:Bad idea? (1)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298718)

Forgot to mention...this was posted before I RTFA. There's a possibility that this was covered. Time to go find out firsthand...

Re:Bad idea? (4, Insightful)

Jardine (398197) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298732)

I could be mistaken, but wouldn't open source code for voting machines make it that much easier for someone to hack the machines if they so desired?

Wouldn't open source code for an operating system make it that much easier for someone to the hack a computer if they so desired?

The thing with open source voting machines is that anyone should be able to look at the code and notice a bug that would allow this. With closed source voting machines like Diebold's, the only ones who know if there's some backdoor or buggy code are the people who programmed it.

Re:Bad idea? (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#9299046)

"the only ones who know if there's some backdoor or buggy code are the people who programmed it."

A correct statement but in need of a slight clarification. The only people who are likely to know about intentional rigging are the ones who do the build that actually gets installed in the machines. I imagine most of the geeks who developed the software in Diebold's machine would have no clue about any wrongdoing. The rigging is more likely to be done by a group resembling Nixon's plumbers who are highly loyal, believe what they are doing is right in some twisted way and able to keep secrets.

Thats why its extremely disturbing to hear about massive last minute changes in the software loads on Diebold's machines in the eleventh hour before the 2002 election in Georgia, which resulted in a stunning Republican upsets for the Senate and Governor, or in the last election in California.

Re:Bad idea? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298755)

You sir, are a dumbass.

It would be HARDER to hack an open source voting machine for several reasons.

First: Security holes WOULD get fixed. Diebold leaves their machines open to known exploits.

Second: If the machines were open source, you can bet your complacent American ass that every CompSci doctorate student or professor would try and hack it for prestege, then submit a patch to fix it. All that BEFORE an election.

Third: At least we would know how the machinese worked. Currently our knowledge consists of: The Machines fuck Up.

Fourth: we might get a paper trail. Florida election fuckups would no longer exist.

Re:Bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298996)

You sir, are a dumbass.
Besides this part, your reply is a very good one. He very clearly told that he could be mistaken. No need to call names, ok? :-) Let's tolerate and behave.

Re:Bad idea? (4, Insightful)

flossie (135232) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298757)

I could be mistaken, but wouldn't open source code for voting machines make it that much easier for someone to hack the machines if they so desired?

Yes. We all know that security by obscurity is one of the best methods of ensuring that systems are secure. That is why nobody has ever been able to hack into a system running closed-source software such as Microsoft Windows.

Sarcasm aside, if the software is not open-source, there will still be many, many people that will have access to the code. The difference is that the general public won't be able to check what the code does. Are you sure that you trust every employee of Diebold (for instance) to be honest?

Re:Bad idea? (2, Insightful)

borud (127730) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298782)

if you don't trust the public, then who do you trust?

I wrote something about this in my blog [borud.no] a while ago. I think putting your trust in the public is exactly what needs to be done. don't you?

Re:Bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298854)

if you don't trust the public, then who do you trust?
Who do you serve?
Who do you trust?
[pause]
Who do you serve and who do you trust?

Sorry, had to be said.

Re:Bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298992)

I fucking hate TNT.

Re:Bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9299010)

I trust me. Ultimately I serve me. Therefore if I am in a position where you need to trust me it is in your interest that you can make sure I don't screw you.

Actually, it is in your interest that you don't NEED to trust me and that even if I wanted to screw you, you would have ways to find out and deal with it.

I am sorry, but what was your point?

Exactly (4, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#9299018)

If you can't trust the public with information about voting machines, why trust them to elect our leaders at all?

