Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Thursday, February 09, 2006

California Considers Open Source for Elections

Today -- Wednesday, February 8th -- a committee of the California State legislature, chaired by State Senator Debra Bowen, held a hearing to discuss the possibility of using open source software for elections.

Smart idea. For too long there has been inadequate attention to the architecture of election infrastructure. New technologies can be used to make voting easier, faster, more secure and transparent. But proprietary machines and software are not the best answer.

Electronic voting machines should run open source software AND produce paper records of all votes. It's as simple as that.

The case for open source here is compelling. There is no other way for government AND the public to be 100% certain that the software is secure, without flaws enabling abuse, and produces accurate (and verifiable) results. There is no second place here.

And once again, a state in the U.S. is stepping forward to seriously consider mandating open technologies for critical public services. Like voting.

California's State CIO, J. Clark Kelso, has gone beyond that, however. In September 2005, he established an Open Source Working Group composed of IT managers from 10 state departments.


According to California's 2004 Performance Review, open source is not just about cost savings. “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." Words to live by.

There it is. Cost, flexibility and security. The case for open technologies.

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