Next US Elections: Open Source vs. Commercial Software?

Next US Elections: Open Source vs. Commercial Software?

By Jack M. Germain

Sep 7, 2017 4:10 PM PT


San Francisco in January could become the first U.S. city to adopt open source software to run its voting machines.

City officials last month authorized consulting group
Slalom to prepare a report on the benefits and challenges involved in using an open source voting machine platform. The city voted to pay Slalom US$150,000 for its research.

Meanwhile, the city this year will pay
Dominion Voting Systems $2.3 million to renew its contract for the company’s proprietary voting machine software. That system is nearing the end of its life cycle.

Officials hope a move to open source will make San Francisco’s voting software more transparent and secure, as well as less costly. The expectation is that an open source voting machine program would offer more security against hack attacks. If the city should develop its own system, it then could provide the code to other cities.

Unlike proprietary software, open source code is available to anyone to vet potential security breaches. Users would not incur purchasing or subscription and licensing fees.

“Simply moving from closed to open source can help us to get to a start in increasing the security of the voting system,” said Jason Kent, CTO at San Francisco-based security consulting company
AsTech.

“However, it isn’t without some considerations that will have to be addressed,” he told LinuxInsider.

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