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A Far-Fetched Fix for E-Voting Woes: Open Source

February 01, 2008

Robert D. Brownstone, Law and Technology Director at Fenwick & West, was recently quoted in a Linux Insider article titled "A Far-Fetched Fix for E-Voting Woes: Open Source." The article addresses open source programming of voting machines used in national and local elections.

Given that the U.S. lacks a universal voting standard, individual states determine their own voting procedures and the type of voting apparatus—electronic or paper—to use. Criticism of the current crop of voting machines focuses mainly on the lack of generation of a paper record of electronic votes. Because there is no open source program for voting machines, there are ongoing disputes about oversight of the programming of the proprietary code that runs the machines.

These concerns have a pressing link to legal issues, thus rendering the e-voting process highly vulnerable to court challenges, according to Brownstone. Brownstone is one of a number of Fenwick & West attorneys who, in the last two national elections, played a major role in the Election Protection Coalition's efforts to make every vote count.

"Unlike the ATM or gas station experience, voters do not get a printout to show proof of voting. There is much worry over computer malfunction. There is no way to prove a vote without a paper receipt. Also, there is no screen to summarize the vote before a voter finishes," said Brownstone in the Linux article.

Read the entire article from Linux Insider.