Re:Bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298893)

I'm sorry to inform, but your slashdot account will be suspended until you have read what ESR has to say about Open Source security on this paper: The Case of the Quake Cheats [catb.org]

Re:Bad idea? (1)

AstroDrabb (534369) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298988)

It seems you are confused about how open source works and its benefits. Imagine 3 detectives looking over a murder crime scene for clues. There is only so much that three detectives can do. Now imagine 1,000 detectives all looking over the same crime scene for clues. Your odds of finding clues goes up considerably. This is similar to open source. An open source voting application would literally draw thousands (including myself) of developers interested in looking at the code. The final code would be a version that ran through the "guantlet" and passed. You wouldn't put out just any-ole-code. That would be silly and _would_ defeat the purpose of open source and would make it easier for a crimianl to under-hand the system. The code that we would use in the voting machine would be the code that passed the communities scrutiny and thus most likely found all possible holes, espeicially those that a criminal would want to take advantage of.

Fucking A (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298694)

May I be the first to say:

Fucking A.

In Related News... (4, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298695)

MSDN Magazine [msdnmagazine.com] has an article calling for closed source voting machines with .NET Passport validation.

Re:In Related News... (1)

hugzz (712021) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298777)

Do mods ever read the posts? At the time of reply this is 3, Informative.

That would be perfect! (1)

crashnbur (127738) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298932)

...because Microsoft would be in charge of validating our ballots!

Re:That would be perfect! (3, Funny)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#9299025)

...because Microsoft would be in charge of validating our ballots!

I suspect that it would be however wrote the best worm that would control the election.

One armed bandits... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298696)

That comment reminds me of a history book of Las Vegas which noted the distrust that regular gamblers had against the electronic one armed bandits, who much preferred the electromechanical machines.

Re:One armed bandits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298876)

What's to trust? In both cases the machines have whatever odds the casino wants them to have.

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

SourceVisigoth (141614) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298697)

open source voting machines elect you!!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298761)

Aside from being another worthless Slashdot cliche, this doesn't even make sense. Are you implying that in America, we elect voting machines? That's jibber-jabber.

Screaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298701)

Of course, one of the justifications was that open-source enthusiasts are 'libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power', who would 'scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong'."

lets not kid ourselves here ;)

enough of this (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298704)

Instead of blatantly LYING in the headline and saying the NYT supports open source voting machines, make the headline say an NYT editorial supports open source voting machines. This type of biased flip-flop does not fly in real media outlets.

Political Parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298705)

Hey the whole bonus of a two party system is for the one to keep the other in check. If the nerds of America have to keep our voting system straight, then I'm sure we can find a few good nerds.

nutty? (5, Insightful)

jtilak (596402) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298712)

'libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power' i thought we were socialists? what's nutty about being suspicious of centralized power? it would be naive not to be. read a frickin history book. (or a newspaper, for that matter)

the NYT Voting initiative (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298716)

I think it's a great idea... not a new one but it's probably new to the general public and the NYT clearly thinks there's nothing wrong with free registration required so there you have it! A national publication force supporting a public-trust open-source project. It's the only way to help ensure the public's interests are protected against corruption.

But the machines themselves are only part of the process. There must be audit and process supervision and that still requires people.

Go NYT (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298724)

Of course, one of the justifications was that open-source enthusiasts are 'libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power', who would 'scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong'."

For once they hit the nail on the head. Although I don't see why anyone might consider the statements to be any sort of insult. The so called "libertarian freaks" are just doing what every citizen should be doing: always questioning "centralized power". Technically, we give them the power, so why not ask why?

Re:Go NYT (4, Insightful)

Roger Keith Barrett (712843) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298891)

'libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power'

Sounds like a description of the American founding fathers to me.

I take it as a complement.

Re:Go NYT (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298892)

Minus the rhetoric, the NYT isn't that far off.

That statement should read "suspicious of unecessary centralisation". Distrust of centralisation is very much a part of the geek world: internet rather than one-to-many media like broadcast TV, bittorrent rather than ftp, the bazaar development model, the division of a working OSS system into hundreds of chunks (the kernel, kde, X, etc.) that can be arranged to suit, enthusiasm for P2P technology that goes beyond free pr0n/warez, etc. etc. etc.

This "screaming to the high heavens" isn't unique to politically-sensitive bugs. This is how the OSS development model works: let a bunch of eyeballs go over something and raise red flags if something is wrong. People would scream to the high heavens if, say, a version of KDE was released with a major memory leak; it's just part of the process.

