After spending tens of millions of dollars in recent years on ineffective voting systems, California election officials are planning to experiment with an “open source” system that may prove to be the cure-all for secure, accessible balloting – or just another expensive failure. Most computer programs, such as the Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X operating systems, are “closed source” programs. That means the original computer code only can be examined by the program’s owners, in these cases Microsoft and Apple. “Open source” means the original computer code is made public so it can be used and examined by anyone, in particular to find security holes. According to Damicon, “True-open-source development requires that a community of software engineers band together to work on the software. The idea is that more minds create better software.”
California still suffers from problems that open-source advocates say could be alleviated. A state audit last August criticized Secretary of State Debra Bowen for wasting more than $22 million in federal funds from the Help America Vote Act by implementing new voting systems that counties and voters could not fully use. Six counties similarly wasted more than $29 million in California Voting Modernization Act funding.
Despite California’s counties having received $252 million since 2003 to replace their voting systems, nearly a fifth indicated they are currently using aging voting systems, according to the audit.
The audit was performed at the request of state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, who is running to replace the termed-out Bowen as secretary of state. Last year Padilla authored Senate Bill 360, which passed along party lines and empowers the secretary of state to revamp the state’s voting systems without needing federal approval.
Full Article: California Experiments with Open-Source Voting | PublicCEO.