Open Source Voting

Arthur Keller, University of California, Santa Cruz
David Mertz, CTO, Open Voting Consortium

Track: Emerging Topics
Date: Wednesday, July 26
Time: 5:20pm - 6:05pm
Location: F150

The hanging chads of 2000 showed that America's voting systems were out of date and unreliable. Yet, the electronic voting systems widely adopted since then are even worse. In the 2004 elections, nearly 50 million votes existed only in alterable electronic form. The software that processed them would have made tampering easy. Both the election data and the software were hidden from public view. There were serious allegations of fraud, but no possibility of a public audit to resolve them.

Electoral fraud disenfranchises everyone. To preserve the right to vote, the Open Voting Consortium (OVC) is working to establish a voting system worthy of public trust. While protecting voter anonymity, this Open Voting system makes all data and software auditable, publicly inspectable, permanent, and tamper-proof. The proposed project will develop the software and data systems needed to tabulate countywide voting. This project is a vital enabling step in a larger campaign, teaming OVF and OVC with government, business, and universities, to make open voting the norm in American elections.

In April 2004, OVC publicly demonstrated an open source precinct voting system. The system included:

  1. an electronic voting machine, accessible through either a touch screen or an auditory interface, which printed paper ballots and maintained an electronic audit trail,
  2. a ballot verification system that allowed the visually impaired to hear the selections on their ballots, and
  3. a ballot reconciliation system that compared the paper ballots with the electronic audit trail, and accounted for spoiled ballots.

We are developing a secure, reliable, auditable vote tabulation system that covers five main functions: security, auditing, vote tabulation, bulk optical ballot scanning, and web-based vote tally reporting.