(Side thought: when does American democracy get a bugzilla page?

Bug #41298: Voters in non-swing states effectively disenfranchised by electoral college system
Assigned to: FEC
Status: IS_FEATURE_NOT_BUG

Aargh!)

Re:Go NYT (1)

jcomeau_ictx (696704) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298945)

Goddamn right. "I resemble that remark" too. About time we got credit where credit is due; we need more libertarian nutcases in this world! Like my hero esr [catb.org], the gun-carrying geek!

Another argument (4, Interesting)

gregmac (629064) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298738)

I think a strong argument that you could put forward would be that the current system of manually counting votes is the equivalent of 'open source'. Everyone knows what they do (count votes), and how they do it (by looking at each one and recording the number). I believe you can even watch them do it, if you'd like. Open source is pretty much the equivalent. You can see what the code is doing, and how it's doing it.

But will it be enough? (2, Insightful)

zalas (682627) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298862)

I'm sure a lot of geeks will be convinced that the voting software would be safe if all the able coders can look at the voting software at their leisure and find bugs, if any. However, how do you convince the general populace this? Just saying there are random people in the world finding bugs in it doesn't seem convincing enough to a normal person who knows nothing about computers except that they can use it to get email and buy flowers. While I'm all for open source voting, I think it doesn't inspire the amount of trust necessary or as much trust as most Slashdot readers would think.

Re:Another argument (1)

redfcat76 (772716) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298884)

I agree with your analogy of open-source to the way that votes are currently counted. I think also that it is important that the binary running is the same one as the source code provided for the public actually compiles as. Maybe there should be a way, at the machine, to do a md5sum of the running software, and compare with previously snail-mailed md5sum or something? It sounds like a great way to discredit open-source..."Whoa look at that huge back door, it's the same program name as the program the open-source compiled!"

well.. not completely true (2, Interesting)

Haydn Fenton (752330) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298741)

alas, my memory fails me yet again (please, no lame 'upgrade' jokes), i know my explanation will suck due to lack of facts, but here ya are anyway;

there was *some guy* who placed some code into a compiler once, so that even if there was no malicious code in the actual souce, once compiled, the executable had a block of code enabling the original author to do things (i.e. a backdoor). if i remember correctly, even if you were to recompile the compiler, the code would once again be placed into the compiler (and therefore future copies of the executable), i know its extremely unlikely that it will happen in this case, but im just pointing out that it can happen.

Re:well.. not completely true (4, Informative)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298823)

That *some guy* is Ken Thompson. Here [wbglinks.net], here [susx.ac.uk], and here [fogcreek.com] is some more info about the infamous "compiler backdoor."

Re:well.. not completely true (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298837)

You're probably thinking of Ken Thompson's Reflections on Trusting Trust [acm.org]. A very good read for anyone involved in computer security.

Re:well.. not completely true (1)

Sweetshark (696449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298838)

there was *some guy* who placed some code into a compiler once, so that even if there was no malicious code in the actual souce, once compiled, the executable had a block of code enabling the original author to do things (i.e. a backdoor).
You are talking about Ken Thompsons backdoor in early unix ...
more of the story [catb.org]

Re:well.. not completely true (1)

flossie (135232) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298849)

alas, my memory fails me yet again (please, no lame 'upgrade' jokes), i know my explanation will suck due to lack of facts, but here ya are anyway;

I think that Reflections on Trusting Trust [acm.org] by Ken Thompson might be what you are referring to.

Re:well.. not completely true (0)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298852)

there was *some guy* who placed some code into a compiler once

That was Dennis Richie. As an exercise for the original poster, find the famous published paper in which Richie described this.

Re:well.. not completely true (4, Funny)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298978)

As a further exercise, find the real author's name and spell it correctly. (hint: several slashdotters have already posted it :)

Re:well.. not completely true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298860)

That was either Ken or Dennis. It was a hole that recognized the login shell when it was being compiled and added a backdoor. It also recognized the compiler and put the same secret function into it. However, this can't work unless everyone uses the same compiler. That was only possible then because it was the only C compiler, and every compiler that compiled it had been compiled using it.

