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Thoughts from OSCON 2009: Open government, concurrency

Aug 19, 2009, 04:32 (0 Talkback[s])

"Open source for elections

"I listened to two talks that spoke directly to using open source for public elections. Long-time readers have seen my prior articles discussing open source for elections and my work with the Open Voting Consortium (OVC). In fact, I've presented technical results of OVC's demo/prototype systems at previous OSCONs.

"One of the talks this year was by Neal McBurnett, who developed a system using Django for Election Verification for the city of Boulder, Colorado. Aside from the technical issues that he discussed, the wonderful and remarkable thing is that he managed to move the county to use these systems in 2008, thereby improving the reliability and transparency of those elections.

"McBurnett's talk did not delve too deep into his specific code, but more interestingly looked at design principles for election auditing and more generally for elections systems. One of the most important principles he mentioned was Rivest and Wack's notion of "software independence" for elections. In short, this is the idea that the dependence on software is non-essential and importantly, each component is replaceable and operates on well-defined interfaces. Paper ballots and open formats are the main elements of this software independence."

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