FairfaxIT: Linux: The electoral test that pencil and paper meet
Jul 24, 2001, 22:39 (3 Talkback[s])
Debian has been selected as the platform to form the foundation
of an electronic voting system in Australia. This article provides
some details behind the contractor's decision to go with open
source/Free Software in general, and Debian in specific:
"The only platform that provided robustness and voter
confidence was GNU Debian Linux, with all source code released
under the General Public License (GPL).
"Online voting is a highly critical system, not in the sense
that someone's life depends on it, but it has to be accurate and
reliable and available on the day," Boughton said."
Here's the press release:
The ACT Electoral Commision has chosen Software Improvements as
the contractor to develop an Electronic Voting and Vote Counting
System. The system will be available to voters at selected polling
centres for the next ACT Legislative Assembly Election.
The system will allow some voters to show preferences for
candidates via an on-screen ballot form using a simplified
keyboard. Their votes will be stored electronically until the poll
closes. The votes will then be counted electronically.
Following data entry of conventional paper ballots after polling
has closed, these votes will also be counted electronically and
combined with the electronic voting data to produce the election
results according to the ACT?s Hare-Clark electoral system.
The need for high voter confidence in the system is clear. In
responding to the tender Software Improvements and its
subcontractors were able to cite extensive experience in the field
of high integrity software. The Software Improvements solution
detailed an innovative approach to meeting the many expectations
the community has of this type of system.
Experts from the Australian National University?s Research
School of Information Sciences and Engineering and developers from
VA Linux Systems are part of the Software Improvements team
developing the new system.
At the October election, voters can expect at the selected
- a choice of voting, either electronically or in the
- a computer demonstrating the system, outside the polling
- assistance for sight impaired voters,
- guidance in several rr different languages,
- a simple system of voting, as easy to use as an automatic
teller machine, and
- a vote collection and counting system as transparent as