What's the problem (1, Insightful)

lakeland (218447) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298747)

There's a lot worse images we could have. They even chose libertarian instead of marxist.

Besides, I think the quote is fairly accurate -- just look at how much we jump up and down about 'trivial' licence details. In the closed source world they'd just pirate the software and forget about it.

Re:What's the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298929)

There's a lot worse images we could have. They even chose libertarian instead of marxist.

They think that ESR is typical of us. If you don't find that scary then I may have to shoot you for your own good. I meant to say club you to death, I am NOT a gun nut. I'm going to have to burn my Jedi costume now as well :(

Re:What's the problem (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298994)

Hey, I agree with ESR most of the time. Now, if they thought RMS was typical, then I'd agree you had a point :-)

Not an "editorial" (5, Informative)

gkuz (706134) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298751)

The New York Times Magazine has an interesting editorial

It's an interesting piece, but it's not an editorial. An editorial states the opinion of the newspaper as a whole (actually of the Editorial Board, if you're feeling pedantic) and as such carries a fair amount of weight, as in saying, for example, "The New York Times has endorsed Kerry for President." This is just an opinion piece by one of the paper's writers, and is a lot lower on the food chain than an editorial.

Re:Not an "editorial" (2, Insightful)

crashnbur (127738) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298908)

One term that gkuz left out in his comment above is that opinion articles that appear on editorial pages that are not representative of publication itself are either op-eds (what this article is) or letters to the editor (much, much lower on the editorial food chain).

Finally, people are seeing reason... (5, Insightful)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298752)

A long time ago, Linus Torvalds gave an interview in Maximum PC in which he pointed out that some people thought that open source "somehow was tied to communism." This type of thinking is still around, I think, and it's part of what fuels the Ken Browns and Darl McBrides of the world. They see something that looks a little like something they've been trained to hate with unreasoning passion, and then the blinders go on and the brains turn off.

Fortunately, I think that people are finally starting to understand exactly what the open source software movement stands for and the benefits we stand to accrue from it. 'Communism' - either in its real form or the corrupted understanding that some people seem to have of it - simply doesn't enter into the equation anymore. Open source, to many mostly computer illiterate people that I know, looks much more like an exercise in free speech than an expression of the Marxist dialectic.

Open source voting software is the best way to deal with the problems in electronic voting machines. Will it be an absolute panacea? Probably not. But in any case, it will doubtless produce more trustworthy software than anything produced by a proprietary company using proprietary software development methods on a proprietary operating system with proprietary political causes and motivations.

Re:Finally, people are seeing reason... (4, Informative)

crashnbur (127738) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298898)

Right. "Communism" emphasizes collective public ownership of property, which is contrary to American ideals. That's not what the open-source movement is going for. Open source is closer to "socialism", which emphasizes the collective public ownership of the means of production -- not the products of production -- and the freedom of the entire community to exercise political power.

In this particular case, the open-source movement advocates the individual's right to public information, especially information behind public processes that have a huge impact on government functions and operations. We have a right to understand exactly how such critical processes work in order that the integrity of such processes is preserved.

Re:Finally, people are seeing reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9299029)

"Communism" emphasizes collective public ownership of property, which is contrary to American ideals.

Maybe you should talk to some people who, for some reason or another, couldn't pay the tax(rent to the government) on their property.

Open Voting Consortium (5, Informative)

coshx (687751) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298763)

No mention of an open-source voting project currently gathering a lot of support. Their idea is to keep what people trust about voting, and just computerize the parts that will make the process easier and more accessable.

Open Voting Consortium [openvotingconsortium.org]

It *IS* mentioned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298916)

From TFA:

A group of civic-minded programmers known as the Open Voting Consortium has written its own open-source code.

Re:Open Voting Consortium (2, Informative)

gordonius (746760) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298918)

The article actually did mention the open voting consortium:
"A group of civic-minded programmers known as the Open Voting Consortium has written its own open-source code."

