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Sequoia: Open Software Can't Count Votes & Elections Still Won't Work

By       Message Lani Massey Brown       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H1 11/1/09

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This week Sequoia Voting Systems announced its "latest revolutionary new offering," the first transparent end-to-end election system with publicly disclosed source code. Sequoia's new Frontier Election System with Optical Mark Recognition (optical scanner / tabulator) is expected to be ready for the Federal Voting System Certification Program next year.

A major breakthrough considering a history of nondisclosure by other election providers including Sequoia themselves, as well as ES&S.

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But what's that mean, publicly disclosed source code? Simply this, Sequoia's computer programs for their new Frontier system are open for the public and election integrity advocates to analyze and dissect. Maybe we'll find some bugs. Maybe not. But the next time an election produces cockamamie results, at least with this Sequoia system we won't have to wait for the courts to order Sequoia to hand over their code. Or will we? Will the code we're given access to be the same code running our elections?

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More importantly, will publicly disclosed source code of any or even all election systems guarantee our votes are counted? No. While this level of transparency is an important breakthrough, it will not ensure fair and accurate elections.

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1. First and foremost, there will never be a perfect national election. Considering the sheer numbers of computers and humans and ballot configurations and peripherals. . . It's simply not going to happen. Not ever. Somewhere in some jurisdiction(s) something's going to hiccup. Perhaps it will be 37 votes. Perhaps 537. Either way if it's enough to change the outcome of an election and spot-on-accurate results cannot be determined by any other means, the election should be sent straight back to the voters who voted it. Politically charged courts should not be deciding how you and I voted.

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Author of A MARGIN OF ERROR: BALLOTS OF STRAW, featured in "Small Press Bookwatch" - Politics is a tough career, with more knives in (more...)

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