Ugh (1)

Avalerion (610959) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298765)

Can't we all just get along?

Open source voting would allow us to work out all the flaws. When one company believes they know everything [Diebold], they overlook and become exploitable. Ugh.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298959)

Linux isn't flawless. Why do you think OSS is any better?

The most patriotic thing you can do..... (0, Offtopic)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298773)

is be suspicious of centralized power, especially the US government.

As far as being nutty people, I'll take advocacy for open source wherever I can get it thank you.

Consider the source (0, Troll)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298798)

If the New York Times were to print an article saying the sky was blue, it would be proof positive that the sky was some other color.

Come on, the NYT isn't that stupid. (1)

k98sven (324383) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298802)

The quote in the article is that open source folks 'are often libertarian..', not are. There's a difference there.

Not that I think that is a fair description either, but given that it is a pretty accurate description of guys like ESR [catb.org], it's not hard to see how such an opinion could be formed.

So how do you prove... (4, Insightful)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298813)

...that the source made available is actually the code running on the machine?

I could write a closed-source proprietary OS and have it go:

printf("Kernel version: Linux 2.4.26\n");

...but that wouldn't actually make it Linux.

Re:So how do you prove... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9298906)

Simple. Just explicitly specify the compiler (and compile arguments), then run a hash (SHA1 or similar) on the binary.

Wow... (5, Funny)

SbooX (181758) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298827)

'libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power', who would 'scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong'.


I guess they read /. at the NYT.

NYTimes, geeks, and suspicious inspectors (5, Insightful)

cemkaner (55453) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298844)

Open-source enthusiasts, by contrast, are precisely the sort of people you'd like to see inspecting the voting code; they're often libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power, and they'd scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong.
As one of the geeks who is nuttily and loudly suspicious of the electronic voting machines, I appreciate columnist Clive Thompson's compliment and endorsement. But I think he's missing his own point.

If 10 voting equipment vendors publish their open source (remember, "open source" is not necessarily "free") software for inspection, then for each vendor, the other 9 vendors will have a strong incentive to inspect and criticize that 10th vendor's code. ("You really should want to buy *my* voting machines . . . their code sucks. Here, let me prove it. . . .")

I predict that competing commissioned salespeople can be even more nutty, suspicious, and enthusiastic than computer science professors.

A well-oiled WHAT? (5, Funny)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298869)

From the article:

Already, Australians have used the open-source strategy to build voting software for a state election, and it ran like a well-oiled Chevy.

The last Chevy I owned was a '74 Vega, and it burned a quart of oil every 100 miles. I guess that's what he's referring to here.

Some reasons why this is a good idea (5, Interesting)

cluge (114877) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298870)

One of the biggest problems with voting machines is cost per use. Voting machines are relatively" expensive and are used at most twice a year, and often only once every 2-4 years. If they aren't being used, they are simple taking up room in storage (which costs money).

Cost Advantages:
NOW as distros like knoppix [knoppix.org] have proven, putting a full featured desktop on a CD is possible. That being said - putting your "voting machine" on a CD, and using standard PC hardware makes a lot of sense. You don't have to buy a bunch of larg proprietary machines that only get used ones in a while. The CD's can be verified. If one is careful it would even be easy to use hardware already in place - or obsoleted hardware. Such a system would also use a simple standard printer to print an encrypted voter verification (audit) record in case a recount is requested. This should eliminate the long standing problem with most other electronic voting systems (no real audit trail).

Development is spread out over a large not for profit group of programmers with the end result being free. The only real cost is the certification procedure each state decides to institute - and thus it is the state that becomes accountable. If a states procedures are not robust enough to catch dangerous bugs then it's their own fault. I would think that several states go in together and split the certification costs. Since the buy in price is almost nothing (essentially media) the states have more money to play with and spend on voter training AND certification.

Considering Diebold and others - this seems like a natural, easy and simple solution.

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country - Come up with a simple, secure, reliable voting system on a CD that will boot from standard PC hardware.

SIDE NOTE: If my county uses electronic voting machines that do not have a paper trail - then I will vote by absentee ballot. I would STRONGLY urge any US voter to do the same.

cluge
AngryPeopleRule [angrypeoplerule.com]

The NYT is a good endorsement? (1, Funny)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298879)

So if things go terribly wrong with open source voting code, can we expect another grovelling editorial in the Times, complaining about being mislead by the right wing neo-con hawks of the open source movement?

Maybe we should get Jayson Blair to look into the whole open source thing. I can just imagine the headlines now: "Exclusive interview with the inventors of Linux, Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy." Oh, wait...

Companies can still make money with open-source (3, Interesting)

foidulus (743482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298885)

voting machines. Someone has to provide tech support in case something goes wrong, or barring being able to fix it, idemnity. And who better to do that than the people who made the code?
Just because something is OS doesn't mean that everyone is going to steal your trade secrets. If I were on a local voting comittee, I would almost certainly give the contract to the developer, because their people have the most experience with the machines.
Food for thought for Diebold, but who am I kidding. It will take a long time before people come to see open source as something more than just a bunch of punk kids who don't know how to make money.

Open source is only the start (3, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298890)

Publically verifiable code. Sure. The geeks who can read and understand it will, far more than current distros and projects. If only for the novelty.

But then what is needed is a strict, multiparty custody chain, to ensure that the specific, compiled, verified code, as well as the machines it is run on, are what was actually verified.
it does no good to verify codebase X, if what finds its way to the machines is codebase Y

Hmm, thanks NYT! (4, Funny)

coupland (160334) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298907)

libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power', who would 'scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong'

Hmmm...

libertarian...
suspicious of centralized power...
scream to high heaven if there is a loophole in the democratic system...

Wow, three compliments in a row, Thanks NYT!!!

Misses the point (5, Insightful)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298914)

While this article was nicely supportive of open-source software, the author misses the real problem of computerized voting: lack of auditability.

There is a growing consensus that, in order to be trustable, election machines have to produce a paper ballot that can be hand-counted in case a recount is required. See, for example this article [notablesoftware.com] for a authoritative discussion of the issues by a recognized expert in the field.

A little late (4, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298930)

Its unfortunate the U.S. is just waking up to the massive threat evoting poses to democracy. As slowly as most local governments move I wager most of them are going to go in to the next election with machines that are easily rigged. I would now lob out the conspiracy theory that the Republican's are going to use them to steal the next election but I'm starting to have my doubts. If the Republican's hold the White House and both houses of Congress, and even better achieve their holy grail of a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, which is where I think rigged voting machines is most likely to come in to play, the next election will be meaningless because the Republican's will have a defacto dictatorship in place by then, especially if they are blessed with another 9/11 they can use as an excuse to trash whats left of the constitution.

The doubts I have about this scenarios is that I'm of the opinion the election was really stolen when the media, the DNC and DLC moved Kerry from also ran to front runner and all the Democratic primary voters followed along like so many lemmings.

With Kerry as the Democratic nominee we are faced with a situation where Bush may win no matter how awful a job he does, or how dangerous he is, because no one can stand Kerry, especially after the Republican's shred him with $200 million in attack ads. He is unfortunately a two faced hypocrite and totally unlikable. I'm pretty sure Karl Rove danced a jig in the White House when Kerry moved to front runner status. I find myself hoping that the Democrats will come to their senses at the convention in Boston and realize what a loser he is and throw the nomination to Edwards. He may be inexperienced but at least he is likable in a Clintonesque sort of way.

If Kerry does win I doubt the establishment will mind, he is after a spoiled rich kid and member of Skull and Bones so he will look out for the establishment interests first, and the people's interest not at all(except to get reelected). He really doesn't seem to differ all that much from Bush. He's pretty much a fan of the war in Iraq, the only time he wasn't was when that was necessary to get the Democratic nomination. He seems to be a fan of the Patriot act and intrusive big brother government, again the only time he wasn't was when that was necessary to get the Democratic nomination. As soon as he had the nomination sowed up he rushed to the center and his first proposal was for a tax cut for corporations. He is a man in the pocket of the establishment if there ever was one.

I hate to say it but democracy is in a state of complete collapse in the U.S. There is a very small group of powerful people who decide who will be on the ballot, the media en masse anoints them and by the time it gets to the voters they are little more than a rubber stamp.

Rigged, closed source evoting is just another level of control to make sure the American people don't make a mistake and elect somebody that might upset the apple cart.

You can look at Iraq at the moment and see this same process in action. Iraq was supposed to get sovereignty and a U.N. representative was supposed to choose an interim government. Instead the U.S. appointed Iraqi governing council suddenly picked the government with massive back stage manipulation from the U.S. and surprise, surprise they are picking a man who has been on the CIA payroll for years as prime minister. He is a carbon copy of Chalibi who was the U.S. man until he fell in to disfavor. The U.S. is even interfering in the choice of the figurehead president to make sure he is pro U.S. versus the previous frontrunner who wasn't entirely a fan of U.S. occupation.

Our government is great with the empty rhetoric about freedom and democracy but if we ever found a way to actually get it they would freak and the current plutocracy would put a stop to it in a heartbeat. I find myself truly wishing Nader had a shot at the Presidency. He would be a train wreck but it would upset a very entrenched and corrupted kleptocracy. I'd just like to see it and we could start a pool on how long he would last before he was assassinated.

No Paper Trail, No Confidance. (5, Interesting)

Suburbanpride (755823) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298943)

I voted on one of the new Deibold machines here in San Diego, and it didn't instill much confidence in me, thanks to everything I had read about Diebold. but even if the machine was open source, it still wouldn't make me confidant unless there was a paper trail. It was spooky just go up to a console, insert a card and hit a few buttons. It didn't feel like voting.

As bad as the old punch card system were, I liked the feeling of knocking out a chad, and then being able to see an actual physical representation of my vote.

With the amount that counties are already spending on these machines, it can't cost much more to add a printer.

Would be nice, but unlikely considering government (4, Insightful)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 9 years ago | (#9298973)

At first I was going to say "Of course the government should adopt open source voting machines," but then I looked at the current situation:

* The government doesn't display the diagrams to locks it has in its buildings.
* Most of our miltary documents and weapondry are completely classified (can you tell me what exactly Area 51 does)?
* Some of our most cherished documents (like the Constitution) are protected by systems meant to place them underground in the event of a nuclear war (Google it). But how exactly does it work? Who has access to the documents afterwards? The secret shadow government that's up and running in case of an emergency (Google it).

Fact is, very little of government is open source anythin. And yet the US has gotten along for over 200 years. While that doesn't necessarily mean things have been done "correctly", it does mean they've been sufficient enough to keep the country going. The chances we're going to change course now is unlikely.

"Nuttily suspicious of centralized power"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9299007)

Are they crazy? Were they asleep throughout the 20th century?

The Quote is partly inaccurate and out of context (1)

voss (52565) | more than 9 years ago | (#9299011)

"Open-source enthusiasts, by contrast, are precisely the sort of people you'd like to see inspecting the voting code; they're often libertarian freaks, nuttily suspicious of centralized power, and they'd scream to the high heavens if they found anything wrong."

The actual complete quote is saying that open source paranoia and nuttiness is a GOOD thing
and notice the word "often" which is not in the slashdot posters quote. It changes the tone and the facts of the article.

200 year tradition of open source method (3, Interesting)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 9 years ago | (#9299020)

In Australia voters get a piece of paper and a pen.

Uh.............. that's it.

The counting takes a lot less time than it took the New York Times to organize the Florida recount, and the method supports unlimited error checking.

Let the candidates count their own damn votes... (0, Flamebait)

kippa (453370) | more than 9 years ago | (#9299038)

WTF is the problem? Let Bush count his votes and Kerry count his...whoever gets the higher number of votes wins! Yay! Even with dead people and Martians voting for Bush, there's no way he can count past his toes and fingers.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...